The EU Commission is seeking to deliver energy and environmental policies to keep up with the global race for clean energy technology leadership and the objectives associated with the Green Deal, Circular Economy and supporting growth and innovation across the EU.
As the International Energy Agency reposts, currently China dominates the manufacturing and trade of most clean energy technologies worldwide and only three countries (none of them European) account for 70% of the manufacturing capacity for these technologies.
Meanwhile industrial policies from friendly trading rivals such as the United States via its Inflation Reduction Act is posing challenges for Europe and officials have sought to create the best possible conditions to innovate and grow, through the new Industrial Act, promoting investment and research.
As of today, only 15 per cent of the energy that Europe consumes comes from green energy. By 2030, the target set is that 43% of all electricity should come from renewable energy. This means that every year the EU would see a huge increase in demand for renewably-sourced energy. Key raw materials for the wind and renewables sectors include steel, nickel, copper, chromium, manganese, copper, magnets – and lead. Lead is an essential component of undersea cables linking windfarms to the grid, and in solar technologies that convert sunlight into electrical energy – including next-generation perovskite-based solar cells developed here in the EU. Industrial lead batteries then play a key role alongside other technologies in storing the green energy produced.
However, if plans by the European Chemicals Agency to recommend including lead metal in the EU’s REACH chemical authorization list are given the green light, it would create significant business uncertainty, and have the opposite effect in terms of new investment in green technologies. Many key sectors are impacted because lead is essential in many economically and socially significant products and services either directly or indirectly.
The risk of regulatory action derailing important policy considerations is significant and industries relying on lead for a wide range of significant products and applications are urging legislators to think again.
Amid this complexity, the European Union is required to deliver on developing a secure and sustainable supply chain for clean energy in the following years while supporting investment, job creation and environmental objectives. Therefore, it’s essential that contradictory regulatory approaches are avoided to prevent obstacles to the long-term investments that are needed to achieve competitiveness and environmental goals.