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May 2006
Issue 5

News

The Fourth Call for Proposals

The Fourth Call deadline for 'Sustainable Energy Systems – research activities having an impact in the medium and longer term' was on 10 January 2006. The indicative budget was 20 M€, with half to be allocated to renewable energy (RES) projects.

The Call topics included some strategically important ones, which were insufficiently covered by projects selected in the Third Call, as well as items intended to help prepare the transition to FP7, support the running of technology platforms and enhance international co-operation initiatives.

This was the first call in Sustainable Energy where proposals could only be submitted using the Electronic Proposal Submission System (EPSS). Another innovation was the use of a remote evaluation step where the twenty-eight independent experts, who assisted the Commission in the evaluation process, performed their individual evaluations at home via an on-line internet-based system before gathering in Brussels for the consensus and panel stages of the evaluation.

Sixty-four proposals were submitted to the Call, of which an unusually high number, 21, were unfortunately out of scope. This left 43 in-scope proposals, including 12 on RES topics. Following the evaluation, four RES proposals were selected for funding. The largest proposal was an Integrated Project on the biorefinery concept for the production of energy and other products from biomass. The other proposals were for a STREP project on roll-to-roll manufacturing of thin film silicon modules, a Coordination Action on low-cost organic PV cells, and a Specific Support Action for the secretariat of the biofuels technology platform. These proposals will now go forward to the contract negotiation stage with the aim of beginning the projects by the end of the year.

The submitted proposals included a strong representation of SMEs, making up 22% of the proposers, as well as an increased participation from the ten new Member States of 7.2% of ranked proposals and also of organisations from third countries (INCO), with 17.2%. As far as gender was concerned, proposals led by women as coordinators were considerably more successful.

If savings are made during the negotiations of the first four proposals, or if additional funding becomes available, it might be possible to fund one or more projects on the reserve list in the RES area, though this will not be known until later in the year. The first on the reserve list deals with pre-normative research on solid biofuels for improved European standards.

The full details of the Call can be found on the Cordis website

Inauguration of the Renewable Energy House in Brussels

From left to right: Guy Verhofstadt, Prince Laurent of Belgium, José Manuel Barroso, Arthouros Zervos and Margot Wallström at the Renewable Energy House inauguration
From left to right: Guy Verhofstadt, Prince Laurent of Belgium, José Manuel Barroso, Arthouros Zervos and Margot Wallström at the Renewable Energy House inauguration
On 22 March, Commission President José Manuel Barroso, Vice-President Margot Wallström and Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas, together with Prince Laurent of Belgium and Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, inaugurated the building at Rue d’Arlon 63-65 in Brussels. The newly renovated, historically protected building generates more than 50% of its energy requirements from renewable energies.

All building heating and cooling requirements are met entirely through a combination of renewable energy sources. A biomass wood pellet boiler, 60 m2 of solar thermal collectors, four geothermal energy borehole loops (115m), a thermally-driven cooling machine and 3 kW of photovoltaics are all perfectly integrated into the building. In fact, the house provides a particularly good example of how these technologies can work together in a far from ideal location close to several tall buildings.

The building houses the majority of the European renewable energy associations and, given its demonstration character, it fully justifies and deserves the name ‘Renewable Energy House’.

14th European Biomass Conference

View of the Commission’s stand
View of the Commission’s stand
This major European biomass conference took place in Paris in October 2005. The conference attracted 1,142 participants from 78 countries.

Mr Pablo Fernandez Ruiz, Director for Energy in DG Research, addressed the audience in the opening session, highlighting the importance of the bioenergy field in the present Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) and the state of play with the preparations for FP7.

More than 50 exhibitors presented their products and services in the technology exhibition. One of the exhibition stands was organised by the DG RTD New and Renewable Energy Sources Unit, which displayed its activities in the area of renewable energy research and, in particular, biomass.

The event underlined the rapidly growing market in energy and other products derived from biomass, agricultural residues and energy-rich vegetation, and showed how they can contribute to alleviate the world’s pressing climate and environmental problems.

