European Union External Action

Second EU-India Conference on Advance Biofuels: Welcome address by the Ambassador

New Delhi, 12/03/2019 - 08:07, UNIQUE ID: 190312_26
Speeches of the Ambassador

Distinguished colleagues,

It is a great pleasure for me to address the 2nd EU-India Conference on advanced biofuels.

India is a very important strategic partner for the EU as one of the fastest growing major economies that will reshape the global economy in the twenty-first century.

Europe is India's largest trading power: Two-way trade in goods and services between the EU and India reached over EUR 100 billion in 2017. The EU is one of the largest investors in India, with a stock of more than EUR 70 Billion in investments.

Also in the area of Energy, India is a very important partner for the EU. In this area our objectives strongly converge, both at home and in the international arena:

  • Both the EU and India want to be less dependent on the import of energy and want to secure that its energy is clean, reliable and affordable.
  • Both the EU and India want to lead in addressing Climate Change.

Both the EU and India are convinced that stepping up action in transforming our energy system will provide significant opportunities for modernizing our economies, enhancing competitiveness, and ensuring socio-economic benefits of increased clean energy access.

During the EU-India Summit in March 2016, Prime Minister Modi agreed with the European leaders on a Clean Energy and Climate Partnership, translating the Paris agreement as well as the SDG 7 on affordable and clean energy directly into action. This partnership was reconfirmed in October 2017.

The partnership brings together all relevant stakeholders: European and Indian institutions, EU member states and Indian states, businesses and civil society.

The partnership facilitates policy dialogue, brings best practices, business solutions and joint research and innovation and looks at financing models for clean energy and climate change.

Also, the new EU strategy for India released in November last year clearly spells out both the necessity to address clean energy, energy efficiency and climate change, and the opportunities for the EU and India to collaborate on these important issues.

The EU is partnering with India on concrete initiatives on the ground, related to:

  • Offshore wind: Designing the first offshore wind project off the coast of Gujarat together with MNRE, and liaising with European funders and developers to help make this  project a reality.
  • Solar Energy: supporting the roll out of the solar parks programme, by giving concrete assistance on design of solar parks across the country and developing the supporting framework. Implementation of the roof-top solar programme. Deepening cooperation with the International Solar Alliance.  
  • Energy efficiency: implementation of energy efficiency in buildings legislation in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Bihar
  • Cooperation with India on Smart Grids, including large scale demonstrations. This week we will have the 7th EU-India Workshop on smart grids and the 2nd workshop of Power Markets design, as part of the India Smart Utilities Week.

We are right now looking at how to further shape the India-EU Clean Energy & Climate Partnership assessing how to build on the existing activities and which new areas of cooperation could be identified.

Cooperation on research and innovation is an integral part of the EU-India agenda. At the EU-India Summit in October 2017, our Leaders agreed to upscale the cooperation on research and innovation with Europe because it is fully realised that adapting European Technologies to Indian conditions and with Indian partners, can make the technology suitable and affordable.

Research and innovation also represents one of the five pillars of the Energy Union strategy, which aims to make the EU a world leader in renewable energy and spearhead the fight against global warming.

I will now focus in particular on the future role of biofuels in the required energy transition of our societies, and in particular in the transport sector. In the EU, the transport sector is responsible for 32% of final energy consumption and 24% of total greenhouse gas emissions. In addition the transport sector relies on oil for 94% of its energy needs.

Decarbonising the transport sector will require a gradual transformation of the entire transport system and hence an integrated approach to transport policy.

There is no single fuel solution for the future of mobility, all main alternative fuel options must be pursued, with a focus on the needs of each transport mode.

We need to promote the efficiency of the entire transport sector.

We will need more electrification of transport which seems most likely to be achievable for passenger cars and light duty vehicles.

Also biofuels are expected to play an important role to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Biofuels are for example the only low-CO2 option for substituting kerosene in aviation. It is however important that biofuels are truly sustainable and there is a strong debate about the use of food and feed crop based biofuels.

In the EU, the recently revised Renewable Energy Directive aims at a gradual replacement of conventional crop based biofuels with more advanced biofuels.

The new Directive requires fuel suppliers to gradually increase the share of renewable and low-emission fuels, including advanced biofuels and renewable electricity.

This obligation will provide the industry with certainty about future market demands for advanced biofuels, which is needed to ensure large-scale investment and innovation in the sector, while also to providing farmers and producers of conventional crop-based biofuels with sufficient time to adjust.

In the EU's research and innovation programme Horizon 2020, there are many calls of proposals open to participation of India addressing the issues discussed today and I am very pleased with the excellent cooperation between the European Union and the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, bringing together innovative companies from both sides to make this jointvision a reality.

Based on the feedback I received from the Business to Business meeting of last year and of yesterday (11/03) I am very optimistic that Indian and European companies will be successful in closing cooperation and investment agreements.

So let me finish by welcoming all of you at this second EU-India conference on advanced biofuels. Let me reassure you that we will take good note of all the outcomes of this conference, which will feed into the future shape of the EU-India Clean Energy and Climate Partnership.

I wish you a successful conference.

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