Parliament votes to divert nuclear funds to renewables

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In an attempt to end years of declining pan-European support for renewable energy research, the European parliament has voted in favour of dedicating two-thirds of the non-nuclear energy research budget -- worth EUR 2.385 billion -- to renewable energy and energy efficiency under the EU's seventh Framework Programme (FP7). If the vote is endorsed by member states at the next Competitiveness Council, it would mean some EUR 1.6 billion going to the sector throughout the FP7 program, which runs from 2007 to 2013. This is EUR 450 million more for renewables than the Commission proposed. Even so, over the same period, some EUR 4 billion will be spent on nuclear energy under a separate Euratom research budget. "The European parliament's vote reverses decades of unbalanced focus on fossil fuel energy research," says the EWEA's Christian Kjaer. "Europe is moving closer to a European energy future based on known and predictable cost of energy, derived from clean and indigenous energy sources free of all the security, political, economic and environmental disadvantages associated with the current energy supply structure." EWEA expects the decision to result in further technology progress and reduced cost. The International Energy Agency estimates that research has led to a 40% reduction in the cost of wind energy over the last 20 years.

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