An amendment to the Seventh Framework Programme as proposed by the European Council will ensure that €1.6bn out of the €2.4bn energy R&D funding goes to clean energies and minimising energy use.

The initial European Council proposal did not allocate the funding to any particular energy source, but was amended after pressure from a coalition of pro-renewables MEPs.

Following the vote, the EU Parliament said in a statement:

“Regarding the energy part (which Parliament wants to allocate with a budget of €2415m), members want that approximately two thirds of the budget go towards research conducted under the three renewable energy activities and energy efficiency and savings.”

These “activities” include renewable electricity generation with the focus on photovoltaics, wind and biomass, renewable – mainly biofuel – production, and the use of renewables for heating and cooling.

The EU energy research programme aims to “transform the current fossil-fuel based energy system into a more sustainable one based on a wide portfolio of energy sources and carriers combined with enhanced energy efficiency.” Its other elements include hydrogen and fuel cells, carbon capture and storage, clean coal technologies and energy efficiency.

Before it can come into force, the amended budget must be approved by member states at the next Competitiveness Council.

Renewable industry and environmental groups welcomed Parliament’s decision.

Christian Kjaar, chief executive of the European Wind Energy Association, said in a statement: “The European Parliament’s vote reverses decades of unbalanced focus on fossil fuel energy research.”

“In an era of energy uncertainty and a climate disaster waiting to happen, the European Parliament has made a bold statement – that renewables are a vital part of Europe’s future technology mix. For the wind industry, the decision will contribute to further progress of the technology and reduced cost, while maintaining Europe’s leading position in the global market,” he said.

Research is a major factor in reducing the cost of renewables, according to the EWEA – a report from the International Energy Agency has shown that it achieved about 40% of the reduction in wind energy costs over the last twenty years.

Environmental campaign group Greenpeace also welcomed the funding boost, calling the vote a “goal in favour of the environment, competitiveness and innovation.”

But Greenpeace criticised Euro MPs for “waving through” €4bn in nuclear energy funding for the same seven-year period under the same research funding package – almost three times as much as the renewables research funding.

Goska Romanowicz

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