R&D investment essential for continued EU leadership, says wind energy sector
The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) today launched a Strategic Research Agenda for the wind energy sector "Prioritising Wind Energy Research". The report lays out the fundamental tasks facing the sector and calls for increased, consistent and above all transparent funding for wind energy research under the 7th Framework Programme (FP7), to run from 2007-2013 and currently under preparation.
The structure of the programme also needs urgent attention. In the interests of transparency, a specific budget line for renewable energy R&D, including a chapter for wind energy, must be established. Under FP6, renewables are included in a so-called “Sustainable Energy” budget line, which also embraces technologies not defined as renewable in the Renewable Electricity Directive, such as “clean” coal, CO₂ sequestration, and hydrogen - which is only as clean as the technology used to produce it.
“A separate budget line for genuinely renewable technologies is a must”, said Corin Millais. “The relatively small pot of funds dedicated to renewable energy must not be encroached upon by conventional technologies, which receive very significant funding already.”
Failure to increase wind energy R&D funding under FP7 will endanger European research and industrial leadership in one of the world’s most promising technologies. In 2004, European companies had a market share of 80% of the €8 billion market for wind turbines.
The International Energy Agency estimates that some 40% of wind energy technology cost reductions can be attributed to R&D. Cost reductions of 30 - 50% more are necessary if wind energy is going to supply 12% of the world’s electricity needs by 2020.
“Support for wind energy R&D under the current EU research programme - FP6 - has been severely restricted,” said EWEA CEO Corin Millais, “and at present amounts to only €24 million, compared to €70 million under FP5.”
In comparison, under Euratom and FP5 respectively, nuclear energy research received approximately eighteen times (€1,260 million) more than wind energy, and conventional technologies more than three times more.
To secure sufficient R&D funding, the establishment of a European Technology Platform for Wind Energy is essential. Technology platforms are a new mechanism intended to channel EU and Member State R&D investments to sectors in which EU has competitive advantages.
At the end of September the European Parliament adopted a report calling for the implementation of such a platform for wind energy. Just a few days later in early October, an international forum of over 60 MEPs and National MPs reiterated this call.
Meanwhile, European Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs on 14th October published his intention to argue for “appropriate funding” for wind power and other technologies : “We should also boost research on wind, wave and solar, small-hydro, hydrogen (in particular with respect to transport) and on clean coal and carbon sequestration, and I shall be arguing for appropriate funding of this in the 7th Framework Programme”, the Commissioner told participants at the Amsterdam Sustainable Energy Forum in Amsterdam.”
European Parliament Rapporteur Jerzy Buzek, will present his report on the Commission’s proposal for FP7 in January 2006. This will be an opportunity to stress the urgent need for further research investment in wind energy R&D.
“The wind energy sector calls upon the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission to support and facilitate the establishment of a Technology Platform for Wind Energy under FP7 to ensure that EU research and industrial leadership in wind power
technology is maintained”, said Mr. Millais.