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Consultation Forum pursues work on defence energy transition

More than 170 experts from 30 European countries and different institutions and organisations participate in the 3rd Conference of the third phase of the Consultation Forum for Sustainable Energy in the Defence and Security Sector (CF SEDSS III) which opened today.

 The two-day online event (23-24 November), held under the auspices of the Slovenian EU Presidency and hosted by the Slovenian Ministry of Defence (MoD), will review and discuss the Energy Consultation Forum’s ongoing work (now in Phase III) to support the EU Member States' Ministries of Defence and partners in embracing sustainable energy models. The Conference will, in particular, showcase how the Forum, the largest European defence energy community, promotes innovative clean technologies, such as hydrogen, to help the defence sector in its energy transition. At the same time, the Consultation Forum also serves as the gateway for the defence community to identify and access EU funding opportunities for energy-related topics. Through the Forum, Ministries of Defence also share knowledge and national best practices in the defence energy and climate-related fields. During the Conference, participants are also updated on the latest developments regarding the EU’s objective to reach climate neutrality by 2050 and the progress made in implementing the EU's Climate Change and Defence Roadmap.

Defence needs to transition to become resilient

 The Conference was opened with speeches by Uroš Lampret, State Secretary of the Republic of Slovenia, Jiří Šedivý, EDA Chief Executive, and Jerneja Jug Jerše, Head of the European Commission Representation in Slovenia. Bart Biebuyck, Executive Director of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU), gave a keynote speech.

In his intervention, Mr Lampret highlighted that Slovenia actively supports the EU's efforts to increase the sustainability of the energy sector. Particularly, the Slovenian MoD focuses on sustainable mobility projects and investments, energy rebuilding of infrastructure capabilities, and environmental protection. He emphasised that the Ministry recognises "hydrogen as an alternate fuel and energy carrier in the defence sector that will multiply the national efforts to decrease fossil fuel dependency". He also stressed that "it is important to raise awareness in the defence sector to adapt to climate change effects without compromising the effectiveness of armed forces". In this context, he noted that the "EU defence sector would not have such important impact on energy efficiency overall without EDA activities".

In his speech, Mr Šedivý highlighted some important international events, such as COP26 in Glasgow, which show "a high political momentum for energy and climate" and underlined that climate change significantly impacts our society and also "presents a risk for defence infrastructure and capabilities and the operational effectiveness of our armed forces." Mr Šedivý also stressed that "defence needs to transition to ensure resilience and avoid becoming obsolete", and move away from reliance on fossil fuels and outdated technologies and equipment. He provided examples of how EDA helps MoDs improve their energy sustainability and concluded that EDA would continue supporting the MoDs work and act as their "green ambassador". He called on MoDs to actively participate in helping EDA identify gaps "and address them through collaboration, share the word, and multiply our common success."

Ms Jug Jerše focused on the security of energy supplies, clean energy transition, and energy efficiency as the cornerstones of the EU’s energy policy. A fair and just transition towards a more sustainable energy system has been “the central issue of the recent COP26 Glasgow conference”, which “achieved some remarkable results” considering the complexity of negotiations. Ms Jug Jerše stressed the importance of the European Green Deal and the recently proposed Fit for 55 package, featuring a number of legislative initiatives where the public sector, and the defence and security sector as part of it, will play an important role. “We are advancing in the process of transforming both the energy and the defence sectors in Europe” and “we are encouraged by the increased public perception of the nexus between the two.”

Bart Biebuyck, in his keynote speech, said: “As a number of hydrogen and fuel cells technologies are entering the industrialisation stage, Europe is now ready to accelerate the deployment of solutions across different applications. Over the last years, we have been in close contact with colleagues at the European Defence Agency and Ministries of Defence across Europe to raise awareness of the potential of FCH technologies for decarbonising civil applications within the defence sector. We hope to continue with this successful collaboration in our oncoming partnership and to extend it to the wider FCH community”.

Next Conference in 2022

 The 4th CF SEDSS III Conference and 1st back-to-back CF SEDSS III Energy Technology Solutions Conference is scheduled to take place in Grenoble, France, on 8-10 November 2022 under the auspices of the French EU Presidency and hosted by the Ministry of Armed Forces of France and the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA).

About the CF SEDSS

 The Consultation Forum for Sustainable Energy in the Defence and Security Sector (CF SEDSS) is a European Commission funded initiative managed by the EDA. This Forum was established with the primary goal to create a defence energy-related community to share information, knowledge and best practices on improving energy management, increasing energy efficiency and buildings performance, utilising renewable energy sources in the defence sector and enhancing the resilience of defence-related critical energy infrastructure. To address these objectives, and with the support of the European Commission, EDA has implemented two phases: the first phase took place from October 2015 to October 2017 and the second one from October 2017 to August 2019. Building on the successful outcome of these two phases and to address emerging and future challenges in the field of energy, EDA and the European Commission launched on 1 October 2019 the third phase, which will run over a period of four years until 30 September 2023. CF SEDSS phase III is funded by the European Union's (EU) horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the grant agreement No. 882171.

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