Research launched today reveals that EU citizens are set to pocket $209bn by adopting innovative smog-reduction technologies over the next seven years.

The study by clean energy innovator InnoEnergy, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology and Deloitte comes in response to the European Commission’s findings that smog may account for as many as 1 in every 10 premature deaths in the world, and will cost the EU an astonishing $543bn between now and 2025 – representing 2.9 per cent of average annual GDP.

Launched in Brussels, the report takes an in-depth look at the issue of air quality across the continent – highlighting transport and heating solutions to protect European citizens from pollution and its impact on health.

Jerzy Buzek, Chair of the European Parliament Industry, Research and Energy Committee and former President of the European Parliament, said: “Smog is one of the most critical public health concerns of the century. The Clean Air Challenge report offers practical solutions that could help improve our citizens’ health and that could benefit the whole society. We must start implementing it throughout the EU without any delay.”

The report offers four key areas in which greater innovation could deliver a significant cut in emissions: Electromobility; Smart public transport systems; Smart buildings; and distributed generation and storage.

The study states that in Europe, air pollution is primarily a result of the combustion of hydrocarbons in road transport and heating. Emissions of NOx and NO2 in particular are primarily the result of road transport. Emissions from household and commercial heating are known as ‘low-stack emissions’ and are caused largely by the use of low-quality heating fuels and old furnaces.

The report makes four high-level policy recommendations:  

Green and sustainable growth as an overarching goal
Green growth should be key for both the private and public sector as it increases the quality of life for current and future generations. This requires good coordination across all environmental policies, thus linking them with the current socio-economic context.

There should be sufficient room for markets with smart interventions. 
A smart balance of market-based instruments and a top-down approach is needed to address potential trade-offs between securing important goods like economic welfare, mobility, air quality, health, ecosystems, affordable housing, and cheap energy.

Education and social awareness as a foundation for successful adoption of green innovations
Investing in education and raising social awareness should not only be one of the priorities for the public agenda, but also a responsibility of businesses and NGOs. Air quality policies should be seen and promoted within the wider socio-economic spectrum so as to ensure that the measures implemented are adequate.

And an enhanced statistical framework and new data sources are needed to induce innovative activities
Strengthening statistical capacity is fundamental for improving the process of planning and executing private investments as well as evidence-based policies. Decentralized data sources provided by sensors, apps, and intelligent devices might largely reduce information asymmetry and, in effect, boost innovation and investments.

InnoEnergy chief executive Diego Pavia said: “It is shocking that in this day and age, smog should still pose such a risk to the health of our communities. Putting the huge economic cost to one side, there is no reason, with the technology that is becoming available to us, that citizens should not be able to breathe clean air.

“At InnoEnergy, we like to tackle problems head-on and this is no exception. Not only are we making available further research to better understand the issue and identify practical solutions, but we are also actively seeking opportunities to offer investment and wider support to ambitious businesses with passion and a plan to put a stop to smog.”

Innoenergy is exhibiting at European Utility Week in Vienna in November, where the company is also one of the lead partners of the event’s Initiate programme, an innovator platform in which start-ups, young talent and those at the forefront of the smart energy revolution share their latest ideas and inventions. For more details click here.