Huge increase in research spending

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At least half of the European Union's EUR 2.35 billion budget for non-nuclear energy research over the next seven years is to go to renewable energy and energy efficiency. The budget is part of the EU's huge EUR 54 billion Seventh Framework Research program (FP7), which starts this month and runs to 2013. It was rubber stamped by European heads of government after the European Parliament's approval of the seven year package at its second reading on November 30. The allocation to renewables was the result of a compromise between the European Parliament and national governments.

The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) describes the result of the negotiations as "very positive." It means at least EUR 1175 million will go to renewables and energy efficiency under FP7, a 40% increase in real terms on the average annual spending on these technologies under the previous program.

"This decision strongly expresses the will to reverse decades of unbalanced European focus on fossil fuel energy research. This funding represents an increase of approximately 40% compared to the previous framework program and will without doubt help in reducing the cost of wind energy," says EWEA's Christian Kjaer.

FP7 aims to create a European Research Area -- effectively a common market for research -- with the long term goal of Europe becoming the world's leading research centre. Cross border collaboration is all important; only projects involving partners from different countries will be funded.

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