Towards a European Strategic Energy Technology Plan
Developing clean, efficient and low-carbon energy technologies is essential if the European Union is to face up to today's energy and environmental challenges and set an example for other countries. It is with these aims in mind that the European Commission announces the launch of a European Strategic Energy Technology (SET) plan.
Commission Communication of 10 January 2007: "Towards a European Strategic Energy Technology Plan" [COM(2006) 847 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
The European Union (EU) - just like the rest of the world - is faced with major challenges as regards energy and the environment: these include ever-increasing global demand for energy, volatile prices, rising emissions of the greenhouse gases responsible for climate change, and unstable oil and gas supplies, with reserves concentrated in just a few countries.
Urgent efforts are required if we are to prevent the worldwide energy situation from getting even worse.
Developing new energy technologies can play a decisive role here and help to achieve the EU's goals of reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 20% between now and 2020 and increasing by 20% the share of renewable sources in Europe's energy mix.
The EU therefore intends to adopt a European Strategic Energy Technology (SET) plan to speed up the development of clean, efficient and low-carbon technologies.
The vital role of energy technologies
Energy technologies have a key role to play in providing energy that is at once competitive and sustainable.
Technology can bring substantial advances for energy efficiency, the use of renewable energy sources, the reduced use of fossil fuels, the gradual decarbonisation of transport and power stations, and the use of nuclear power. Also, information and communication technologies can help in managing and reducing energy demand.
Energy technologies therefore not only play a part in ensuring secure, sustainable supplies at reasonable prices, but also contribute to growth and jobs in Europe.
European-level research has already delivered results in this field - in increasing the output and lowering the costs of wind and photovoltaic energy, for example. European Technology Platforms have also been set up in order to coordinate efforts. Financial backing for research and demonstration will be provided under the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technical Development, with a 50% increase in annual spending on energy research, and under the " Intelligent Energy - Europe " programme. More needs to be done, however.
A European Strategic Energy Technology (SET) plan
The SET plan will contribute to the development of a more sustainable energy system that is up to today's challenges.
The plan will build up a portfolio of more efficient, cleaner and more competitive energy technologies. It will establish stable and predictable conditions for the finance sector and for companies, especially SMEs, developing, providing backing for, and/or disseminating these technologies. It will also influence European citizens' socio-economic behaviour by encouraging better energy use.
The SET plan will help to drive the whole process of technological innovation from basic research through to commercial production. It will enable Community and national instruments to be used to the best possible effect, thus helping to accelerate technology development ("technology push"), in particular the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Development, and market introduction ("demand pull"), especially the "Intelligent Energy - Europe" programme.
The strategic element of the plan will be to identify those technologies for which it is essential to mobilise resources at European level in order to accelerate development and deployment. To achieve this in a targeted and coordinated way, the Commission proposes establishing firm partnerships, defining precise objectives and evaluating the associated risks and resources.
Drawing up the SET plan
The Commission intends to put forward a first European Strategic Energy Technology Plan at the Spring 2008 European Council, after consulting all stakeholders (industry, researchers, the finance sector, public authorities, energy consumers, civil society, unions).
This communication is part of a package of measures setting out a European energy policy, as presented by the Commission on 10 January 2007.