Skilled workforce for net-zero development: European educational priorities

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EU strategic net-zero technologies manufacturing capacity is expected to reach about 40 percent of the member states’ deployment needs by 2030. European Net-Zero Industry Act foresees the creation of several “net-zero academies” focusing on specific technologies in order to ensure that the net-zero sectors in the states are having sufficient skilled workforce.  

Background
Under the revised Renewable Energy Directive, the EU has a target of about 43-45 percent of renewable energy in the total energy mix by 2030. As part of the REPowerEU plan, in May 2022 the Commission adopted an EU solar energy strategy which aims to achieve over 320 GW of solar photovoltaic capacity by 2025 and almost 600 GW by 2030.
In order to boost the manufacturing of net-zero technologies in Europe and support the clean energy transition, the EU has introduced the Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA). The objective is to create better conditions to set up net-zero projects in Europe and attract investments, with the aim that the Union’s overall strategic net-zero technologies manufacturing capacity approaches or reaches at least 40% of the Union’s deployment needs by 2030. Among other measures to ensure fast permitting procedures and support innovation, the Act foresees the creation of Net-Zero Academies each focusing on a specific technology, to ensure net-zero sectors are underpinned by a skilled workforce.
The academies explore the analyses and experience of the Large-Scale Skills Partnership for onshore renewable energy, which also includes the solar sector. The partnership aims to support the exchange of best practices and data on skills gaps and skills needs in this sector, ensure that people entering the renewable energy workforce are equipped with appropriate skills, provide guidance to public authorities, promote innovation in the sector and make it more attractive to workers. This partnership is part of the EU Pact for Skills, which is a flagship action under the EU Skills Agenda; through this pact, already 3.5 million people have received necessary training during 2022-23.
Finally, the Net-Zero Europe Platform will serve as a central coordination hub, where the Commission and EU countries can discuss and exchange information as well as gather input from stakeholders.
Source: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_24_3407
More on European “green transition” in:
https://www.integrin.dk/2024/04/13/european-clean-energy-transition-dialogues-with-the-stockholders/

European net-zero legislation
The EU-wide Net-Zero Industry Act, NZIA has been finally adopted at the end of May 2024; it puts the member states’ economies on development strategies aimed to strengthen national manufacturing capacities in key clean technologies. By creating a unified and predictable business environment for the clean tech manufacturing sector, NZIA is expected to increase the competitiveness and resilience of the EU’s industrial base, support quality jobs creation and necessary skilled workforce.
The NZIA was drafted by the Commission in February 2023 as part of the Green Deal Industrial Plan, which set out the ways the EU would able to increase its competitive edge by scaling up the member states’ manufacturing capacity for net-zero technologies and products required to meet the EU’s ambitious climate targets.
By adopting the NZIA, the Commission President underlined that the NZIA represented vital regulatory means to “scale up clean technologies manufacturing quickly: as the act created the best conditions for those sectors that are crucial to reach EU-wide net-zero by 2050. She added that as soon as the demand for such technologies is growing both in Europe and around the world, all countries are striving to meet such demands with adequate supply facilities.
Thus, boosting the member states’ production of net-zero technologies, NZIA reduces the risks the states might face in replacing fossil fuel dependencies by technology dependencies on external actors. This will in turn help to make the EU’s energy system cleaner and more secure, with affordable and home-produced clean energy sources replacing volatile fossil fuel imports.
NZIA also includes measures for investment in education, training and innovation with the establishment of “Net-Zero Industry Academies” to train 100,000 workers within three years and support the mutual recognition of professional qualifications.

Source and citation from: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_24_2309
See also our article in: https://www.integrin.dk/2024/05/31/clean-technologies-in-european-manufacturing-vital-legal-measures/

Energy and renewables
Under the revised Renewable Energy Directive, the EU has a target of about 44-45 percent for its renewable energy share by 2030; as a part of the REPowerEU plan, the Commission adopted in May 2022 the EU solar energy strategy which was aimed at achieving over 320 GW of solar photovoltaic capacity by 2025 and almost 600 GW by 2030. To boost the manufacturing of net-zero technologies in Europe in support of the clean energy transition, the EU has introduced the Net-Zero Industry Act.
The ultimate objective is to create better conditions to set up net-zero projects in Europe and attract investments, with the aim that the Union’s overall strategic net-zero technologies manufacturing capacity approaches or reaches at least 40 percent of the Union’s deployment needs by 2030.
Among other measures to ensure fast permitting procedures and support innovation, the Act foresees the creation of several Net-Zero Academies aimed at focusing on a number of specific technologies, stimulating the growth of net-zero economic sectors in the member states and preparing the necessary skilled workforce.

