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Will European investors help power up global ‘cleantech’ sector?

‘This transformation will only happen if it makes economic sense and is just.’


Pete Carvill

Digital banking firm BBVA has identified cleantech investment as an “opportunity for Europe”.

Antoni Ballabriga, the firm’s global head of sustainability intelligence and advocacy, argued here that innovation in tech, driven by investment, was key to achieving net zero by 2050, adding: “This transformation will only happen if it makes economic sense and is just. And technological innovation plays a key role in making this possible. On one level, we have those technologies with no green cost premium and which are already primed for mass implementation, such as renewable energies, energy efficiency and electric mobility.”

He added: “We then have a second level featuring those technologies that are still incipient and need to be scaled up to become economically viable. Here we have those sectors that are difficult to decarbonise (‘hard to abate’) and where we still have sizable green cost premiums: how to produce green steel or cement, how to produce sustainable aviation fuels, how to solve heavy transport or shipping, how to capture carbon, and many more besides.”

Ballabriga highlighted the latest Net Zero Industry Tracker report from the World Economic Forum, which calculated the ‘cleantech’ investment needed will reach $13.5tn from 2050. That report made clear that most of this investment would be used for clean power (45%), followed by clean hydrogen (37%).

The authors of the Net Zero Industry Tracker wrote: “Accelerating clean power generation and energy storage is crucial. The shift towards clean power sources requires significant changes in electricity procurement and markets, placing a growing emphasis on renewable energy procurement strategies, such as access to and co-ordination of a diverse set of industry players to include solar, nuclear and hydropower.”

Investment gap

For its part, the European Commission has estimated that €92bn in investment will be needed in cleantech between 2023 and 2030. Counting both public investment and current private investment reveals an estimated investment gap of €50bn, according to Cleantech for Europe.

Elsewhere, this week, an article in Smart Energy International has extolled the virtues of energy investment in different European countries while examining the different instruments and models that are available for investors attempting to move into the space.

“To gather an overview of existing financing and support schemes at the member state level, [Investors Dialogue on Energy] conducted a mapping exercise, identifying 272 schemes available for energy storage across the 27 Member States, accumulating into €113bn ($122.3bn),” wrote Yusuf Latief. “Of these 272, loans and grants were found to be the most popular across the Union.”

He added, however: “Only three of the 272 identified schemes are specifically designed for energy storage. Most schemes target at least one more energy segment and 176 schemes target all segments of the energy value chain. While the number of schemes identified is certainly encouraging, it would be valuable to dedicate more to storage specifically.”