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ANOTHER BITE AT THE BUDGET, EC SCANDAL

A special call for proposals under the European Union's Joule programme for non nuclear R&D is to be made on January 15. The new call is restricted to wind energy, photovoltaics and biomass, "energy forms which were not sufficiently accounted for in the first call for proposals," confirms the Jülich Research Institute, which administers the programme in Germany. Official notification of the new call was expected to be made by the European Commission (EC) later last month.

The new call comes after months of fierce controversy over the allocation of the first round of Joule funding under the EC's non nuclear R&D programme for 1994-1998. The EC's research directorate, DG XII, is accused of using an incorrect procedure for selecting projects for funding, with the result that renewable energy technologies, including wind, lost out to other sectors, such as fossil fuels (Windpower Monthly, December 1995). Two internal investigations into the accusations -- one by the EC's fraud unit -- are to report in soon.

Meantime renewables are to get another bite at the budget. The new call for proposals has been granted ECU 25-30 million (more than making up for the previous shortfall) and applications must be submitted by May 14. Wind energy proposals should focus on "newly developed design principles and machine-oriented components [electric generators, blades, and so on] for improved performance and cost of smaller wind turbines; flexibility of design [design which can be fine tuned for local wind conditions, turbulence, and different grid requirements]."

Photovoltaics is expected to take around 50% of the budget with wind and biomass sharing the remainder. The formal conditions of the tender will be the same as for the last round. Jülich adds that unsuccessful applicants in the first round will be informed about the status of their applications. This will enable them to consider whether to reapply with the same project. The EC, explaining its departure from official procedure in selecting projects in the last round, claimed there were too few good quality renewables projects to use the full funding allocation, a claim hotly disputed.

¥ The EC's Directorate General for Energy, DG XVII, has asked us to point out that a reference to the Thermie budget still being undecided (Windpower Monthly, December 1995) has nothing to do with the programme now being administered jointly under the name "Joule-Thermie" or "Non-Nuclear Energy." The reference did not intend to imply that this was the case, but was an allusion to "Thermie II," which is still in limbo. The European Parliament and all but two member countries (Germany and the UK) wish for an additional Thermie II budget to enable a continuation of the "dissemination" or "replication" part of the programme, considered vital by EC officials for encouraging the spread of new energy technologies between member countries. This role was taken away from Thermie when it was linked to Joule under an R&D regime, instead of solely under an energy technology regime. Furthermore, the same article contained an error. ECU 25.8 million has been allocated to "Type B" Thermie proposals and not ECU 136.6 million, which is the total budget for both "Type A" and "Type B" proposals. We regret any confusion caused.

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