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October 2005
Issue 4

News

Commission Proposes FP7 Specific Programmes

The Commission published its proposed specific programmes for FP7 on 22 September 2005. This article describes the overall structure and objectives of the Framework Programme and its different themes, before going into more detail on the parts relevant to renewable energy research.

Janez PotočnikCommissioner for Science and Research
Janez Potočnik
Commissioner for Science and Research
FP7 is organised into four specific programmes, simply speaking:

Co-operation

More than half of the FP7 budget will support cooperation between universities, industry, research centres and public authorities to gain leadership through research excellence in key scientific and technology areas.

Ideas

A European Research Council will be set up to stimulate creativity and excellence by funding basic or frontier research by individual teams competing at European level.

People

Marie Curie actions in training, mobility and careers development to develop and strengthen the human potential of European research.

Capacities

EU research and innovation capacity is to be enhanced through the improvement of research infrastructures, regional research clusters, SME actions, and international co-operation.


The specific programme on Co-operation includes nine themes for collaborative research: energy; health; food, agriculture and biotechnology; information and communication technologies; nanosciences, nanotechnologies, materials and new production technologies; environment; transport; socio-economic sciences and the humanities; security and space. Nuclear fission and fusion energy, including ITER, are covered by a separate Framework Programme under the Euratom Treaty.

The objective of the energy theme is to transform the current fossil-fuel based energy system into a more sustainable one based on a diverse portfolio of energy sources and carriers. Complemented by enhanced energy efficiency, the aim is to address the challenges of security of supply and climate change, while increasing the competitiveness of the EU's energy industries. As usual, nuclear energy is covered by a separate Framework Programme under the Euratom Treaty.

The main activities in renewable energies are itemised below under the headings of renewable electricity generation, renewable fuel production, and renewables for heating and cooling. Further work relevant to RES is also included in energy policy making, smart energy networks, and energy efficiency and savings. The other areas of energy research are hydrogen and fuel cells, CO2 capture and storage, and clean coal technologies.

Renewable Electricity Generation

The emphasis will be on higher efficiency and lower- cost electricity generation from photovoltaics, wind and biomass, while at the same time aiming to realise the full potential of geothermal, thermal solar, ocean and small hydropower.

Renewable Fuel Production

The aim is to improve biomass conversion technologies to produce solid, liquid and gaseous fuels, in particular liquid biofuels for transport. The focus will be on new types of biofuels and new production and distribution routes for existing biofuels, including biorefineries integrating the production of energy and other added value products.

Renewables for Heating and Cooling

The aim is to realise the potential of renewable energy sources for use in applications such as district and space heating and cooling, industry, buildings, and energy storage, and under different regional conditions.

International Co-operation

An increasingly important element of energy research and strategically important multilateral co-operation initiatives such as the Johannesburg Renewable Energy Coalition (JREC) and affordable energy for the poor will be supported.

The energy theme also includes the possibility to carry out research into emerging needs and unforeseen policy needs where a quick reaction might be needed, for instance in response tp severe disruptions or energy supply or price instabilities.

Further details will be published on the CORDIS FP7 website at http://www.cordis.lu/fp7/

FIRST ENERGY RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURES WORKSHOP

This workshop was held in Brussels to help prepare ideas for FP7 actions to support research infrastructures for sustainable energy technologies. The workshop was jointly organised by the Research Directorate’s units for new and renewable energies and scientific research infrastructures. Twenty-five participants representing a wide range of energy research areas such as renewables, H2 and fuel cells took part. The main conclusions were that existing infrastructures are highly fragmented, and that most of them are either obsolete or under-used. To achieve the FP7 aim for excellence in the field, much remains to be done to improve networking and cooperation at national level, develop sectorial road maps, and address the important question of cross-cutting research.

A follow-up workshop will take place in January, with the added participation of nuclear energy researchers. A full report on the second workshop and its main conclusions will appear in the next issue of the newsletter.

