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February 2005
Issue 3

Conference Reports

Media event in Uppsala

Following a successful media briefing last March in Almeria, Spain (see RENEWS Issue 2), DG Research organised a media briefing in November 2004 on developments in renewable energy. The one-day briefing was held at the University of Uppsala in Sweden. Attendees were able to enjoy a ride on a biogas-fuelled bus, and a visit to a local biomass-powered district heating plant.

The presentations focused on projects from two renewable energy areas: photovoltaics and biomass. In photovoltaics, there were presentations about alternative technologies to traditional silicon solar cells and about the fabrication of thin-film solar modules. In biomass, two projects were highlighted: ethanol production from biomass for use as a transport fuel, and hydrogen from biomass for use in fuel cells.

Some 40 representatives of the media attended the event, and had the opportunity to talk to researchers from over ten Member States involved in European renewable energy research projects. Representatives from the European Commission were on hand to provide concise information on EU research policies in renewable energy.

European Wind Energy Conference in London

The 2004 European Wind Energy Conference took part in London between 22 and 25 November. The maturity of the sector was apparent from the impressive 4 000 people attending and almost 250 companies in the exhibition. A research-orientated session organised by the European Commission presented progress in five sectors of wind energy research: turbines, blades and rotors, wind farms, integration, and demonstration. Other plenary sessions included the impact of policies on market development, and European and global markets. The wind-energy sector is developing well both in Europe and outside. Europe has a technical lead at present and offshore applications are the focus for many projects. Many multinational firms are now showing a growing interest and global competition is increasing.

Information day for proposers

Participants at the information day, 19 October 2004.
Participants at the information day, 19 October 2004.
Researchers and industry representatives interested in participating in the latest call for proposals in energy research (FP6-2004-ENERGY-3) had the opportunity to meet with fellow participants and European Commission staff at an information day in Brussels. The event, organised by the Unit “New and Renewable Energy Sources” in DG Research, was held at the Sheraton Conference Centre at Brussels Airport on 19 October 2004, and was attended by some 220 delegates.

The information day was a forum for exchange of information between the Commission and the call participants, and also amongst the participants themselves. In the morning session, the delegates listened to presentations covering the procedural issues of the call, such as submission of proposals, evaluation criteria, legal and contractual aspects, international cooperation and use of the CORDIS database.

In the afternoon, four parallel sessions were held on biomass, photovoltaics, other renewables (wind, geothermal, ocean, solar thermal) and socio-economic tools. During these sessions, representatives from the various research consortia presented their ideas and their proposals in preparation. These sessions provided the opportunity for presenters to receive feedback from their peers, and also from the Commission staff. Participants were able to meet and discuss face to face with researchers from other countries, many from the new Member States, which led to promising ideas for enhancing ongoing research partnerships and the creation of new ones.

Bio-energy workshop in Russia

An EU-Russia workshop on bio-energy was organised by the Energy Directorate of DG Research in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation on 7-8 October 2004. The aim of the workshop, hosted at the All Russian Thermal Institute in Moscow, was to explore the opportunities for Russian participation in “Sustainable Energy Systems” activities in FP6.

Russia is eligible to participate and may receive funding in FP6 projects, as it is one of over 100 “target countries” identified in the International Cooperation (INCO) initiative in FP6. In addition, the EU and Russia have signed a ‘Scientific and Technological Co-operation Agreement’, which entered into force on 10 May 2001.

During the workshop, representatives from the consortia of EU-funded projects presented 14 ongoing biomass projects. Commission staff presented the latest call for proposals in the sustainable energy systems, which included bio-energy topics such as energy crops, biomass co-firing, and standardisation issues. Russian scientists also presented their ongoing work.

The event was attended by some 70 delegates, although Russian participation was limited to groups from the Moscow area, and institutions from other regions of Russia were not present.

Renewable energy in Denver

The 8thWorld Renewable Energy Congress – Linking the World with Renewable Energy – took place in Denver Colorado between 29 August and 3 September 2004. The conference was hosted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and attracted 915 participants from 82 countries. Progress in all areas of renewable technologies, including hydrogen and fuel cells, was discussed. Contributions by several state and city administrations in the US clearly showed their concern about climate change and presented many local activities in support of renewable energy sources. Also notable was the very strong participation and engagement of researchers from third world countries, in particular from Asia and Africa.

EU and China share experience on biofuel

Beijing workshop, November 2004.
Beijing workshop, November 2004.
A two-day workshop on liquid biofuels in Beijing during November brought together a 20-strong group from Europe and 80 of China’s leading experts and researchers to identify current technical challenges and ways to enhance RTD co-operation opportunities between the EU and China.

Europe and China share concerns on fossil fuel dependence and both sides see biofuel deployment as a key alternative in transport applications for economic, environmental and security of supply reasons. Biofuels are a key priority in both the European Commission’s Sustainable Energy Systems Work Programme and in China’s tenth Five-Year Plan on R&D for Renewable Energy. Both regions are promoting biofuel use via legislative initiatives.

Topics at the workshop included experience in the production and use of biofuels, production of bioethanol from lignocellulose and energy crops, next-generation biofuels, and energy crops for biofuel production. Current annual capacity in Europe for ethanol and biodiesel production is 400 000 tonnes and 1.5 million tonnes respectively, compared to 1 million tonnes and 100 000 tonnes in China. The largest bioethanol plant in the world is in China’s Jilin Province, and it produces 600 000 tonnes a year, using European technology to process corn.

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