Sino-European Bilateral PV Workshop

The New and Renewable Energies Unit participated in this workshop, which was held in Shanghai in October 2005. It was organised by the Chinese and European Materials Research Societies just before the 15th International PV Science and Engineering Conference. It was attended by a wide range of stakeholders, including established European and Chinese

researchers and some leading industrial companies (not only PV manufacturers but also glass and feedstock producers). The opportunities for Sino- European collaborative research in PV were highlighted, and the preliminary timetable for FP7 was presented by David Anderson from the Unit. The workshop produced many stimulating and constructive exchanges between the Chinese and European participants about the research priorities and state of the art in both regions.

VISION FOR A EUROPEAN ENERGY STRATEGY

The first ideas for a common European Energy Policy have been set out by the European Commission in a recent Green Paper, which invites comments on over 20 suggestions for possible new actions. The Commissioner for Energy, Andris Piebalgs, said, “The completion of the internal market, the fight against climate change, and security of supply are common energy challenges that call for common solutions. It is time for a new European energy policy.” The Green Paper identifies the following six priority areas:
  • Completing the internal energy market
  • Increasing the security of supply at European level
  • Developing a sustainable, efficient and diverse energy mix
  • Introducing measures to address global warming (e.g. energy efficiency)
  • Supporting European competitiveness with a strategic energy technology plan
  • Developing a common external energy policy.

The Green Paper cites EU leadership in many renewable energy technologies, and recognises the role of energy research in increasing efficiency and energy diversity. The development of a strategic energy technology plan is proposed to strengthen European energy research, focusing on target driven research and a more strategic approach to financing.

Based on responses to the public consultation, as well as the conclusions of the European Council and Parliament, the Commission will propose a comprehensive series of concrete measures.

FP7 Update

The agreement reached on the Financial Perspectives of the EU Budget for the period 2007 to 2013 at the climax of the UK Presidency in December 2005, together with the subsequent agreement between the European Parliament and the Council, have allowed further progress to be made on the Commission’s proposal for FP7. The seven-year budget for FP7 will be in the order of 54 B€, which represents a significant increase in the average annual budget compared to FP6. The period between now and the end of the year will be taken up with intensive activities as the FP7 proposal goes through the co-decision process between the Council and the European Parliament, and the details of the Work Programme are fleshed out. A significant step was taken on 13 March 2006 when the Council reached a political agreement in principle on the four specific programmes of FP7: Capacities, Ideas, People and Co-operation. The first reading on FP7 in the European Parliament is expected to take place on 4 May 2006. It is hoped that the first calls for proposals might be published towards the end of 2006 or early in 2007, with deadlines in spring 2007. The FP7 Launch Conference will take place in Brussels on 7 March 2007.

The Commission's proposal for the Seventh Framework Programme is designed to help realise the renewed Lisbon objectives of building the knowledge society, and promoting growth and creating jobs through knowledge and innovation. Europe has to concentrate its efforts on its true strengths if it is to face the mounting global competition in a sustainable way. With its content, organisation, implementation modes and management tools, FP7 is designed as a key contribution to the re-launched Lisbon strategy. Even if the continuation is the main feature of FP7, there are important new elements which include the following: emphasis on research themes rather than on ‘instruments’; significant simplification; focus on developing research that meets the needs of European industry through the work of Technology Platforms and the new Joint Technology Initiatives; establishment of a European Research Council funding the best of European science; integration of international co-operation in all four programmes; development of Regions of Knowledge; and a Risk-Sharing Finance Facility aimed at fostering private investment in research.

As for energy research, the pressing challenges to be met are security of supply, climate change and competitiveness. The long-term goal is a transformation of the current fossil fuel-based energy system into a more sustainable one that is based on a diverse portfolio of energy sources combined with enhanced energy efficiency. Renewable energy technologies are key to a better environment and increased security of supply, and appear in three of the nine activities proposed for FP7 under the theme of energy: renewable electricity generation, renewable fuel production, and renewables for heating and cooling. It is proposed to fund projects under these three RES activities alongside other projects on energy efficiency and savings, CO2 capture and storage technologies for zero emission power generation, clean coal technologies, hydrogen and fuel cells, smart energy networks, and knowledge for energy policy-making.

To help define the work programme for FP7 and the topics for the first calls, it is planned to consult stakeholders in various ways to allow concerned parties to express ideas for research priorities within the different themes. In particular, the technology platforms will be consulted.

Further details can be found on the CORDIS website at the following address

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