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Governments approve EU strategic energy research plan

The European Commission's plan to boost EU research into low carbon energy sources has been endorsed by member states. At an Energy Council meeting in Brussels, ministers from the 27 EU countries approved the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) plan proposed by the Commission in November. The Commission explains that EU energy research is often under-funded, dispersed and badly co-ordinated. It claims its plan will establish a better organised energy research agenda for Europe to lower the costs of clean energy, speed delivery of low carbon technologies and put Europe at the forefront of the sustainable technology sector. International co-operation will be fundamental. The plan will focus on technologies to meet the challenge of Europe's 2020 climate change and energy targets, and on next generation technologies to meet its 2050 vision of a 60-80% cut in greenhouse gases. Under the plan, the Commission will be launching six "European industrial initiatives" this year. These include a wind initiative focusing on development of large wind turbines with the aim of doubling the power generation capacity of the largest machines -- particularly for offshore use. An electricity grid initiative aims to implement a research program for the European network and to develop a smart electricity system, including storage, to allow for massive integration of renewables. "The challenges of climate change, security of supply and competitiveness will only be met if the right technologies are available in good time," says Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs. "The Commission will substantially increase its financial support for research in new energy technologies. I encourage member states and industry to follow this path."

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