Willem van der Heul, DGXVII­Energy, The European Commission

A few months ago, the Directorate-General for Energy (DG XVII) of the European Commission (EC) joined CADDET. The reason for this was that we felt that CADDET and THERMIE, the EC's energy technology demonstration programme, have a lot in common in the field of promotion and exchange of information on energy technologies. Therefore it seemed logical to look for fields of co-operation and at the same time avoid overlaps.

Recently the EC has started a new programme for Research and Development ­ the Fifth Framework Programme. It runs for the period 1999 to 2002 and has a total budget of almost E15 billion (where E is the euro). For energy technology alone there will be a budget of around E1 billion, including demonstration and information exchange activities. Compared to the previous R&D programme (Fourth Framework) the biggest change will be the focus on concrete problems and challenges, where the old programme was more technology oriented.

One of the largest challenges will be to reach the goal the European Commission set itself (1) for doubling the share of renewable energy from the present level of almost 6% to 12% in the year 2010. We think this is an ambitious, but realistic goal: ambitious because a number of easier, cost effective, investments have already been made, and the more difficult ones have yet to be done; realistic because we foresee that some renewable energy technologies can really break through in the coming years, for example biomass and wind energy.

There are also many non-technological factors that are holding back the greater development and implementation of renewable energy technologies throughout the EU and world-wide. Initial investment costs are still high and investors often lack confidence in technologies that are relatively unknown. Therefore the sector definitely also needs some "take off" help, to speak in marketing terms. In the EC we have the (non-technological) renewable energy programme ALTENER to help here. I'm convinced that professionally-made information material, like CADDET is producing, can also help enormously in promoting renewable energies and I'm looking forward to our collaboration.

(1) Internet: (Communication from the European Commission ENERGY FOR THE FUTURE: RENEWABLE SOURCES OF ENERGY, White Paper for a Community Strategy and Action Plan, COM(97)599 final (26/11/97)).

The CADDET Renewable Energy Newsletter is a quarterly magazine published by the CADDET Centre for Renewable Energy at ETSU, UK.

The articles published in the Newsletter reflect the opinions of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the official view of CADDET.

Enquiries concerning the Newsletter should be addressed to Pauline Toole, Editor, CADDET Centre for Renewable Energy, ETSU, Harwell, Oxfordshire OX11 0RA, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 1235 432968, Fax: +44 1235 433595.