The solar, wind, electricity grid and CCS European Industrial Initiatives have just been launched at a conference in Madrid. The question of financing the initiatives remains largely unaddressed.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Deputy Director General for Scientific Advances of DG Research, Rudolf Strohmeier, said little money would be available at EU level and that the bulk of the 37 billion Euros identified for these sectors for the next ten years would have to come from industry and the Member States.
But Europe could do more. The international ITER fusion project, in which the European Union has a major direct stake, is now short of money following an upward revision of its costs. It will require an urgent and radical refinancing solution. One of the options suggested in a Communication from the Commission dated 7 May is to amend the EU budget to allow more to be spent on ITER while another part of the budget is cut. EUREC Agency believes any bail-out of ITER using this option is an opportunity to perform a major mid-term overhaul of the EU budget that would find new money for renewable energy technologies. This would make the bail-out easier to sell to the European public and demonstrate that the Commission is prepared, before the next 7-year budgetary cycle starts in 2014, to find a part of the billions of euros of additional necessary spending on R&D and demonstration identified in its Communication “Investing in the development of low carbon technologies“.
The Commission would have the political cover to do this. In a question to the Commission dated 20 May, MEP Reimer Böge makes the point that the 2006 Inter-Institutional Agreement on the EU budget provides for adjustments to different budgetary headings “should a Treaty revision with budgetary implications occur”. Since then the Lisbon Treaty has been adopted giving the EU new priorities including in energy and climate change.