Thursday, July 11, 2013

€22 billion EC R&D package to support low carbon industries

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, said that the partnerships will underpin growth and jobs in key sectors of a knowledge-based European economy.
The European Commission has announced a €22 billion Innovation Investment Package for sectors including fuel cells and hydrogen, biofuels and cleaner, quieter aircraft.

In total, more than half of the money will go to low carbon industries.

The programme intends that over the next seven years, the EU's contribution of €8 billion will mobilise €10 billion from the private sector and close to €4 billion from Member States.

It will be accomplished through the establishment of a series of public-private partnerships under the

These are in form of Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs) between the EU and industry to provide vital funding for large-scale, longer-term and high risk/reward research.

They set out commitments, including financial commitments, and address strategic technologies that will underpin growth and jobs in key sectors of a knowledge-based European economy. Over four million Europeans are currently employed in these sectors.

The initiative will help make Europe a more attractive location for international companies to invest and innovation and contribute to meeting many EU objectives, including 3% of GDP invested in R&D and 20% of GDP coming from manufacturing by 2020.

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, said at a press conference that many of the EU's competitors are investing faster and they are thinking big. "There need to bolster both public and private spending if we are to stay in, never mind ahead of the game," she said.

Most of the investment will come through five JTIs:
  1. Clean Sky 2 (CS2): to develop cleaner, quieter aircraft with significantly less CO2 emissions;

  2. Innovative Medicines 2 (IMI2): to develop next generation vaccines, medicines and treatments, such as new antibiotics;

  3. Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 (FCH2): to expand the use of clean and efficient technologies in transport, industry and energy;

  4. Bio-based Industries (BBI): to use renewable natural resources and innovative technologies for greener everyday products;

  5. Electronics (ECSEL): to boost Europe’s electronics manufacturing capabilities.
The Commission is also proposing to extend the SESAR (Single European Sky ATM Research), which aims to modernise Air Traffic Management in Europe.

The public-private partnership of the Biobased Industries Consortium (BIC), a cross-sector group of 48 large and small companies, is worth €3.8 billion; it will accelerate the deployment of biobased products in Europe by 2020.

"This is a unique partnership that places sustainability at the heart of all economic, social and industrial activities," said Berry Wiersum, chief executive of Sappi, a global paper company. "It is about realising the untapped potential of biomass and waste, to deliver sustainable growth in Europe."

Guy Talbourdet, chief executive of Roquette Frères, said that BIC comes at a critical time for European development of the bioeconomy. "It will accelerate the market entry of new biobased products 'made in Europe' in the so-called biorefineries. The use of locally grown biomass will not only enable growth and jobs in rural areas across European regions, but it will also reduce the EU's reliance on fossil or proteins imports."

The Proposal for a Council Regulation on the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking will expand the use of clean and efficient technologies in transport, industry and energy and improve energy security in Europe.

NEW-IG (New Energy World Industry Grouping), the leading European industrial association, that represents much of Europe’s hydrogen and fuel cell industry, acknowledged that some 150 projects and over 430 industry and research organisations have already won support under the current programme.

This will now be continued under the new proposals, which will step up activities with a €1.4 billion budget until 2020. Pierre-Etienne Franc, Chairman of the Board of NEW-IG called the announcement “a sign that Europe will strive to establish this technology as a key enabler for its future energy and transport roadmap. Joint priority setting and a long term perspective are key to enabling private investment in such complex, societal challenges.”

Màire Geoghegan-Quinn added: "Thanks to the current Fuel Cells and Hydrogen partnership, you can take a ride on hydrogen-powered pollution-free buses in five cities across Europe.

"But much research and development is still needed to make this application of FCH technology widespread and those for clean energy production and storage commercially attractive. The EU and industry will continue to work together under this new initiative to help reduce the carbon footprint of our energy and transport sectors."

Henri Winand, CEO of Intelligent Energy, observed, “This public-private partnership is testament to the very real possibilities of hydrogen as an important energy vector for more sustainable and competitive energy systems.”

The Commission's proposals are expected to be finalised and approved by the European Parliament by the beginning of 2014.

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