Europe Ups the Stakes in Global Cleantech Race

U.S. Energy Research and Development Funding History

Europe plans to triple annual funding for energy research to $11.7billion in an effort to compete with Japan and the United States, whichhave both invested vast sums for new energy and technology research,according to the Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan) by the European Commission reported by Reutersyesterday.  Ultimately, the EU will add more than 50 billion eurosof new funding for research over the next 10 years to ensure a widerange of technology emerges to help the EU meet its goal of reducinggreenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

Solar energy research is set to receive 16 billion euros over the next decade while as many as 30 ultra energy-efficient “Smart Cities“ are scheduled be built with a price tag of 11 billion euros.  Wind energyresearch should get 6 billion euros over the next decade, nuclearresearch should get 7 billion euros and energy from biomass and otherwaste 9 billion.  There should also be 13 billion euros for researchon “carbon capture and storage” systems, which aim to sequester carbon dioxide from power stations in geological formations buried deep underground.

“We can not sit back and wait for such potentially game changingbreakthroughs to emerge from laboratories and make the often long andarduous journey to market,” the report says.

The strategy is aimed at slashing outputof gases blamed for climate change, but it also is to wean the EU offits dependency on costly oil and gas for 80 percent of its energyneeds.  In the meantime, the spending will likely be a major boon forcleantech companies in Europe.

The report also predicts the investment in cleantech will create anestimated 250,000 jobs over the next decade as wind power shifts itsfocus to the seas.  Over 200,000 skilled jobs could be created in thesolar energy sector, and the same number in bioenergy plants togenerate energy from burning household and agricultural waste.

“Motor fuels direct from sunlight, digital light sources that lastfor decades, batteries that store electricity at 10 times the currentdensity — these are some of the technologies of the future . . . ,”says the draft.  “To master them we have to explore new levels ofcomplexity in the physical and chemical phenomena that control howmaterials perform and interact.”



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