ERKC

Energy Research Knowledge Centre

Czech Republic

Research themes and prioritisation

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Energy research in the Czech Republic is affected on one hand by EU policy aiming to reduce CO2 emissions and on the other by Czech energy policy targeting a secure and independent energy supply.

The current National Research, Development and Innovation Policy 2009–2015 recognises eight main research priorities. The third of these focuses on energy sources[1], including power generation from fossil fuels, nuclear fission and fusion, renewable and alternative energy sources, energy distribution networks and other infrastructure elements. Other research areas, such as materials, the environment, security and defence issues, also have close links to energy.

For energy research, the emphasis is on nuclear fission; thermonuclear fusion; renewable and alternative energy sources (biomass, wind, geothermal and solar energy); energy systems and networks; and fossil fuels (combustion and multi-fuel operation).

[1] National Research, Development and Innovation Policy 2009–2015; p.163.

Organisation of research

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The institutional framework for R&D in the Czech Republic is organised centrally: its main policy is implemented by the Czech Parliament, while conceptual and strategic management is the ultimate responsibility of the Prime Minister. Operational management is led by the Research, Development and Innovation Council, and all public funding, as an integral part of the state budget, is administered by the Ministry of Finance.

Until 2008 all public R&D funding was provided through the budgets of 22 public bodies: ministries, central offices of state and public administration. The largest providers were the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MSMT), the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic (AV CR), the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MPO) and the Czech Science Foundation (GA CR).

Since the R&D reforms started in 2008 some key changes have been made. These include the simplification of the funding system (including the introduction of institutional funding based on results); support for co-funding from third parties (industrial partners) and international cooperation; the redistribution of financial support from the national budget; reducing the number of public funding bodies from 22 to 11; and the establishment of a Technology Agency (TA CR) responsible for applied R&D research funding.

The previous main public funding bodies remain, though with new responsibilities. The Research, Development and Innovation Council provides funds for university research; the Czech Science Foundation (GA CR) supports basic research; the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport and the Academy of Sciences are responsible for institutional funding; and the Ministry of Industry and Trade provides structural funds and public support for private R&D (Figure 1). Significant private funding of R&D is also now developing, and its share is nearly as high as the public one, with foreign companies dominant (Table 1).


Figure 1: Organisational structure of energy research in the Czech Republic.

AV CR: Academy of Science of the Czech Republic
GA AV: Grant Agency of the Academy of Science of the Czech Republic
GA CR: Czech Science Foundation
TA CR: Technology Agency of the Czech Republic

Programmes and budgets

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Budget overview

Since 2007, as the new financial plan has been approved by the Czech government, the energy R&D budget has increased from €760 million in 2007 to €870 million in 2008, €940 million in 2009, €1 010 million in 2010 and €1 090 million in 2011[2].

Most of this budget is dedicated to institutional funding, distributed mainly by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and the Academy of Science of the Czech Republic.

Because of the great importance of the energy sector and the outdated research infrastructure, the Czech government has planned significant annual budgets for both operation and investment in energy R&D for the period 2009–2015 (Table 1).

Table 1: Operating and investment budgets for energy-related R&D in the Czech Republic, 2010–2015

Sources:
National Policy for Research, Development and Innovation 2009–2015;
IEA 2010: Energy Policies of IEA countries; The Czech Republic 2010 Review
Under the current project-related funding regime the main programmes with significant budgets for energy research are managed by the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic (Table 2). The figures shown are estimates only, because all these programmes cover other areas besides energy research.

Table 2: R&D programmes relating to energy research in the Czech Republic

* One-third of the total budget of €300 million; this estimate is based on the 29 % share of energy-related projects in the first call.
** The total budget is €243 million for 35 planned research centres. The assumption here is that three research centres, each with a budget of €7 million, will be dedicated to energy-related research.
*** Total budgets are €26 million (BETA) and €2.5 million (OMEGA). The assumption is that 10 % of these budgets will apply to energy research.

[2] IEA 2010: Energy Policies of  IEA countries; The Czech Republic 2010 Review; p.129.

