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What is "Sustainable Energy Systems"?

Europe's energy system demonstrates unsustainable patterns of development characterised by growing dependence on imported fossil fuels, rising energy demand and growing CO2 emissions. These unsustainable patterns are exacerbated in key sectors like buildings and transport that are intimately linked with the quality of life of European citizens. The challenge is to alleviate and reverse these adverse trends to achieve a truly sustainable energy system, while preserving the equilibrium of ecosystems and encouraging economic development.

The strategic and policy objectives of this programme of research into sustainable energy systems include reducing greenhouse gases and pollutant emissions (Kyoto), increasing the security of energy supplies, improving energy efficiency and increasing the use of renewable energy, as well as enhancing the competitiveness of European industry and improving quality of life both within the EU and globally (Johannesburg follow-up).

In addition to contributing towards research policy objectives, the expected results, contributions to overall policy objectives and potential performance parameters should be the following:

  • to contribute to the policy objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to levels of 8% lower than those of 1990 by 2010, and keeping the effort to sustain this trend beyond 2012 (Kyoto Protocol).

  • to contribute to the doubling of the share (from 6% to 12%) of Renewable Energy Sources by 2010 (White Paper on Renewable Energy); 12% energy savings through rational use and demand reduction by 2010; reversing the trend towards an increase (from 50% to 70%) in the dependence on foreign energy supply.

  • to support the implementation of the EU Directives on electricity from renewable energy sources (target of 22% from green electricity by 2010), and on the energy performance of buildings, as well as the forthcoming Directives to establish regulatory and fiscal measures for the promotion of liquid biofuels.

  • to develop the conditions for the progressive introduction of alternative motor fuels in the market in order to reach the 20% substitution by 2020.

  • to reduce the EU energy intensity by -18%, and to make progress towards the global indicative community target of 18% of electricity consumption from co-generation by the year 2010.

  • to contribute to the reduction in the longer term of new and renewable energy costs to levels which are competitive with fossil fuel based energy supplies.

In addressing these objectives through this Work Programme, a clear differentiation is made between research activities having the potential for exploitation in the short to medium term and those which are expected to have an impact in the medium to longer term . This distinction between the short-to-medium and medium-to-long term time frames is applicable to all indirect research actions in the sustainable energy sector and it is intended that the budgetary appropriations be split equally between the two time frames.

The differentiation between time-frames for the proposed activities is justified by the need to achieve two complementary objectives in parallel. On the one hand, it is important to demonstrate the next generation of technologies, which are already available or are in a very advanced stage of development, and accelerate their market introduction. On the other hand, a consistent and continuous RTD effort is needed in order to ensure that promising emerging technologies will, in the medium-to-long term, overcome the thresholds of affordability and durability, which currently inhibit their introduction into competitive markets.

Most research activities will fall clearly into one or other of the two time-frames. Co-ordination measures will be established to ensure a coherent approach and manage any potential overlaps. Prospective proposers should pay careful attention to the different objectives, types of action and approaches expected within the two sub-sections of the sustainable energy systems work programme and target their proposals accordingly.

In order to assemble a critical mass of resources helping to integrate and strengthen the European Research Area, the new instruments - Networks of Excellence (NoE) and Integrated Projects (IP) - will be widely used. These new instruments complemented by Specific Targeted Research Projects (STREPs), Co-ordination Actions (CA) and Specific Support Actions (SSA) will be implemented by means of periodic calls for proposals with a total indicative budget of 890 M‚¬.

For a detailed description of the topics open for proposals, please refer to the specific call information and Work Programme available here .

Most of the research activities funded in the framework of "Sustainable Energy Systems" build upon previous and ongoing activities supported within the Energy part of the " Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development " (EESD) Programme of the Fifth Framework Programme.As many of these activities will only be completed during the period 2003-2006, you are kindly invited to refer regularly to this site.


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