Diego Pavía, the CEO of InnoEnergy, (which is a European investor in innovative start-ups), is firmly convinced that we will no longer emit CO2 in 2050 and will all be using green energy. Innovation Origins asked him why and how he views the Green Deal that European Commissioner Frans Timmermans is due to deliver at the end of this year. This outlines how Europe will become CO2-free by 2050. “The most important thing is that Timmermans should have his own vision for the energy transition. He should not be influenced by lobbyists,” Pavía states.

How do you feel about the European member states’ roadmap to 2030. That’s when they should have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by half. And what about 2050, when they will no longer be allowed to emit any greenhouse gases at all?

“This energy transition will become reality. Why? Nowadays, you can choose between generating energy from windmills or from burning fossil fuels. Generating energy from a wind farm is cheaper. This means that technologies that can meet the targets for the energy transition already exist. And they are ‘in the money, as we like to call it. They are competitive. If this wasn’t the case, the consumer would go for what would yield them the most profit. What is most competitive in this day and age is already based on green technology.

Is that due to subsidies?

“No. That was the case during the early stages of sustainable energy generation. But now the business is able to stand on its own two feet. The innovations and inventors of new technologies have demonstrated that they have what it takes to do this. These innovations are feasible from a business perspective. But there are always two sides to a transition. That of the business to business, and that of the business to consumer, or citizen. The business-to-business side is at the forefront. Companies involved will meet the targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions sooner than agreed. Just because it makes good business sense to use the most competitive technology. As far as the business-to-consumer side of things are concerned, the use of innovative technology and the mindset of consumers will have to change. A lot needs to be done before consumers make the switch and buy a new type of car, or a heat pump for household heating, for example. This transition will be much more difficult.”

Is it because people’s ingrained behaviour has to change?

“Yes, the way they deal with the products they use is in their heads. That’s why we organized a conference [last week, ed.] on humanizing the energy transition. We have to take this transition to the citizens so that they don’t become spectators or sufferers, but instead become actors. This is a problem that you simply can’t solve overnight. We all come from diverse cultures in Europe. There are Germans, Spaniards, French, etc. We all behave in different ways and we all react differently to the stimuli that comes from the energy transition. We have to work together as participants in the system in order for that to happen.”

What do you expect from the Green Deal’s European Commissioner Frans Timmermans? If you could contribute something, what would that be?

“I definitely don’t have the answer to that question. But I would say: hey, Mr. Timmermans, you need a vision! Then he needs to provide the tools for implementing his vision. Since Timmermans has the money he received from the European Commission’s President Ursula von der Leyen for the transition, he has been pulled in all directions by practically every lobbyist conceivable. The danger that this presents, is that if Timmermans does not have his own vision and the accompanying tools, he will allow himself to be influenced by these lobbyists and he will make a hotchpotch of all these influences. That’s a mistake.”

The Member States must approve the Green Deal

“No. The Member States must submit their own national climate plans. Already there are concepts of how they will contribute to the climate targets for 2030. But they still need to be streamlined, of course.”

Is it conceivable that there are obstacles that stand in the way of getting this Green Deal approved?

“The Green Deal is the political strategy for accelerating the process of energy transition within the EU. Yet the way in which we are supposed to achieve these targets has already been determined. The groundwork for the legal regulatory system that is needed for this is already in place, so I don’t see any obstacles there.”

You also don’t see any difficulties that might prevent this process from being sped up?

“No. The [requisite sustainable, ed.] technology is there and is valuable. If we stop using fossil fuels for industrial production processes right now, the companies involved would lose money. So we have to help them. Not only the industry and the companies, but also citizens who have to go through the transition.”

So there has to be enough money to help existing companies.

“Yes. There must be clear incentives, though not necessarily in terms of subsidies. But it does need to be like this:  If I have a factory which is currently using coal, I should be able to easily invest in a much cleaner wind farm. Right now, as in today. And then be able to write off that coal factory.

But as an entrepreneur you have to be able to afford that

“Yes, but there is plenty of money available. That’s not the problem.”

There is no obstacle in your view

“Yes, there is. The obstacle is us: we citizens. For example, think about locations where wind farms will be built. We have to accept these changes.”