Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Framework programme


Previous programme


Successor programme


Programme funding

EUR 217 million

Official Journal Reference

L 257 of 1991-09-14

Legislative Reference

91/484/CEE of 1991-09-09
To contribute to the development of new energy options that are both economically viable and more environmentally safe, including energy-saving technologies, by means of joint activities to assist Member States in this direction.


Part of the third framework programme for Community activities in the field of research and technological development (1990 to 1994) under subactivity II.5.: "Energy", the programme builds on and continues work carried out under the first JOULE programme (1989-1992).

Increased attention will be paid to work on those energy technologies which, despite their high potential and the fact that they have no adverse effects on the environment, particularly the climate, cannot be used under satisfactory economic conditions at present as this work cannot yet be fully funded by industry.

The activities include: either technological projects designed to explore, establish a structure for or test the technical feasibility of minority concepts prior to any industrial development, or strategic fundamental research projects aimed at developing new areas of basic knowledge likely to become the focus for industrial research work.

The projects for the promotion of energy technology, situated downstream of the projects eligible under this programme, will be financed wholly pursuant to Regulation (EEC) No 2008/90 concerning the THERMIE programme (1990-1994), with which they must be closely coordinated. Coordination must also be established with the other specific programmes, particularly the "agriculture and agro-industry" and the "industrial and materials technology" programmes.

Research into modelling is a horizontal research area which will be carried out to gain more knowledge of the processes involved and to enable technological strategies to be assessed.


Four areas:

- Analysis of strategies and modelling:
To define energy R&D strategies and to analyse national or Community policies dealing with energy and environment:
. Analysis of strategies:
To assess the strategic role of energy efficiency at demand and supply level and renewables towards a reduction of the damaging effect of energy production and utilization on the environment, emphasis being put on greenhouse gas emissions, in particular carbon dioxide;
. Development of new methods:
To account for the impact of the internal market on the energy system, for the social constraints involved in policy decision making, for the treatment of uncertainty and for the economic impact of the policies modelled;

- Minimum emission power production from fossil sources:
To optimize energy production from fossil sources and to reduce the adverse effects on the environment resulting from the widespread use of fossil fuels. Two main activities:
. Energy production from fossil sources using advanced technologies:
To increase the efficiency of energy production from fossil sources, by means of advanced technologies;
. Reduction of emissions:
To reduce emissions through the capture and stable disposal of pollutants;

- Renewable energy sources:
To accelerate technological readiness and to prepare for early market integration of all the most promising technical options. Within a global systems approach, particular objectives are to increase the conversion efficiency of solar, wind, mini-hydraulic, wave, tidal, biomass and geothermal systems, decrease their costs and improve their attractiveness to developers, industry and consumers:
. The solar house:
To contribute to solar design concepts by integrating heat use and photovoltaic integration for new and old dwellings and buildings;
. Renewable power plants:
To develop renewable energy for future large-scale application in electric utility systems;
. Biomass:
To promote the development of energy produced from the biomass for research on the techniques applicable to its conversion and use, including experimenting with autonomous, regional energy systems;
. Renewable energies for rural electricity, local fuel and water:
To provide, for electricity and water, an integrated approach to rural development. For fuels, technologies for using biomass residues and energy crops in cost-effective and environment friendly energy generation systems, on-site or for local networks, will be further developed;
. Geothermal energy:
To select a test site and subsequently to develop a single European prototype hot dry rock system;

- Energy utilization and conservation:
. New options in energy conversion:
To develop highly efficient and clean electrochemical energy conversion systems for electricity generation, cogeneration, hydrogen and methanol production, transport and industrial electrochemical reactors;
. Technologies for energy saving:
To develop and improve technologies which are expected to have a major impact on heat and electricity savings and on a reduction of pollution;
. Energy efficiency in transport including suitable substitutes for conventional fuels:
To develop advanced technologies which can lead to highly efficient and clean transport. This area, which will involve the participation of industry, deals with short, medium and long term research and includes both combustion engines and fuel-cell and battery-driven electric vehicles. It is complementary to transport activities carried out in the industrial and materials technologies programmes.


The Commission is responsible for the implementation of the programme, assisted by a committee of an advisory nature composed of representatives of the Member States and chaired by a representative of the Commission.

The programme comprises research and technological development (RTD) projects, accompanying measures and concerted actions.

The projects are the subject of shared-cost contracts, with Community financial participation not normally exceeding 50%. Universities and other research centres have the option of requesting, for each project, either 50% funding of total expenditure or 100% funding of the additional marginal costs. Contracts relating to shared-cost research projects must as a general rule be concluded following a selection procedure based on calls for proposals published in the Official Journal of the European Communities. Where projects are of equal scientific value, the Commission, by agreement with the above mentioned committee, will pay special attention to those which can be integrated into regional energy planning. Projects must, as a general rule, provide for the participation of at least two partners, each independent of the other, established in different Member States.

The accompanying measures consist of:
- The organization of seminars, workshops and scientific conferences;
- Internal coordination through the creation of integrating groups;
- Advanced technology training programmes, with emphasis being placed on multidisciplinarity;
- Promotion of the exploitation of results;
- Independent scientific and strategic evaluation of the operation of the research projects and the programme.

Concerted actions consist of action by the Community to coordinate the individual research activities carried out in the Member States. They may benefit from funding of up to 100% of coordinating expenditure.

The Commission is authorized to negotiate, in accordance with Article 130n of the Treaty, international agreements with third countries which are members of COST, in particular the member countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, with a view to associating them with all or part of the programme.

Bodies and enterprises established in European non-Member States may, on the basis of the criterion of mutual benefit, be allowed to become partners in a project undertaken within the programme. However, such bodies may not benefit from Community financing for the programme and shall contribute to the general administrative costs.

The Community funds estimated as necessary for the execution of the programme amount to ECU 217 million, of which a sum amounting to 1% of the budget is earmarked as the contribution from the programme to the centralized scheme for the dissemination and exploitation of results.

The knowledge acquired in the course of the projects will be disseminated both within the programme and by means of the centralized scheme.

The Commission will review the programme during the second year and send a report to the European Parliament and the Council. At the end of the programme an evaluation of the results achieved will be conducted by a group of independent experts and submitted to these same bodies.
Record Number: 188 / Last updated on: 2014-03-05