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In today's Morning Brief:

EC platform for renewable energy statistics transfer

The European Commission seeks feedback on the draft rules governing a new platform to encourage the transfer of renewable energy statistics between Member States – called the new Union Renewable Development Platform (URDP). The platform should provide information, indicate potential opportunities and provide the relevant contact points – thereby making it easier for Member States to use this cooperation option more effectively and efficiently. The feedback period runs until May 27th, and can be given here.


EC study on gene editing in agriculture

Published on April 29th, the EC study on new genomic techniques acknowledges the potential of gene editing for agriculture and notes most research into commercial applications is taking place outside the EU. The study was based on expert opinions from the Joint Research Centre and the Scientific Advise Mechanism, and collected contributions from member states and stakeholders. The study seems to be paving the way to an update of the GMO directive, which at the moment bans precision breeding of plants through gene editing. Sustainable agriculture is a big part of the EU plan to make the continent carbon neutral by 2050. The Commission’s Farm to Fork strategy aims to reduce the use of fertilisers by 30% and turn 25% of agricultural land over to organic farming, and new genomic techniques could promote the sustainability of agricultural production, according to Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for health and food safety. Read more about the reactions to the study here.


EU’s draft renewables law confirms 38-40% target for 2030

An early draft of the EU’s upcoming renewable energy directive confirms the EU’s objective of sourcing 38-40% of its energy from renewables by 2030, roughly doubling the share of solar, wind and other renewables in Europe’s energy mix by the end of the decade. The European Commission’s revised renewable energy directive will be presented on 14 July as part of a broader package of laws intended to meet the bloc’s updated climate goals for 2030.

The initiatives being considered in the draft include:

  • A ban on fossil fuels in district heating and cooling
  • An increase in the renewables target for transport, from 14% to 26%.
  • An increase in the sub-target for advanced biofuels, from 3.5% to 5.5%, and the introduction of a dedicated supply obligation for aviation
  • Increased cross-border cooperation on offshore renewables.
  • A certification system for renewable and low-carbon fuels.
  • A targeted strengthening of bioenergy sustainability criteria.

More information on the proposal and the mixed reactions it received can be found here.


EC draft measures for a rapid green transition of industries

In line with its environmental sustainability plans, the EU also plans to help industries cut down greenhouse gas emissions by promoting a rapid expansion of investment in low-carbon technologies. According to a Commission draft policy plan commented by Euractiv, the green transition in industrial sectors will be achieved through take-up of technologies like renewable hydrogen fuel and energy storage. Moreover, the draft also considers to support and speed up the rollout of Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI), which “could accelerate needed investments in the fields of hydrogen, 5G corridors, common data infrastructure and services, sustainable transport, blockchain or European Digital Innovation Hubs”. The Commission will also announce details this summer of a plan to impose carbon border costs on imports of polluting goods, a measure that aims to level the playing field for EU industry and overseas firms by exposing them both to the same carbon price.


Parliament votes €7.5B Digital Europe programme

The European Parliament has formally adopted the EU’s new seven-year €7.5 billion investment plan in artificial intelligence, supercomputing and data platforms. Digital Europe will be crucial in granting the EU with the technological sovereignty and become world competitive in the supply of high-performance computing services. The programme will invest €2.7 billion in supercomputing projects to build Europe’s data processing capabilities, with the deployment of a supercomputer and data infrastructure with exascale capabilities by 2023, and post-exascale facilities by 2027. Another €2.5 billion will be invested in R&D projects to promote applications of artificial intelligence in the public and private sector. Finally, another €2 billion are meant to go to the cybersecurity industry, to finance state of the art equipment and infrastructure.


EU Datathon 2021

As part of the Open Data Days 2021, the call is open for participants to the Datathon, the open data competition. The call is open for proposals for the development of an application that links and uses open datasets. The app should showcase opportunities for concrete business models or social enterprises, and fit to find suitable new approaches and solutions to help Europe achieve important EC goals through the use of open data. More information on how to participate can be found here.


ETH Zurich founds Quantum Computing Hub

ETH Zurich and the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) have established a joint centre for the development of quantum computers, with the aim to advance the realization of quantum computers based on both ion traps and superconducting components. The Hub has the goal to develop quantum computers with more than 100 qubits, and more than 30 scientists will work in the new hub to this end.

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