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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 is thus the technology pillar of the EU Energy and Climate policy. It sets 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 is to employ available resources in a smarter way through joint strategic planning and programming.

click to enlarge The SET-Plan implementation mechanisms

The SET-Plan creates a number of innovative mechanisms for achieving the required technology revolution (see diagram).

The Steering Group defines the overall strategy and reinforces the coherence between national, European and international efforts. It is composed of representatives from Member States governments and 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, CCS, 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, CCS) have been officially launched by issuing a Joint Statement supported by the public (European Commission, Member States) and private side (relevant industry) at the SET-Plan conference in Madrid, Spain 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, CCS 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.