Programmes and initiatives

ALFA Programme

Program ALFA

The ALFA Programme, managed by the Technology Agency, supports projects in applied R&D. It aims to increase the intensity and effectiveness of R&D cooperation between business and research organisations. It has been approved for the period 2010–2016, with three calls (in 2010, 2011 and 2012). Public funds are estimated to cover 65 % of the programme’s overall budget. The ALFA programme contains three sub-programmes:

  • Progressive technologies, materials and systems (enabling technologies applicable to multiple industries);
  • Energy resources and environmental protection (renewable energy, protection of ecosystems, environmentally friendly technologies);
  • Sustainable development of transport (infrastructure, telematics, and energy-efficient, environmentally friendly and safe transport).

The budget of €300 million is distributed among the three sub-programmes according to the number of project proposals recommended for financing.

Competence Centres Programme

Centra Kompetence

The Competence Centres Programme, managed by the Technology Agency, has been approved for the period 2012–2019, with calls in 2011, 2013 and 2015. It supports the creation and operation of R&D and innovation centres in developing fields with strong application potential, with a focus on creating conditions for the development of long-term collaboration between the public and private sectors on R&D and innovation. The plan is to create around 35 centres (approximately 15 in the first call), each containing at least three private enterprises and one public research organisation. From the first project proposals, three energy-related Competence Centres have been selected. The total budget of the programme is €243 million. The part of the budget allocated to energy research can only be calculated by examining individual projects.

BETA Programme

Program BETA

The BETA Programme (2012–2016), also managed by the Technology Agency, covers public procurement in R&D and innovation for the needs of public administration (nine ministries and other state bodies). The results of this procurement, including the intellectual property rights, may be owned and used only by state bodies that define research topics and offer specific solutions reflecting their needs. The total budget of the programme is €26 million. The part of the budget allocated to energy research can only be calculated by examining individual projects.

OMEGA Programme

Program OMEGA

The OMEGA Programme (2012–2017), managed by the Technology Agency, will support applied social science R&D. Energy-related research is not excluded. The total budget of the programme is €2.5 million. The part of the budget allocated to energy research can only be calculated by examining individual projects.

National govermment departments

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Research, Development and Innovation Council

Rada pro Výzkum, Vývoj a Inovace

The Research, Development and Innovation Council is an expert body which advises the government on R&D and draws up long-term fundamental plans for R&D in the Czech Republic. The Council also maintains a medium-term forecast for R&D support and proposes how the total costs of R&D should be met from individual programme budgets.

Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MEYS)

Ministerstvo Školství, Mládeže a Tělovýchovy (MŠMT)

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport is the central administrator for schools and higher education institutions, scientific policy and R&D, including international cooperation. The Ministry is responsible for setting R&D priorities through the National Research Programme and for preparing the National Research and Development Policy.

Ministry of Industry and Trade (MPO)

Ministerstvo Průmyslu a Obchodu

The Ministry of Industry and Trade is responsible for developing the energy sector and supporting applied research in this area.

Ministry for Regional Development

Ministerstvo pro Místní Rozvoj

This ministry acts as managing authority for operational programmes in regional policy, housing policy and assistance to non-government non-profit organisations, and for structural funds – with some relevance to energy issues.

Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic

Ministerstvo Životního Prostředí (MŽP)

The Ministry of the Environment co-ordinates the activities of all the Czech ministries and other central state administrative authorities in environmental matters. This activity includes securing funds for projects aimed at improving environmental quality, with some relevance to energy issues.

National research programme management agencies

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Technology Agency of the Czech Republic (TA CR)

Technologická Agentura ČR

Since 2011 the Technology Agency, a national government agency, has prepared and implemented programmes covering applied R&D and innovation in the transport, energy and environmental sectors, and managed the accompanying state funding.

Funding organisations at national level

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Czech Science Foundation (GA CR)

Grantová Agentura ČR (GA ČR)

The Czech Science Foundation is an independent legal entity that funds basic research. It controls the third-largest public R&D budget in the Czech Republic (after the two key research ministries) and supports predominantly public research institutions such as the universities and Institutes of the Academy of Sciences.