Research, innovation (R&I) and competitiveness encompasses all dimensions of the Energy Union strategy. By further improving our research and innovation performance, we will increase the competitiveness of European economy and will drive the transition to make clean energy affordable and sustainable for all Europeans. The European Commission with a new Communication to ''Accelerate Clean Energy Innovation'' addresses significant regulatory and financial barriers in order to promote the competitiveness of European industries in energy and transport and to support the pan-European goals for more jobs and growth. It identifies four areas where further focus will be needed which are complementary to the Energy Union R&I priority areas and the SET Plan actions.
Energy union with a forward-looking climate change policy
Energy Union is one of the key political priorities of the Juncker's Commission 2014-2019. The Energy Union strategy is built on the ambition to achieve a fundamental transformation of Europe's energy system in a cost-effective manner. It is based on five mutually-reinforcing and closely interrelated dimensions:
- Energy security, solidarity and trust;
- A fully integrated European energy market;
- Energy efficiency contributing to moderation of the demand;
- Decarbonisation of the economy, and
- Research, Innovation and Competitiveness.
This fifth dimension of the energy strategy is structured around four core R&I priorities: (1) Becoming number one in developing the next generation of low-carbon technologies; (2) Facilitating consumer participation and the acceleration of progress towards the future smart energy system; (3) Developing and reinforcing energy efficient systems; (4) Diversifying and strengthening options for sustainable transport. These are complemented by two additional priorities which will be the object of collaboration between the Commission and those Member States who want to use these technologies: (5) Driving ambition in carbon capture and storage deployment; (6) Increasing safety in the use of nuclear energy.
SET Plan – Accelerating the European Energy System Transformation
The European Strategic Energy Technology (SET)-Plan aims to transform energy production and use in the EU with the goal of achieving EU worldwide leadership and cost reduction in the production of energy technological solutions capable of delivering EU 2020 and 2050 targets.
Since 2007, Europe has taken a strategic approach to innovation and identified priorities that have been delivered through the Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan), with the aim to speed up the energy transition. Three SET Plan Communications in 2006, 2007 and 2009, introduced the SET Plan concept, launched the plan (including the commitment to create SETIS) and determined the financial requirements to implement the SET Plan. A fourth Communication, in 2013, reinforced the modalities of the SET Plan implementation, as the overarching umbrella for energy research and innovation for the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme.
The Integrated SET-Plan Communication (September 2015), being one of the core initiatives of the Research, Innovation and Competitiveness dimension of the Energy Union strategy, responds to new challenges needed for accelerating the European energy system's transformation towards a competitive low-carbon economy with consumers at the centre. It puts forward:
- A more targeted focus, with ten actions, based on the Integrated Roadmap priorities and structured around the (4+2) Energy Union's R&I political priorities;
- A more integrated approach, moving away from a vertical and technology-specific focus to a more horizontally integrated approach to the energy system as a whole;
- A new SET-Plan management mode to ensure increased transparency, accountability and monitoring of the progress achieved, as well as a result-oriented approach;
- A strengthened partnership (1) between the Commission and the SET Plan countries (MSs and Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Turkey), (2) among these countries, leading to more joint actions and better coordination, (3) with the stakeholders, taking into account the need of engaging new actors to address the new challenges.
In 2016, these ten actions served as a starting point for discussions with SET Plan countries and stakeholders (industry and research actors) on the prioritisation of activities to be implemented at regional, national and European level. The next phase includes the development of Implementation Plans with concrete actions to be proposed and agreed. The progress that has been achieved on the ten key actions will be part of the State of the Energy Union annual reporting to the European Parliament and the Council.
SETIS - An integrated reporting and effective monitoring tool to support the Energy Union’s governance
The Integrated SET Plan needs to be underpinned by an effective monitoring and reporting scheme that supports the development and implementation of the European R&I Agenda. SETIS plays a central role in the successful implementation of the Integrated SET Plan 10 key actions. In particular, the enhanced SETIS follows the objectives below:
- To monitor R&I activities, investments and technology progress in Europe;
- To contribute to the identification of gaps in the implementation of the actions;
- To report on the overall progress towards the common goals set out in the integrated SET-Plan;
- To contribute to assessing the impact of the SET-Plan on European competitiveness;
- To make recommendations for actions that could further increase the effectiveness of the European R&I Strategy.
The importance of an enhanced SETIS has been recognised in the Energy Technologies & Innovation Communication (2013) and is also implied in the Energy Union Strategy (2015). The Energy Union calls for an integrated and lean monitoring process by: (1) an effective data, analysis and intelligence management for the Energy Union, an initiative that will collect, harmonise and make easily accessible all relevant knowledge in the Commission and Member States; and, (2) annual reporting to the European Parliament and the Council on the state of the Energy Union in order to address the key issues and steer the policy debate. In this context, the SETIS while primarily addressing energy R&I, provides also information and analysis related to competitiveness in line with the Energy Union strategy mandate. In addition, SETIS prepares the contribution of the SET-Plan to the annual State of the Energy Union report, in close collaboration with the Steering Group.
 Publishes in December 2014 and following an extensive consultation among research and industry Stakeholders and SET Plan countries