Research and innovation are key pillars of the EU’s energy policy, specifically since low-carbon technologies like wind power, nuclear fusion and carbon capture and energy storage are essential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to improve the sustainability of the energy system.
The uptake of new energy technologies can also decrease reliance on external suppliers of fossil fuels, as well as spur job creation and economic growth, in so doing delivering on several of the objectives in the energy union strategy.
Energy storage is a key enabler of the low-carbon transition, and it addresses several of the central principles of the Clean energy for all Europeans package. By allowing excess electricity and gas to be saved for periods of higher demand, energy storage can significantly help to decarbonise sectors like transport, industry and heating.
Batteries and hydrogen represent the main forms of energy storage, and are amongst the most advanced low-carbon technologies.
The fourth state of the energy union report, published in April 2019, took stock of progress achieved regarding the implementation of the key actions of the Strategic Action Plan on Batteries, adopted in May 2018.
Strategic Energy Technology Plan
The European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan) was set up to develop low-carbon technologies and make them economically viable. It aims to accelerate the uptake of new technologies such as next-generation wind turbines and bioenergy by reducing their costs and increasing efficiency. The SET -Plan includes the SET- Plan Steering Group, European Industrial Initiatives, the European Energy Research Alliance, and the SET -Plan Information System (SETIS).
ITER and fusion energy
Nuclear fusion is currently in an experimental phase. It produces energy by fusing light atoms such as hydrogen at extremely elevated pressures and high temperatures. The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is an experimental fusion reactor in the south of France aiming to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion as a viable source of energy.
Energy and smart cities
EU's energy union strategy places local communities and municipalities at the heart of the energy transition and help them tackle energy and climate-related challenges through initiatives such as the smart cities policy and the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, gathering more than 8800 cities, representing over 230 million Europeans.