The Research Fund for Coal and Steel (RFCS) supports innovative research on coal and steel technologies. The RFCS was created in 2002 - on expiry of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) Treaty. Yearly interest on the assets of the ECSC, some €55m/year, is used to fund the research. While complementary to the EU's 7th Framework Programme, RFCS is managed outside of it and is, from a financial point of view, a unique concept. Steel production and coal extraction (and its entire product cycle) are key technology areas for the continuous sustainable economic development of Europe.
A world leader in the steel industry, notably in the design and production of high added-value grades of steel, the European steel industry is facing increasingly fierce competition from external producers.
Advanced research is essential for European industry to remain competitive. As the world continues to rely on steel in the years to come in ever larger quantities, advanced sustainable and cleaner production techniques must clearly be developed and implemented. Europe stands a unique chance to lead worldwide in this domain.
Coal is both a key ingredient in steel production, and is needed as a source of energy to ensure Europe has a secure supply. 40% of world electricity generation derives from coal. Coal remains the main energy source for some EU countries (93% of Polish electricity is produced from coal). There is no doubt that this resource finds a preeminent role in a balanced energy mix for Europe. Consequently, Europe must develop critical clean coal technologies, namely carbon sequestration technology for existing and future coal-fired plants for electricity production, and increased efficiency and reduction / capture of CO2 emissions in the entire extraction and processing cycle.
The long-term strategy of the RFCS is based on priorities identified by:
Research priorities may be updated annually, on the basis of recommendations from these platforms.