The Research Fund for Coal and Steel (RFCS) programme supports the competitiveness of the coal and steel sectors by co-financing industrial research projects.
EU funding in 2010
The programme was created in 2003, following the expiry in 2002 of the 50-year old European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) Treaty, which initiated the process of European integration. The annual budget of €55-60 million comes from interest paid on ECSC residual assets. This budget is split between coal (27.2%) and steel (72.8%) and is managed separately from the EU R&D framework programmes.
As a solid fossil fuel, coal's main applications are in electricity generation, steel production and cement manufacturing. It will remain a key element of Europe's energy security. With 40% of world electricity production derived from coal, it will continue to play a pre-eminent role in a balanced energy mix for Europe. Coal is still abundant and, unlike oil, amply available in large quantities across the world in a variety of politically stable countries. Consequently, clean coal technologies, including carbon capture and storage for existing and future coal-fired electricity plants and increased efficiency and reduction of CO2 emissions throughout the entire coal extraction and processing cycle, are essential if it is to become a sustainable energy source.