November has been a crucial moment for the revamp of the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan, with the deadline for the Call for evidence on 2nd November followed by the annual SET Plan Conference in Prague on 9-10 November.
Established in 2007, the SET Plan is the R&I pillar of the EU energy and climate policy. Its aim is to promote the fast and cost-competitive development of low-carbon technologies and EU technological leadership. It does so by aligning EU and national funding programmes in research and innovation on common priorities and by coordinating national efforts across all participating countries (EU Member States, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Turkey). In 2015, the SET Plan was revised in the direction of a more integrated approach, identifying 6 priorities and 10 key actions.
Different structures contribute to the implementation of the SET Plan, including: the SET Plan Steering Group, gathering representatives from the participating countries; the European Technology and Innovation Platforms (ETIPs); the 14 Implementation Working Groups established so far; the European Energy Research Alliance (EERA).
Solar Heat Europe (SHE) is actively participating in all the phases of the SET Plan revamp. For the recent Call for evidence, it contributed on behalf of its members and ESTTP (European Solar Thermal Technology Platform), but it also coordinated joint contributions by RHC ETIP (European Technology and Innovation Platform on Renewable Heating and Cooling) and the Renewable Heating and Cooling Alliance.
SHE recommendations revolve around three core pillars:
- Higher focus on renewable heating and cooling technologies, especially solar heat, with the inclusion of renewable heat sources under priority “Being n. 1 in renewables” and the establishment of an Implementation Working Group dedicated to solar heat.
- Better coordination in the EU R&I ecosystem, especially between the actors involved in the implementation of the SET Plan.
- Synergies across funding programmes and use of innovative funding instruments.
Despite heating and cooling representing half of the EU energy consumption, the SET Plan has so far put a much greater focus on power generation. In the context of the ongoing energy crisis, ensuring adequate investments in renewable heating technologies such as solar thermal is essential to achieve energy security and affordability in Europe without compromising EU climate goals.
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