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EU to promote research on clean energy

The European Commission on Thursday proposed a plan to promote research that will liberate the European Union’s potential for clean energy.

The commission proposed to align EU, national and industrial research activities so that value can be added. It also proposed the creation of a European energy research alliance to ensure much greater cooperation among energy research organizations as well as improved planning and foresight at European level for energy infrastructure and systems. The commission clearly signaled the need for increased funding, and will present its ideas on financing low-carbon technologies during 2008.

It will set up an information system to ensure a clear picture of energy technologies across Europe and establish a process with member states so that energy technology research can be planned together. A European energy technology summit will be called in 2009 to review progress. “The energy policy for Europe calls for a new industrial revolution. Like all industrial revolutions, this one is going to be technology-driven and it is high time to transform our political vision into concrete actions,” said EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs. Janez Potocnik, EU commissioner for science and research said, “The ideas that the Commission is putting forward today will allow Europe to develop a world class portfolio of affordable, clean, efficient and low emission energy technologies.”

Research and innovation in energy technology are vital in meeting the EU’s ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60% to 80% by 2050, said the commission, the executive body of the EU. Unless there is a major change in the EU’s approach to such technologies, there is a serious risk that these objectives will not be met, or the technology to do so will come from outside the EU, it warned. The energy innovation process, from initial conception to market penetration, suffers from structural weaknesses. There is neither a natural market appetite nor a readily discernible short-term business benefit for such technologies. In addition, public energy research budgets in the EU member states have generally declined substantially since the 1980s, said the commission. (