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New actions to boost research and innovation for the clean-energy transition

Brussels, 30 November 2016

The European Commission is today proposing new wide-reaching measures to accelerate Europe's transition to a competitive low-carbon economy by improving the regulatory and business environment and boosting investment in clean-energy research and innovation (R&I).

Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "Europe needs research and innovation to become a carbon-neutral society by 2050. We have no time to waste. We need concerted action both in Europe and globally, across a broad range of sectors, to mobilise public and private investment in breakthrough technologies for our common good. And now we have a bold strategy to achieve these goals."

The Communication on Accelerating the Clean-Energy Innovation adopted today is a key component of a bigger package of initiatives adopted today by the Commission for accelerating the completion of the Energy Union. Research and innovation are one of the pillars of the Energy Union.

The strategy recognises that meeting the EU’s objectives for the clean-energy transition requires mobilisation at all levels: the private sector, national and regional authorities as well as universities and the research community. The growing role of cities and of individual choices by consumers is also highlighted.

The starting point is therefore policy and regulatory reforms. Planned actions include measures to reinforce transparency on subsidies and their effect on innovation and aligning future annual Union work programmes on European standardisation with Energy Union priorities, such as decarbonisation of the economy and supporting green public procurement. The Commission will also support the market uptake of innovative clean energy solutions through public procurement, including through the revision of the Clean Vehicles Directive. The integration of smart, cutting-edge digital technologies into all aspects of the energy system will be implemented in order to remain at the forefront of providing affordable consumer-centric energy products and services.

Key R&I actions are proposed in four areas, selected for their potential to fast-track the development and market-introduction of breakthrough technologies: decarbonising Europe's building stock, strengthening the EU's leadership in renewable energy (RES), integrated and affordable energy storage solutions, and electro-mobility. Over €2 billion will be earmarked in support of these priorities during the last three years of Horizon 2020, the EU's R&I funding programme until 2020. Additional financing will be available through the European Innovation Council and by deepening synergies with the European Structural and Investment Funds.

The Commission will work with the European Investment Bank (EIB) to boost private investment in innovative technologies, for example, by at least doubling the budget of the InnovFin Energy Demonstration Project scheme to more than €300 million and expanding its scope, and by setting-up a Clean Transport Facility. Furthermore, the Commission will actively support developing a project pipeline of innovative clean energy projects and bring them to the attention of investors.

Today's proposal aims to better involve citizens in the energy transition. A new €5 to €10 million flagship Energy Innovation Inducement Prize will be launched to reward breakthrough solutions to technological challenges in the four key areas. This new prize will build on the experience of current Horizon prizes.

The Commission will now work with the Member States, industry and the research community to help push breakthrough technologies and boost regional and international cooperation as well as Europe's share in world markets.

Background

The strategy announced today builds on the progress achieved so far under of the Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan). It focuses on those low-carbon solutions that have the highest innovation potential for delivering cost reductions and improving performance quickly.

In addition, the Strategic Transport Research and Innovation Agenda (STRIA) will contribute to the decarbonisation of this sector with expert roadmaps by January 2017 for exploiting synergies with energy and digital technologies.

The Commission's “Clean Energy for All Europeans” proposals are designed to show that the clean energy transition is the growth sector of the future. The measures cover energy efficiency, renewable energy, the design of the electricity market, security of electricity supply and governance rules for the Energy Union. In addition the Commission proposes a new way forward for Ecodesign as well as a strategy for connected and automated mobility.