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Renewables priority in EU fifth framework RFP

Pressure from the European parliament has forced a redistribution of the energy budget for 1999 under the EU's new Fifth Framework Program (FP5) for research and development (R&D). Renewables, considered a "priority sector" in the FP5, are to get fully 60% of the EUR 207 million allocated for energy R&D outside of the huge Euratom nuclear program, which continues separately. Under FP4 the non-nuclear budget split was tipped in the opposite direction, with nearly 60% going to conventional energy and about 45% to renewables.

The 60% amounts to ยค124.7 million for 1999, Enzo Millich of DG XVII, the EC's energy directorate, told the European Wind Energy Conference and Exhibition in Nice last month (page 38). The first call for proposals was issued March 20, with a tight deadline for submission of proposals set for June 15. Among the call's priorities are large scale generation with reduced CO2 emissions from coal, biomass or other fuels; development and demonstration of new and renewable energy sources for decentralised generation -- in particular biomass, fuel cell, wind and solar; and the integration of new and renewable energies into power systems.

In the case of renewables, evaluators will be scrutinising proposals for their contribution to helping the EC meet its environmental targets, for cost savings and for improved reliability. Cross border collaboration will also be even more important than in the past. The EC will shoulder up to 50% of the costs of R&D projects, while for demonstration projects the EC's share of the eligible costs has decreased to 35% from 40% under previous Thermie energy support programs.

Because of the "spectacular success" of the development and promotion of renewables under the Joule (R&D) and Thermie programs in FP4, new sources of funding have been made available, Millich said. Structural funds set aside for regional development, for example, are now available for renewable energy.

In addition to Joule and Thermie, and following the recommendation of the EC's White (policy) Paper on renewables, a new "take-off campaign" for renewable energy has been launched, with EUR 170 million set aside for promotion for four years, along with a target for 10,000 MW of wind in Europe by 2003. This dramatically increases the EC's former target for wind of 8000 MW by 2005, set in the Altener program for promotion of renewables. "On the basis of the information I've seen here today, there's no doubt that we can reach that goal," Millich told conference delegates.

He stressed the campaign has the support of all three bodies of the EU government -- the Council, the Commission and parliament -- and "concrete steps" have been taken by all three. The main goal of the campaign is to highlight the various investment opportunities that exist for renewable energy and attract the necessary private capital.

Demonstration

Of FP5's total tentative budget of EUR 14,960 billion, EUR 1042 billion has been allotted to energy research over the next four years. For this first year, EUR 207 million has been taken out of the total pool, leaving EUR 755.5 million for the 2000-2002 period.

Of renewables' share, the split between R&D and demonstration has also changed, with spending on demonstration now higher than on generic research. Demonstration gets 75% of the EUR 124.7 million allotted, amounting to EUR 93.5 million, with 25%, EUR 31.2 million, going to R&D. This year's decrease of the R&D amount is "quite normal," Millich said. "The European parliament and commission expect that what has been developed under the Fourth Framework program is now ready and mature for demonstration."

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