New report into coal and steel research published
Brussels, 24 September 2013
Coal and steel research funded since the expiry of the European Coal and Steel Community treaty has continued to produce benefits for industry, according to an evaluation report published today.
The ECSC treaty expired in 2002 but its financial assets, built up over 50 years, were transferred to a fund, the Research Fund for Coal and Steel (RFCS), to finance research and innovation projects relevant to the two sectors.
Independent experts from the coal and steel sectors considered projects funded by RFCS between 2003 and 2010, analysing in depth 23 projects where quantifiable commercial benefits were assessed.
The main benefits reported by the beneficiaries of the RFCS projects were cost reductions, increased productivity, energy saving, new applications, new solutions and new market share. The cumulative quantified benefit they declared amounted to about €100 million/year for RFCS funding of about €30 million. This corresponds to a reported leverage effect of 3.3 each year.
The experts then estimated what the overall commercial return of RFCS funding would be if the same impact achieved in the 23 projects, analysed in detail, were extended across the entire European coal and steel sectors. The result: an estimated overall commercial return close to €700 million per year compared with average annual RFCS funding of €55 million.
The EU is still the second largest producer of steel in the world, employing over 360 000 people, with an output of over 177 million tonnes a year, accounting for 11% of global output. It remains a world leader in the design and production of high added-value grades, but Europe's producers are facing increasingly fierce global competition. Research is therefore essential for EU industry to remain competitive.
EU-funded research on steel addresses: the steel production process with a view to enhancing product quality and increasing productivity; the reduction of emissions, energy consumption and environmental impact of steel production; the utilisation of steel to meet the future requirements of steel users and to create new market opportunities; the conservation of resources as well as the preservation of the ecosystem; and safety issues.
Coal is both a key ingredient in steel production, and is needed as a source of energy to ensure Europe has a secure supply. Forty percent of world electricity generation derives from coal and coal remains the main energy source for some EU countries (93% of Polish electricity is produced from coal).
Research projects encompass the entire coal production chain and aim to optimize the coal mining production, improve coal preparation techniques and develop clean combustion processes. Moreover health and safety issues in mines as well as climate change issues are addressed.
The RFCS is managed by the European Commission but has its own legal basis and is managed separately from the European Union research framework programmes. Roughly three out of every four funded projects are in the steel sector.
The RFCS assessment exercise was carried out by 10 experts via exchanges with participants in the RFCS, site visits, direct interviews with project coordinators and main partners and with the help of a comprehensive questionnaire.
For more info:
Inmaculada Martinez Garcia Tel. +32 229 873 03