Renewables upgraded in new call for proposals

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Large scale integration of renewables throughout the European Union is to be a priority of the EU's 4th Framework Programme. In the meantime, to breach the gap between the 3rd and 4th programmes, proposals are being requested for two-year renewables projects which will lay the groundwork for future action. A budget of about ECU 25 million is available for this mini-programme, code-named APAS.

Five areas of application have been defined, with wind energy falling within the first two: integration of renewable energies in regions and water desalination for Mediterranean countries. The three other areas are bio-electricity, maximising the use of renewables in urban planning, and photovoltaics in co-operation with developing countries. Proposals must reach the European Commission by close of business on June 17 and be innovative, original and not yet at the stage of being competitive.

APAS aims to make a realistic appraisal of the short, medium and long term potential of renewables and their appropriate share of an integrated market. Studies and pilot projects to provide data for this appraisal are being sought, particularly those which can highlight new opportunities for economic stimulation, regional development, innovation in agriculture, new industrial activity and job creation. APAS will also look at the "adaptation of the energy market and its structure" to allow for the integration of renewables.

"The further development of renewable energies must be placed in a strategic framework along a wide chain of activities, from R&D to demonstration towards market development," states the Commission's Directorate General XII for Science, Research and Development which will administrate APAS. "This action is an opportunity to identify avenues for the successful integration of renewable energies to be pursued in the 4th Framework Programme."

As examples of the kind of studies it will support, DG XII lists strategy development, assessment of resources, investigation of political, financial, institutional, economic and social boundaries and benefits, and the impact of renewables on conventional energy systems. It is also willing to finance pilot schemes for implementation and detailed monitoring of existing projects.

The Commission stresses the need for pan-European co-operation for the creation of networks of expertise within industry and research. These networks will lay the "technological, economic and social basis for the emerging renewable energies markets." APAS is prepared to pay 100% of the costs of concerted efforts to achieve cross-border information exchange, including the cost of travel, meetings and publications.

Integration of renewables in regions, the first of the five areas of application defined by APAS, specifically requires that local authorities be involved in proposals submitted under this category and stresses the need to get all players to work together, including industry, research centres, utilities, and planners. The social aspects of integrating renewables are a priority topic for attention under APAS.

Wind power is specifically mentioned in the de-salination category, where each proposal must include an industrial sponsor. "Emphasis will be on the combination of wind energy with reverse osmosis technology," states APAS. North African countries and the near East are included in the scope of the programme.

As has become the norm with EU programmes of this nature proposals must be sponsored by organisations or companies based in at least two member countries and will normally be supported by up to 50% of their eligible costs. Research bodies should also team up with an industrial partner. Contracts will be signed by the end of this year and first reports to the Commission are expected before the end of 1995. Although large comprehensive projects will have preference over small ones, a limited number of smaller exploratory projects will be considered if they are to investigate the pre-feasibility of large projects.

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