Climate and reduction of CO2 emissions have reached the very top of the agenda in most countries. People have taken on the responsibility; there- fore, the topic has received the highest political interest and priority. If we are not careful, investments, political focus, and people’s understanding will work against our climate goals. GREEN VERSUS BLACK HEAT: ONE NIGHT CHANGED THE AGENDA

By Lars Gullev, CEO at VEKS

difficult for European consumers to invest sustainably.

In April 2021, the EU member states, and the European Parlia- ment agreed to reduce CO2 emissions by 55% by 2030 com- pared to 1990 levels. Although it was a long, complicated pro- cess to agree on a common goal - a green EU - it was probably the most straightforward part. Now it’s getting tricky, and the subsequent discussions have already begun - can green be graded? Are there more shades of green? At first glance, one would not think it possible - but on Febru- ary 2, 2022, the EU created serious, legitimate doubts about what is green and what is black. As part of the EU Action Plan for a Greener and Cleaner Econ- omy, in line with the Paris Agreement and the UN’s Global Goals, the EU has phased in a new classification system (tax- onomy) to ensure uniform identification of green and environ- mentally sustainable investments in the European market... The taxonomy classifies an economic activity as environmen- tally sustainable based on several criteria. The problem with the taxonomy is that most people now will feel great uncer- tainty and ambiguity about defining black or green fuels - and green technologies. The European Commission has now recognized both natural gas and nuclear power as greenish - and we have initiated a process in which the colors “green“ and “black“ are no longer unambiguous. Once the European Commission has classified nuclear power and natural gas as green technologies/fuels, the rationale is that it is necessary to accept imperfect solutions for a transi- tional period to achieve the goal of climate neutrality in the EU by 2050. This taxonomy opens the door for money that would have gone to renewable energy, such as wind turbines and solar cells, to go to natural gas and nuclear power, making it very

The Commission sends an entirely wrong signal to investors, and the taxonomy will promote investment in technologies that are problematic for both the climate and the environ- ment. But on February 24, 2022, the world changed - with the Rus- sian invasion of Ukraine, it became clear to everyone that en- ergy policy is synonymous with security policy. At the top of the agenda is now a reduction in dependence on natural gas here and now - and on the slightly longer path of phasing out natural gas for space heating. Others express that this is a case of greenwashing. In one night, the world changed. There has been massive criticism from several countries that the Commission has not listened, as neither nuclear power nor natural gas should be called green in line with renewable energy. It is, therefore, only natural that some members of the Euro- pean Parliament have started a group with the aim of having the Commission’s decision to classify natural gas as a “green technology” voted down. The district heating of the future will primarily be based on the utilization of surplus heat from data centers, CO2 capture, Power-to-X (PtX) factories and waste energy plants, heat from the sea- and sewage water heat pumps, geothermal plants, from electric boilers, and combined heat and power plants based on sustainable biomass. So, district heating will be the greenest you can imagine. All in all, only green, sustainable technologies that either uti- lize the energy resources in society – or technologies based on sustainable fuels (wind, solar, and sustainable biomass) – should be defined as “green“ – and be part of the “taxonomy”.

In our district heating world, there is no doubt about what is green and what is black.

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