Technology Focus – Results
More money needed for renewables research
An analysis of research spending on renewable energy has highlighted the need for increased funding from private sources and maintenance of significant public support. The REDS Specific Support Action, funded by the EU under FP5, undertook an analytical survey of R&D expenditure on renewable energy sources (RES) in the Union as a whole and in individual EU-15 Member States. The project examined research and development spending in the field of renewable energy at different administrative levels (local, national, regional, etc.) in the decade 1992-2001, with a particular focus on 2000 and 2001. The availability of consistent data for all EU-15 countries in the last decade allowed a valid comparison both on an historical basis and between countries.
Based on a questionnaire methodology, the work was undertaken by the Bocconi University (IT), theFraunhofer Institute (DE), and accountancy consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers. The report made four main observations:
- more than half of the renewable energy research is done by the public sector;
- one-quarter of this public spending comes directly from the EU budget;
- one-third of the EU-15 government research spending and half of the personnel working on research for renewable energy sources are from Germany;
- Denmark, The Netherlands and Sweden have the highest ratio of research spending on renewables in comparison to their GDP.
These results may help to define a European research policy in the field of renewables. In addition, the results can be used to develop a better framework for the introduction of renewables in the European energy system.
Comparisons of research development and demonstration spending, and the renewable energies spending for EU-15 and member states
However, the report shows that there is much to be done to address three major EU energy policy objectives: ensuring improved security of energy supply; increasing the proportion of power generated from renewable sources; and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Renewable energies research spending is not uniform across the Union with clear differences evident in resource allocations and priorities. The EC’s “3% Action Plan” calls on Europe to increase the amount spent on R&D to 3% of European GDP. This will require a significant boost to R&D investment in RES from private sources. To maintain the technical lead that Europe enjoys in many areas of renewable technology, dedicated research efforts, both at the national and European levels, must be increased. At the same time, better coordination and integration will ensure that efforts are not duplicated.
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