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The European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan)

Advanced energy technologies are crucial when fighting against climate change and securing energy supply. Europe's ambitious climate and energy targets cannot be met without deploying more efficient energy technologies. The SET-Plan has been the technology pillar of the EU Energy and Climate policy since it was established in 2007.

It set out a long-term energy research, demonstration and innovation agenda for Europe, including concrete strategic milestones to be achieved in the coming years. The main idea of the SET-Plan was to employ available resources in a smarter way through joint strategic planning and programming.

The SET-Plan created an innovative governance structure for achieving the required technology revolution.

The Steering Group  PDF icon 249 KB defines the overall strategy and reinforces the coherence between national, European and international efforts. It is composed of representatives from Member States governments, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey. It is chaired by the Commission.

The Steering Group is supported by the open-access SET-Plan Information System (SETIS). This system provides up-to-date information on the state of energy technologies as well as on the human and financial resources involved.

On a sectoral level seven European Industrial Initiatives (on Solar Energy, Bioenergy, Wind Energy, Carbon Capture and Storage, Smartgrids, Smart Cities and Sustainable Nuclear Fission) bring together the industry active in each of these areas. Each initiative has set itself an ambitious target and has established a Technology Roadmap and Implementation Plan with concrete milestones. The first Initiatives (solar, wind, electricity grids, carbon capture and storage) have been officially launched by issuing a Joint Statement PDF icon supported by the public (European Commission, Member States) and private side (relevant industry) at the SET-Plan conference in Madrid, Spain (Final Report PDF icon) in June 2010. In this statement all parties committed themselves to support the Initiative's objectives. The bioenergy and sustainable nuclear energy inititatives were launched at the SET-plan conference in Brussels, Belgium, in November 2010.

click to enlarge Technology Roadmap for the Industrial Initiatives on wind, solar and nuclear fission
click to enlarge Technology roadmap for the Industrial Initiatives on Smartgrids, Carbon Capture and Storage and Bioenergy

Europe's leading energy research centres work together in the European Energy Research Alliance (EERA). The Alliance conceives and implements Joint Research Programmes in support of the SET-Plan. This is done by pooling and integrating talent, activities and resources from National Research Institutes in Europe, combining national and Community sources of funding and maximising complementarities and synergies. Universities engaged in energy research are involved in the EERA through a dedicated European Energy Research Platform established by the European University Association (EUA). EERA launched its first Joint Programmes in the area of wind, photovoltaics, smartgrids and geothermal energy in June 2010. EERA members bring in more than 500 men-years in these Joint Programmes.

Decarbonising the economy will neither be easy nor cheap. In the context of the SET-Plan the additional public and private investment necessary for achieving the 2020 targets has been estimated at around EUR 50 billion for the next ten years.

The SET Plan evolution

The SET Plan Integrated Roadmap was presented on 10 December 2014 in Rome during the 7th SET Plan Conference. It was the result of in-depth consultation and inputs from more than 150 stakeholders and the SET Plan steering committee from the Member States. Over 650 energy stakeholders from all across Europe and beyond gathered to discuss the new developments of the SET Plan addressing research and innovation challenges and needs of the EU energy system.

The Integrated Roadmap (pdf icon 2.76 MB) addressed the research and innovation needs of the entire energy system. It is structured along four main energy policy challenges:  active consumers, demand (energy efficiency), system optimisation and supply. This approach, which integrates all the elements of the energy system, is recognised as a pioneering action to foster the transition to a low-carbon economy.

On 15 September 2015 the Communication Towards the Integrated SET (SET) Plan: Accelerating the European Energy System Transformation was adopted and presented during the 8th SET Plan conference on 21 and 22 September 2015 in Luxembourg.

The new SET Plan responds to the new challenges of the Energy Union strategy.  It puts forward:

  • A more targeted focus with ten actions structured around research and innovation priorities of the Energy Union;
  • A more integrated approach moving away from a vertical and technology-specific focus to a more horizontally integrated approach looking at the energy system as a whole;
  • A new SET Plan management to ensure an increased transparency, accountability and monitoring of the progress achieved, as well as a result-oriented approach;
  • A strengthened partnership between the Commission and the Member States, among the Member States themselves leading to more joint actions and better coordination, with the stakeholders taking account of the need to widen to new actors to face the new challenges.
The ten actions have been identified on the basis of the Integrated Roadmap developed with stakeholders and Member States during the last two years and the new political priorities defined in the Energy Union. In the months to come, these ten actions will serve as a starting point for discussions with Member States and stakeholders on the prioritisation of activities to be implemented at regional, national and European level.