Fostering education facilities
The role of NZIA academies is to develop learning content and programs together with the industry, to ensure that sufficient skills and workforce in the value chain.
It is estimated that in the solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing sector alone, some 66,000 skilled workers will be needed by 2030 for the EU member states in meeting the EU-wide ambitious renewable energy targets while ensuring industrial competitiveness. For example, the Solar Academy aims to train 100,000 workers in the solar PV-value chain over the next three years to address the current labour and skills gap in the sector.
Following the successful model of the European Battery Academy, launched in 2022 for the battery value-chain, the Solar Academy will design learning content, together with the industry and relevant parties in the solar PV-value chain. The Solar Academy will also develop learning credentials, which will certify the skills that people have acquired in its training courses, thus also boosting the mobility of the workforce across the European Single Market coped with the deployment of workable programs with the local partners. Among such partners could be Vocational and Educational Training, VET providers, business communities, universities or other education and training providers; the Academy will sign contracts with these partners to deliver necessary programs.
Additionally, the Commission is supporting the launch of the European Solar Academy with €9 million from the Single Market Program; the “project” will be implemented by the European Institute for Innovation and Technology, EIT via its Knowledge and Innovation Community, EIT Innoenergy. Thus, the EIT Innoenergy’s main goal is to “decarbonise Europe” by 2050 through the leadership of three industrial value chains: European Battery Alliance (EBA) for battery storage, European Green Hydrogen Acceleration Center (EGHAC) for green hydrogen, and the European Solar PV Industry Alliance (ESIA) for solar photovoltaics.

On EIT Innoenergy in: https://pact-for-skills.ec.europa.eu/index_en and https://www.innoenergy.com/

These are the latest Commission initiative supporting the member states’ efforts to reach the EU-wide ambitious targets under the European Green Deal and the REPowerEU Plan; it will ensure that the member states’ industries are resilient and competitive on the global stage.
On the EU Pact of Skills and Skills Agenda in: https://pact-for-skills.ec.europa.eu/index_en

Citations from Commission’s press release
= “Boosting solar PV manufacturing in Europe is vital for the European energy security, competitiveness and resilience. Today’s Solar Academy launch proves the Commission is committed to reducing emissions while creating quality jobs in the EU. The launch of the Academy even before the entry into force of the Net Zero Industry Act will help address the urgent skills gap in Europe’s solar PV sector – some 66,000 workers for manufacturing alone – and train a new generation of workers for our solar industry, in line with the EU objective to manufacture by 2030 at least 40% of the states net-zero technology needs”.
Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market
= “Solar power is at the heart of the energy transition in Europe, with the potential to create thousands of jobs across the continent, at all stages of the industrial supply chain, from design through to manufacturing, installation and maintenance. The Net Zero Academy created by the Commission will help workers in the EU states to embrace this exciting opportunity and offer further support in meeting the ambitious REPowerEU goals”.
Kadri Simson, Commissioner for Energy
Source: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_24_3407

More on NZIA in: https://commission.europa.eu/strategy-and-policy/priorities-2019-2024/european-green-deal/green-deal-industrial-plan/net-zero-industry-act_en

Our comment
Since the adoption of the EU-wide SDGs in 2016, just after the UN-2030 Agenda with the SDG-17 has been inaugurated, the members of our EII’s Board (initially in the Baltic Course (www.baltic.course.com ) and presently in the EII, have been publishing a vast number of articles on educational priorities in dealing with the modern challenges.
Among one of the recent publications is the following book: https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-031-59013-9?sap-outbound-id=8A6A299C20CC7BE6B001A960983DC0820D2DD0D4&utm_source=standard&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=000_LAN36_0000019083_Book+author+congrats+NEW&utm_content=EN_34155_20240609&mkt-key=E37C6A6A9ED71EDEB895EC6A85E840E8

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