Climate Change

28 Nov 2022

EU Continues to Be at the Forefront of Clean Energy Research

28 Nov 2022  by   
The rapid development and deployment of home-grown clean energy technologies in the EU is key to the response to the current energy crisis, the European Commission reports.

In the latest progress report on the competitiveness of clean energy technologies in the region, the Commission states that R&I investment is steadily growing and that at the global level, the EU remains a leader in ‘green’ inventions and high-value patents with applications in the fields of climate and environment (23%), energy (22%) and transport (28%).

However, there needs to be continuing efforts to reduce the dependency on, and effectively diversify, the sourcing of raw materials, with their surging prices severely affecting the competitiveness of clean energy technologies.

The EU also needs to deepen international cooperation and to overcome the shortage of skilled labour in various clean energy technology segments, while also ensuring a gender-balanced and equal environment.

The proposal to make 2023 the European Year of Skills is expected to represent a step towards the increase of skilled workers.

Specific clean energy technologies

On specific clean energy technologies, the report finds that the EU’s wind sector remains a world leader in R&I and high value patents in 2022 and maintains a positive trade balance. Competition remains fierce, however, and the wind industry will need to overcome the current unfavourable context also due to the increasing global demand for rare earth materials and supply chain disruptions.

The EU has also confirmed its position in 2022 as one of the largest markets for PV as well as a strong innovator, especially in emerging PV technologies. From the value chain perspective, the EU is still lagging behind Asia, with a strong dependence on several crucial components.

On the other hand, there are challenges to overcome with several technologies. For example, the heat pumps sector will have to accelerate its already fast-growing deployment and ensure systems affordability and suppliers will have to ramp up production in order to maintain their market share by comparison with third countries.

With regards to battery production, the EU is on track to almost achieving self-sufficiency by 2030, but a lack of domestically sourced raw materials and advanced materials production capacity continue to pose challenges. Further attention is needed to increase recycling capacity and establish technological capability in cheaper storage/longer-term storage.

On hydrogen production through electrolysis, the EU benefits from its strong comprehensive approach to pull demand and supply. Surges in electricity prices and reliance on critical raw materials are some of the main challenges.

The EU also reports being the clear market leader in operational commercial plants of renewable fuels and high-value innovations. Although with limited installed and planned production for 2030, renewable fuels can contribute to all Fit for 55 emission saving targets, if certain technical and economic risks are addressed.


Innovation in the EU’s digital energy infrastructure will be key to ensuring that the electricity grid is fit for the future energy system, the report states. Demand for home energy management systems and smart EV charging is taking off and expected to grow and the rollout of an intelligent metering system is progressing, albeit at a slower pace than envisaged.

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In conclusion, the report, which was released as part of the latest state of the Energy Union update, notes that overall, despite the promising positive trends observed in the EU innovation ecosystem, further efforts are needed to address structural barriers and societal challenges holding back the local climate-tech start-ups and scale-ups more than in other major economies.

“To exploit its potential to become a global leader in the climate-tech and deep-tech domains, the EU needs to leverage its diverse talents, intellectual assets and industrial capabilities, and to get private investors to participate more actively in the funding of climate-tech and deep-climate-tech start-ups.”


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