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July 2004 - Issue 2

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EoI report published

The Commission has published a report on the Expressions of Interest (EoI) submitted between November 2003 and March 2004 in response to an invitation issued by the European Commission for the medium- and long-term research actions in the field of Sustainable Energy Systems. The submissions contributed towards the mid-term revision of the work programme in this research area. The content of the EoIs, together with stakeholder consultations, the opinion of the Advisory Group for energy and the discussions of the Energy Programme Committee formed the basis of the topics for the call for proposals to be published in September 2004.

The report provides basic statistics on the 419 EoIs that were received and analysed. For example biomass, with 67 EoIs, was the most popular activity. The report contains a list of research topics that are considered promising for generating relevant and good proposals.

Report and a search tool to access individual non-confidential submissions

European Technology Platforms

In areas where research has a vital role to play in addressing major economic, technological or societal challenges, European Technology Platforms can provide a means to foster effective public-private partnerships between the research community, industry and policy-makers. More effective research and innovation can contribute directly to achieving the Lisbon objectives: developing the European Research Area and increasing investment in Research and Technological Development (RTD).

In essence, a Technology Platform (TP) is a mechanism to bring together all interested stakeholders, particularly from the private sector, to develop a long-term vision addressing a specific challenge, creating a coherent, dynamic strategy to achieve that vision and steering the implementation of an action plan to optimise benefits for all parties.

Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin, together with Bernd Pischetsrieder of Volkswagen and Bob Routs of Shell International, filling the tank with sunfuel at the ‘Gas to Liquids and Sunfuel’ conference organised in Brussels.
Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin, together with Bernd Pischetsrieder of Volkswagen and Bob Routs of Shell International, filling the tank with sunfuel at the ‘Gas to Liquids and Sunfuel’ conference organised in Brussels.

The driving forces behind a TP will vary according to the specific challenges and the characteristics of the sector concerned. Although established sectors (e.g. steel) will have very different characteristics and needs compared with new or emerging ones (e.g. nanotechnology), the common thread should always be the strategic importance of the sector, the European dimension and the importance of the role of research in fully achieving the potential benefits.

Despite being a flexible and adaptable concept, TPs will not be an appropriate mechanism for all sectors and initially only a limited number of TPs will be established. Within the energy sector, a TP on Hydrogen and fuel cells was established in September 2003 and a TP on photovoltaics is in the process of formation.

Further information on Technology Platforms

Consultation on future European research policy

The European Commission has presented its ideas for the development of the future European Union programme supporting research activities and policies. The communication ‘Science and Technology, the key to Europe’s future – guidelines for future European Union policy to support research’ implies a significant expansion of the European Community research budget for the period 2007-2013.

  • The communication identifies six major objectives:
  • Creating European centres of excellence through collaboration between laboratories
  • Launching European technological initiatives
  • Stimulating the creativity of basic research through competition between teams at European level
  • Making Europe more attractive to the best researchers Developing research infrastructure of European interest
  • Improving the coordination of national research programmes

The Commission is now seeking comments and suggestions from all interested parties. To facilitate this process, an online questionnaire has been compiled. Completion of the form should only take 10-15 minutes and the consultation is open until 15 October 2004.

Further information on the consultation process

Following the consultation and wider debate and analysis, the Commission will present its legislative proposals for the Seventh Framework Programme for RTD during 2005.

RTD strategy plan for wind energy

A coordinated industry-wide Research and Development Strategy on wind energy was officially launched by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) in Brussels on 27 January 2004. Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin stressed that this RTD strategy will be an important reference in order to maintain Europe’s technological and industrial leadership in the future and is also a valuable contribution for creating a European Research Area with more coherent research activities on the European scale. The plan, which is being set up under the EU-funded ‘Wind Energy Thematic Network’ – an FP5 funded project – , is necessary because, as the wind industry grows, increased global competition is expected, and European leadership can only be maintained by intensive RTD.

First RTD strategy report

Environmental Technologies Action Plan

Further development of photovoltaics is one of the key measures in the Environmental Technologies Action Plan (ETAP) that was announced by the Commission in January 2004 to encourage the development and wider use of environmentally friendly technologies. Through the adoption of such sustainable technologies, ETAP seeks to reduce the pressures on natural resources, improve the quality of life of European citizens and stimulate economic growth. A European Panel on Environmental Technologies will be set up to work towards the implementation of the measures.

More information

Alternative Fuels Directive

The European Commission is drafting a Directive aimed at putting more pressure on EU states to increase the share of greener, alternative automotive fuels up to 2020. The draft requires Member States to present appropriate Action Plans, and could set alternative fuel-use targets for 2010, 2015 and 2020. The final report of an industry contact group set up by the Commission in 2002 to advise on the technical and economic aspects of alternative fuels suggests that, by 2020, market penetration of 15% for biomass derived fuels, 10% for natural gas, 5% for LPG, and a few percent for hydrogen is feasible. This compares with a total existing goal of 20% by 2020 set in the European Commission's 2001 White Paper on transport. The assessment identifies advanced biomass fuels produced from agricultural land, waste, forestry and setaside land, as well as hydrogen production from wind and nuclear, as the fuel sources with the greatest emission reduction potential.

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