Additional information including the proceedings of the workshops can be found at: http://www.cordis.lu/infrastructures/

Circular wave tank at University of Edinburgh
Circular wave tank at University of Edinburgh

SIXTH EUROPEAN WAVE AND TIDAL ENERGY CONFERENCE

The conference, organised by the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, was the sixth in a series which began in 1993. It was attended by more than 200 participants from 12 countries, including USA, Canada, Australia, Japan and India.

The conference was opened by the Deputy First Minister of the Scottish Executive, Nicol Stephen, who referred to the UK Department of Trade and Industry plans for marine renewables and to the Scottish Executive decision to support the deployment of wave and tidal energy technologies.

Over 90 technical papers were presented dealing mainly with methodologies, device performance appraisal, benchmarking and operating experience with prototype devices.

The need for common terminology and standardisation was also addressed.

The proposal to create a professional ocean energy association was overwhelmingly welcomed and more than 30 companies including utilities declared their interest to participate. The next conference will be held in Portugal in 2007, by when it is expected that additional prototype devices will have been installed.

Conference proceedings will be available from November and can be accessed via: http://www.ewtec.net

Fourth Call for Proposals for Sustainable Energy Systems:

Research activities having an impact in the medium and longer term

Call identifier: FP6-2005-Energy-4

The recently published Fourth Call, which is the last one in FP6, has its deadline on 10 January 2006. The indicative budget is 20 M€, with half to be allocated to RES projects.

The Call topics include some strategically important ones which were insufficiently covered by projects selected in the Third Call, but the limited budget means that not all of the topics left over from the Third Call can be included this time. The Call also includes items intended to help prepare the transition to FP7, support the running of technology platforms, and enhance international cooperation initiatives.

The topics of particular relevance to renewable energies are as follows:

  • One SSA proposal to support the establishment and running of a European Technology Platform in the field of “biofuels for transport."
  • One CA Proposal for the networking and coordination of research and innovation activities in the area of stable organic PV cells and modules. The objective is to coordinate the EU research in the area of organic and dye-sensitised nanocrystalline materials, with a view to the accelerated development of low-cost, stable PV cells. Activities could include the development of a research strategy for the area, the setting-up of efficient tools and structures for communication between researchers, and dissemination of information to industry. Efforts should be made to include innovative SMEs.
  • One IP on the integrated production of energy and other products through the concept of the biorefinery. The objective is to cover the whole chain from various biomass feedstock to upgraded bio-products (chemicals and/or materials), refined fuels and energy through the biorefinery approach. Research should address advanced fractionation and conversion processes combining biochemical and thermochemical pathways. The proposal should involve process development from lab scale to pilot plant.
  • One STREP on pre-normative research and standardisation on solid biofuels. Research should address the development of rapid testing methods and quality management and should aim to prepare for future standardisation and certification.
  • One STREP on R&D on high throughput industrial manufacturing of thin-film silicon PV modules using low-cost roll-to-roll technology. The objective is to develop roll-to-roll technology for multi-junction thin film silicon resulting in modules costing less than 0.5 €/Wp and with at least 11% efficiency and with a stability of more than 20 years.

Note that this is the first call where proposals can only be submitted using the web-based Electronic Proposal Submission System (EPSS). In exceptional cases, however, a co-ordinator may request permission from the Commission to submit on paper in advance of a call deadline.

The full details of the Call including all the documents available for download can be found in the Cordis website at http://fp6.cordis.lu/fp6/calls_activity.cfm?ID_ACTIVITY= 315

Photovoltaic Technology Platform

The Steering Committee of the Photovoltaic Technology Platform met for the first time on 10 May 2005 in Brussels. Following a further two meetings in June and July (in Barcelona and Brussels respectively), the structure of the platform has been finalised and the members of the working groups have been selected.

