The EU Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan: From concept to practice

Creating a global economy that emits a fraction of its current greenhouse gas emissions will not only require wholesale changes in the ways economies are structured, but more importantly a new and unprecedented innovation drive in the EU and beyond. This is especially true for the energy sector, which is responsible for up to 80% of total GHG emissions. There is consensus now that economic growth, welfare and competitiveness of the EU will depend on the EU’ success in developing, deploying and competing in new low-carbon technologies. As a result, the EU has launched a research and development strategy targeting the energy sector, the SET-Plan.

The idea of using EU funding (e.g. the EU budget or the EIB) to contribute significantly to R&D in Europe is rather novel. Research and Development as a public policy for promoting growth at European level has not been a major issue prior to the so-called Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs in 2000. Additional momentum has gradually been building in the context of the global climate change negotiations, where technology has moved up to the top of the agenda. Technology is generally seen as the key for future global competitiveness.

This shifting position of R&D at EU level is allowing the rather modest R&D budget to increase in size and relevance. There is no doubt that the SET-Plan presents an ambitious and integrated approach to research and development with a focus on transformation of results into actual demonstration technologies and later into commercial products. Nevertheless, to date the SET-Plan presents mainly a set of ambitions with a significant list of unresolved issues and inherent weaknesses, on which this Task Force will need to focus. Among possible themes are

• Sources of finance,
• Streamlining rules on financial management,
• Patent and licensing issues,
• Governance,
• Synergy with other policies.

Chair:
Lars-Erik Liljelund, CEO of the Swedish MISTRA Foundation and former the Swedish PM’s Special Envoy on climate change.

Rapporteurs:
Christian Egenhofer, CEPS Senior Research Fellow
Jorge Núñez-Ferrer, CEPS Associate Research Fellow
Monica Alessi, CEPS Research Fellow & Programme Manager.

Meetings:
1st Meeting: 19 November 2010 (agenda)
2nd meeting: 14 December 2010 (agenda)
3rd meeting: 10 February 2011   
4th meeting: 14 March 2011   
Task Force report published, please download or purchase here.

Prospectus of the Task Force (including Registration Form) 

Presentations 1st meeting (19 November 2010):

SET Plan - Marie Donnelly, Director for new and renewable sources of energy, energy efficiency and innovation DG Energy, European Commission 
The Risk-Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF) - Martin Koch, Policy Officer, EIB
Financing energy innovation for a low carbon future - Karsten Krause, Unit ‘Low Carbon Technologies’, DG Climate Action, European Commission
EU SET Plan. A View from Industry - Xanthe Visram, ERT Energy and Climate Change

Presentations 2nd meeting (14 December 2010):
European programmes for R&D and innovation - Jan van den Biesen, Philips.
Relevance of the SET-plan for Denmark - Eric Björklund, Danish Energy Agency
ERT Recommendations - Sorell

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