EURELECTRIC welcomes a more integrated approach to innovation

16 December 2015

EURELECTRIC has published a position paper today in which it expresses strong support for the new approach taken by the European Commission regarding innovation. The position paper welcomes the Commission’s SET Plan Communication that was published on 15 September, which advocates the development of a more systemic approach with the aim of avoiding working in silos.

The potential value of power sector innovation is extremely important to the European economy: we estimate that accelerated innovation in power supply technologies and business models for energy efficiency could be worth €70 billion by 2030,” said Hans Ten Berge, Secretary General of EURELECTRIC. “We are seeing that despite the difficult economic situation, utilities are still willing to invest in R&D and innovation. The SET Plan Communication provides the basis for the development of new research and innovation plans by the Member States and can be considered as a relevant contribution towards accelerating the energy system transformation.”

The Commission’s Communication makes a sound assessment of the current state of innovation and RD&D policies in the energy sector, and the first results delivered by the SET Plan. The conclusions of this assessment are in line with EURELECTRIC's views, and go in the right direction towards improving the current SET Plan and the Integrated Roadmap process. EURELECTRIC also welcomes the fact that, in the Communication, the need for a smarter energy system empowering the customers and enabling downstream innovation, the call for an improved governance system, as well as the issue of demonstration and commercialisation, are all adequately addressed and identified as key challenges.

EURELECTRIC believes that a stable and clear innovation policy pathway is needed. Policymakers must therefore simplify and improve energy innovation policy, while ensuring that regulation does not hinder innovation. The review of the governance framework of the SET Plan proposed by the Commission will be a crucial element in this regard. We also believe that European innovation policy should be technology neutral and should follow a more regional approach, focusing on promoting and enhancing synergies between Member States’ innovation activities.

EURELECTRIC welcomes the shift towards a more integrated approach to innovation as reflected in the Communication. However, the Commission should follow up on this initiative in order to foster the growing interconnections with other sectors of the economy, such as transport and construction, as well as within the energy sector, along the entire value chain. We believe that adopting a more result-oriented approach to innovation is also a positive development, provided that it takes into account all power technologies.

Finally, it is crucial that innovation is adequately integrated and recognised in the upcoming legislative proposals being developed by the Commission, such as the proposals for a new electricity market design, the reviews of the RES and energy efficiency legislation, etc. The implementation of the SET Plan should be consistent with and fully support this process. As one of the five pillars of the Energy Union, innovation will play a crucial role in the achievement of the Energy Union as well as the EU’s 2030 climate and energy objectives.

EURELECTRIC's response to the SET Plan Communication is available here.

EURELECTRIC recently launched its innovation webpage. It is available here.  

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