EU lawmakers adopt position on Net-Zero Industry Act

Article by Kerry Hebden

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT has adopted its position on the proposed Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA), which is intended to boost Europe's manufacturing output for decarbonisation technologies.  

Announced in early 2023, NZIA is the EU’s bid to quickly scale up the clean energy transition, in the face of competing policies such as the US’ Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). It is part of the European Commission’s Green Deal Industrial Plan (GDIP), and it sets a target for Europe to produce 40% of its annual deployment needs for net-zero technologies by 2030, and to capture about a quarter of the global market value for these technologies. 

The initial selection of technologies included wind and offshore renewable energy; batteries and storage; heat pumps and geothermal energy; electrolysers and fuel cells; biogas and biomethane; carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCS); and grid technologies.  

But in their amendments, MEPs proposed a wider, more comprehensive list of technologies to be covered, including nuclear fission and fusion technologies, sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs), and specific industrial technologies. 

MEPs have also sought to broaden the scope of the draft legislation to encompass the supply chain, including components, materials, and machinery for producing net-zero technologies.  

However, the vote to extend the technology list has caused a stir with some organisations, including the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), who accused Parliament of watering down the impact of proven technologies with the inclusion of “imaginary silver bullets”. Camille Maury, senior policy officer on the decarbonisation of industry at the WWF European Policy Office, said: “In what can only be described as magical thinking, the Parliament has opened up the list to imaginary silver bullets that may never materialise, meaning taxpayers’ money will be diverted from the key green technologies needed to decarbonise the European industry on time.” 

The WWF also criticised MEPs for not limiting the use of CCS to specific sectors where there are no alternative abatement options. “CCS must not be used as an excuse for continued fossil fuel use and it is clearly not a silver bullet to address industrial emissions, in particular before 2030,” the organisation said. 

As part of the legislation, the EU is targeting a CO2 injection capacity of 50m t/y at EU sites by 2030. 

The act, which was adopted with 376 votes to 139, with 116 abstentions, would earmark funding from national Emission Trading System (ETS) revenues, and for the most strategic projects through the Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform (STEP) – another newly adopted proposal surrounding the funding of critical technologies in Europe. 

Lead MEP Christian Ehler said: “MEPs are showing they are serious about making Europe fit for industrial manufacturing. Without these steps to reduce the administrative burden, speed up processes, and increased public investment in our industry and innovation, Europe would face decarbonisation by deindustrialisation. This proposal shows we can prevent this.”  

Now that the European Parliament has adopted its stance on the NZIA, it will be subject to negotiations with the Council of Ministers and the European Commission to finalise the law. Known as trilogues, the talks are scheduled for December. 

Article by Kerry Hebden

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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