European renewable energy industry associations call for the European Commission to acknowledge the European Parliament's (EP)decision to prioritise research in renewable energy. The Commission has ignored the EP's decision to strengthen the research budget for renewables and energy efficiency.
On 15 June, at its plenary meeting, the European Parliament voted to dedicate two thirds of the non-nuclear energy research budget under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7) to renewable energy sources and energy efficiency. The move came following recognition of neglect of renewable research investments in recent years.
The European Commission appears to see things differently, however, and has decided to ignore the democratic decision of the Parliament in its amended proposal for the programme.
"We are hearing many fine words about the importance of renewables and energy efficiency. Now that decision time has arrived, there is silence. We do not understand the position of the European Commission and its priorities for research over the next seven years" said Christian Kjaer, Chief Executive of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). "Last month, the European Parliament expressed the will of European citizens to reverse decades of unbalanced focus on fossil fuel energy research. Europe has the opportunity to move closer to an energy future based on known and predictable costs, derived from clean and indigenous energy sources free of all the security, political, economic and environmental disadvantages associated with the current energy supply structure."
The Parliament agreed that non-nuclear energy research should total €2.4 billion over the seven years of the programme (2007 - 2013). Over the next five years, the average annual research budget for energy would then be as follow:
Total Energy research: €920 million
Nuclear energy research: €580 million (63%)
Non-nuclear energy research: €340 million (37%), of which:
2/3 to renewables and energy efficiency: €226 million (25%)
Greater research investment would help renewable technology's contribution to the Lisbon Strategy. A strong research base is essential for Europe to keep her global leadership in the renewables market. It would stimulate private industry to get more deeply involved, and to collaborate more closely with the public sector.
Strong research investment in renewable energy technologies and efficiency measures would also be a concrete answer from European decision-makers to the current concerns about security of supply and climate change. The associations of the Renewable Energy House can not understand why the European Commission has passed up such a golden opportunity to turn its often articulated support for renewables into action: "It is our hope that the Member States, at the next Competitiveness Council on Monday 24 July, will back the European Parliament in its call for sufficient research investment in renewables."