The Net Zero Industry Act should be technology neutral and adopt a more inclusive view of permit processes

Friday 5th May 2023 was the closing date for receipt of submissions to the Swedish government concerning the EU Commission’s Net Zero Industry Act, NZIA. Jernkontoret, in its submission, highlights the importance of quicker permit processes for all operations, not only selected ones. In addition, the importance of technology neutrality in the legislation is raised so that technical advances are not limited to those technologies adjudged to be important today. A flexible and open approach to new technologies developed in future is essential.

Jernkontoret’s CEO, Annika Roos, and Director of Energy and Environment, Helén Axelsson, comment Jernkontoret’s submission relating to the EU Commission’s proposal for the Net Zero Industry Act. Portrait photo: Pia Nordlander.

The EU Commission has drawn up a new proposal for regulation of industry called the Net Zero Industry Act.

The Act’s purpose is to strengthen innovation, the scaling up of solutions and access to net zero technologies which support the EU’s climate goals while at the same time guaranteeing a stable energy system. In addition, the Act should contribute to creating skilled jobs.

Although Jernkontoret supports this purpose, the proposal includes only technologies that relate to energy supply. Instead, Jernkontoret seeks to extend the scope of the Act to support the transformation process throughout the value chain. This is also a prerequisite for the climate goals to be achieved.

Jernkontoret’s submission also highlights the problem of limiting the development to certain selected technologies. This impedes innovation and the development of technologies that are not yet available today. The lists of technologies which are part of the proposal should be removed; otherwise, they should be viewed as examples and not limiting in any way.

Technology neutrality the rule that the legislation should not promote certain selected technologies is a fundamental principle that must be honoured. We are opposed to the EU Commission having selected certain technologies. Technology is in constant development but this approach doesn’t offer scope for either innovation or flexibility, says Helén Axelsson, Director of Energy and Environment at Jernkontoret.

In the consultation response, Jernkontoret expresses its support for the Commission’s intention that the permit processes shall be speeded up through bringing together the permits in a "one-stop-shop" and setting time frames for the permit processes.

On the other hand, it is problematic that the Commission intends that certain technologies and projects shall benefit from a fast track in the process of granting permits. This then affects the activity that has to stand back for other projects to get priority.

The permit processes represent a wide-ranging problem within Swedish industry and requires a holistic approach, something that Jernkontoret and other sectors of industry have long highlighted the importance of.

– The permit process is a critical bottleneck in the conversion of industry that is required for Sweden to achieve its climate goals. This really demands that a solution other than that certain selected projects have priority, which only risks delaying the permit processes for other activities, says Annika Roos, CEO at Jernkontoret.

Read Jernkontoret’s submission here (only in Swedish)