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EERA SEcretariat 3

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - EERASE3 (EERA SEcretariat 3)

Reporting period: 2017-09-01 to 2018-08-31

During the second half of the EERASE3 project, EERA continued to pursue its tasks addressing the following main issue: how to strengthen and expand Europe’s capabilities through supporting coordination of energy research towards the achievement of the SET-Plan priorities. EERA's efforts increasingly focused on supporting the coordination of national research agendas and resources among MS/AC. EERA primarily adopts a bottom-up approach, achieving institutional alignment through the setup, coordination and management of the 17 EERA Joint Programmes (JPs), the mobility of researchers, and the development and use of common infrastructures. In the course of EERASE3, EERA has devoted significant effort to analyse and better understand the SET Plan national funding mechanisms in order to foster national alignment towards EU objectives.
Since its foundation in 2008, EERA has been involved in a continuous effort to coordinate European research – and support researchers´ collaboration with industry, decision makers and other key stakeholders – to accelerate the development of low carbon solutions. This has been pursued in line with the objectives of the SET-Plan, the Energy Union and, on a global scale the Paris Agreement. The EERASE3 project was meant to provide support to the research community in this effort. Helping to decarbonise the energy system requires a coordinated and consistent effort across technologies, sectors and players and has a direct impact on people´s life, business, and the environment. During EERASE3, EERA has recognized the importance of further reaching out to the wider stakeholder community in order to increase and accelerate societal impact of scientific research and innovation.
EERA´s overall objective is to coordinate leading energy research for a competitive and sustainable low carbon Europe in line with its mission to deliver on the SET-Plan by connecting European researchers to accelerate the development of low carbon solutions. EERA pursues its vision by exchanging knowledge, creating common research and innovation agendas, sharing resources, implementing joint projects and programmes and delivering results for policy makers and industry to use.
At the end of the project, EERA has been able to complete all planned tasks and reach its objectives: as a relevant contribution to the SET-Plan, 14 out of 17 Joint programmes actively delivered on 14 of the 15 TWGs contributing to the definition of the SET Plan Implementation Plans; the role of EERA as relevant advisor within the SET-Plan governance framework was strengthened; EERA cooperation with EUA was enhanced and several new universities became EERA members; a few new institutions from the EU13 countries joined EERA, widening the geographical participation. This encouraging trend will be pursued to further enhance the participation of EU13 countries in the EERA research community. EERA and EUA produced a unified vision on FP9 through a joint Policy Paper.
Further results include the review of four JPs; one hearing led to the decision to close JP-Shale Gas and one hearing led to the potential creation of a new JP. This indicates the dynamic management of EERA’s portfolio of JP’s, in line with the evolution of technologies and of EU strategic energy priorities; the finalization of the JP Characterization process; collecting data for the key performance indicators (KPIs) and reporting and reviewing the Strategy and Implementation Plan (SIP).
The implementation of the review repository took place during the second project period. Regarding the strategy, a dedicated Working Group has been launched to ensure the continuous update of the SIP. For the KPIs, an increase was observed in FTEs active in EU energy research within EERA members compared to last year.
One of the key outcomes of the EERASE3 project consisted in supporting a better integration and coordination of the European energy research community through several actions related to cross-cutting/systemic dimension of the energy transition (e.g. ‘Scientific Advice to Policy for the Future of Energy Research’ conference, High Temperature materials position paper etc). The EERA Summer Strategy Meetings in Vienna (May 2017) and in Dubiecko (June 2018) strongly contributed to steer the relevant actions to achieve those goals and take stock of progress.
Exploitation and dissemination of the results was successfully performed by different reports and events targeting members, as well as key EU stakeholders and decision makers.
The communication and dissemination activities included the collection and share of EERA success stories; the update of EERA web pages, the support to JP activities, the promotion of the IP Showcase, the distribution of regular newsletters, the production of communication materials (roll-up, leaflets) and the organisation of the following conferences: the Scientific Conference in Birmingham, 2016; the High-Level Political conference in Brussels, 2017; the ‘Scientific Advice to Policy for the Future of Energy Research’ conference in Brussels, 2018; the EERA’s 10-year Anniversary Conference in Brussels, 2018.
Finally, the mapping of national funding schemes exercise, detailed in the following section, was also a cornerstone activity of year 2 and will constitute an essential building block for future activities of EERA supporting the EU-SET Plan.
The pilot exercise on European alignment conducted during PR2 delivered a mapping of national funding schemes in the SET-Plan countries, as a step towards a better coordination of resources in European energy research. Despite several common approaches, major differences among countries were also recognized, highlighting the complexity of the alignment exercise. The outcome of this work became the building block to develop existing and/or shape new co-funding models to reinforce European energy research alignment focusing on the SET Plan Implementation Plans (IPs).
In view of ensuring a harmonized European energy research coordination across Europe, during the second year EERA started a campaign to widen its research network to EU13 Countries. This activity will be pursued in the future.
EERA's activities also impacted the shaping of the SET-Plan IPs. EERA JPs delivered in nearly all TWGs/IWGs, contributing to defining R&I needs and identifying relevant existing national R&I activities for the SET-Plan IPs.
Besides, EERA has established closer collaboration with EUA, strengthening and boosting the relations EERA has with universities. One good example of joint effort is the common position paper on the next Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (Horizon Europe), emphasizing the need to keep sustainable energy as a top priority and proposing a set of principles and recommendations in the design of Horizon Europe.
Finally, EERA organised a High-Level Political Event on the occasion of EERA's 10-year Anniversary, generating high-level participation and interest from the European Commission, with both DG RTD and DG ENER represented by their Director Generals, deputies and advisors. The representatives of the EERA JPs taking part in the panels further evidenced the pivotal role of EERA in key R&I areas and the necessity of adopting a truly holistic systemic approach to best leverage the impact of scientific and technological innovation in achieving EU 2030 and 2050 climate end energy targets.