xEuropean wind energy research should focus on reducing risks associated with upscaling wind turbines and wind farms for large scale deployment both on land and offshore, say European renewable energy lobbyists. "With sufficient support for R&D, by 2010 wind turbines in the range of 8-10 MW may be developed and individual wind power stations could measure in the gigawatt scale," they say.
xUnder the umbrellas of the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) and the European Renewable Energy Centres Agency (EUREC), key figures from the renewables industry and research community have set out their research priorities for funding under the EU's seventh Framework Program (FP7) for research and development (R&D). They are calling for an annual EUR 250 million budget under FP7. The money is needed to sustain double-digit growth rates and maintain Europe's competitiveness in the face of stiff international competition, the lobbyists argue.
xThe sector is concerned about the alarming decline in research funding directed towards renewables over recent years. Under the current program, FP6, funding to wind has been severely restricted -- particularly for long term R&D, which is limited to just one large scale project with a budget of EUR 10-15 million.
xEREC points out that over the past 15 years the renewables industry's turnover expanded tenfold from EUR 1.5 billion in 1990 to EUR 15 billion in 2004. It has created over 200,000 jobs in the process and made a significant contribution to security of energy supply and reducing greenhouse gases. "We can already see that renewables can deliver," says EREC president Arthouros Zervos. "But if this beneficial development is to continue, renewable energy requires a stable, predictable supportive political and legal framework coupled with continuous public and private investment in R&D."
xFrom the EU research Commission, Matjaz Malgaj reports that the Commissioner, Janez Potocnik, wants to reverse the trend of declining funds to complementary energy, especially renewables. This month the Commission is expected to publish its proposals for FP7, which will probably run up to 2010. This follows a consultation in 2004 on future research policy. Both the Commission and the European parliament want to see a higher budget for research under FP7. The parliament is calling for it to be doubled to around EUR 30 billion for the four year life span of the program.