Joint Research Centre - European Commission

The European Commission's in-house science service
European Commission

The European Strategic Energy Technology (SET)-Plan aims to transform energy production and use in the EU with the goal of achieving EU worldwide leadership in the production of energy

The European Strategic Energy Technology (SET)-Plan aims to transform energy production and use in the EU with the goal of achieving EU worldwide leadership in the production of energy

Supporting innovation in strategic energy technologies


Today the Commission published a Communication setting out a strategy to enable the EU to have a world-class technology and innovation sector fit for coping with the challenges up to 2020 and beyond. The document stresses the need for accelerating innovation in cutting edge low-carbon technologies and innovative solutions, for reducing costs rapidly and speeding up the introduction of new technologies to the market.

The JRC has considerably contributed with an evaluation of the implementation of the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-plan) during the period 2010-2012 and two working documents.

In the first, the JRC has analysed the investments done in research and development (R&D) for the SET-Plan technologies. It was estimated that the total R&D and demonstration (RD&D) investment in 2010 was EUR 5.3 billion which is within the goal set by the Communication on financing the SET Plan (2009). As many EU countries have similar priorities in RD&D spending, a lot could be gained from improving trans-national collaboration.   

In the second document, the JRC has assessed the energy technology cost reductions beyond 2020 for the transition to a decarbonised European energy system by 2050. The assessment showed that focused RD&D can significantly reduce the cost of low carbon technologies, up to 30-80% from the current levels, by 2050.

Last but not least, the JRC reviewed the implementation of the SET-plan. The review shows that although much has been achieved so far, many opportunities could be further exploited by focusing on the integration of energy systems and with activities along the innovation chain. Stronger coordination of actors and investments is also required to accelerate development and market uptake.    

With these studies, the JRC has continued to provide scientific support to an initiative that sets out a strategy ensuring that EU countries will continue to have a world class technology and innovation sector, capable of tackling the challenges of 2020 and beyond.

Key messages from the Communication

The new Communication highlights that the EU's contribution to accelerating innovation in this area is to focus on large-scale efforts which go beyond what Member States can achieve alone or bilaterally, promoting innovation through regulation and financing. This should be done by exploiting synergies between economic sectors (e.g. energy, ICT, transport, agriculture). The key efforts need to be reflected equally in private sector and Member State investments and the implementation needs to be increasingly based on partnerships allowing the necessary scale and scope.

Among the measures proposed: the development of an Integrated Roadmap addressing the energy system as a whole and measures along the entire innovation chain by the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan stakeholders and the design of Action Plans with Member States. Energy efficiency is increasing its visibility through creation of a coordination structure for energy efficiency under the Steering Group of the SET Plan, and the promotion of investments in research and innovation.