Providing continuity from the PV TRAC, Emiliano Perezagua from Isofoton is the chairman of the Steering Committee. He is supported by vice-chairmen Joachim Luther, from Fraunhofer ISE, and Hans Willemsen, from Shell Solar. The platform will comprise four working groups:
(i) policy and instruments,
(ii) information, promotion, education and market deployment,
(iii) science, technology and application, and
(iv) developing countries.
Each working group consists of about 20-25 members, and is headed by a member of the Steering Committee.

It is expected that the Photovoltaic Technology Platform will deliver its Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) at the platform's General Assembly in May 2006. The SRA will be a key resource for defining the photovoltaic research activities in the 7th Framework Programme.

More information

First Steps towards a European Biofuels Technology Platform

The establishment of a European Biofuels Technology Platform is high on the European agenda for the development, promotion and implementation of biofuels. It is intended to provide and implement a common European vision and strategy for the production of biofuels, in particular for transport applications, which is compatible with present-day infrastructures.

To prepare the Technology Platform, a high-level Advisory Council has been established. The Biofuels Research Advisory Council (BIOFRAC) consists of members who represent a balance of the major European biofuels stakeholders, including the agricultural and forestry sectors, food industry, biofuels industry, oil companies and fuel distributors, car manufacturers and research institutes. The first two meetings took place on 15 June and 13 July 2005 in Brussels.

The initial mission of BIOFRAC is to develop a vision report which should address all the issues that are relevant to ensure a breakthrough of biofuels and increase their deployment in the EU, with an emphasis on research, development and demonstration. The vision report is intended to become a reference document for all stakeholders including policy-makers and will also be supportive in the development and implementation of the 7th Framework Programme for research (FP7).

Public documents related to the work of BIOFRAC are available on the CIRCA website at: http://forum.europa.eu.int/Public/irc/rtd/biofrac/home

UNIDO MARINE CURRENTS CONFERENCE

The conference was organised on 14-15 September 2005 by UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organisation) and Ponte di Archimede in Messina. It aimed to promote the marine currents technology and in particular the KOBOLD turbine, a result of a successful project from the Fourth Framework Programme. Among the participants were delegations from the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Indonesia and the Republic of the Philippines underlying the international interest in the developments of ocean energy.

20th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference

The major European conference for photovoltaics was held in Barcelona, on 6-10 June 2005. Over 2,100 people attended the event at the International Convention Centre.

The technical content of the conference encompassed a considerable range of activities, including fundamental science, industrial processing, market introduction and deployment programmes. There were about 270 oral presentations and 800 posters displayed, and the research topics included organic and polymer solar cells, ultra high efficiency cells, multi-junction cells and concentrating cells with sun-tracking. There was a special session on new concepts in photovoltaics, held in the framework of the EU-funded Integrated Project, Full Spectrum. Regarding silicon wafer technology, manufacturers reported increased production capacities, while many new pilot plants incorporating industrial scaling-up were announced for thin-film technologies. The potential for low-cost, high-efficiency multi-junction thin film material was highlighted.

The European Becquerel Prize was awarded to Prof. Joachim Luther, Director of Fraunhofer ISE. The prize committee commended Prof. Luther's contribution to the scientific achievements of the renowned solar research institute, Fraunhofer ISE. They also cited his successful promotion of technology transfer between research and industry, and his participation in numerous national and international bodies.

The exhibition area of almost 10,000m2 accommodated some 270 companies and organisations. In addition to cell and module manufacturers, many other businesses were well represented, e.g. concentrators and trackers, measurement control, inverter manufacturers and service providers. There was a notable presence of Chinese companies at the exhibition, reflecting the growing importance of photovoltaics in China.

The 21st European Photovoltaic Solar Energy conference will be held on 4-8 September 2006 in Dresden, Germany.

For more information:
http://www.photovoltaic-conference.com
http://www.epia.org/08Events/Barcelona2005/
Events_Ba2005_01.htm

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