Energy Research Knowledge Centre


Research themes and prioritisation


The overarching programming instrument of the Spanish science and technology system is the National Strategy for Science and Technology (ENCYT). The ENCYT is implemented through a series of National Plans for Research, Development and Technological Innovation.

One of the strategic challenges of the recent National Plan for Scientific Research, Development and Technological Innovation (2013–2016) is the implementation of a sustainable, efficient and clean national energy system. Strategic areas for energy research are: renewable energies, nuclear energy, CCS, energy efficiency, smart grids, hydrogen and fuel cells.

Organisation of research


The main player in Spain’s R&D and innovation policies is the new State Secretariat for Research, Development and Innovation (SEIDI), belonging to the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO) and the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism (MITYC).

R&D is conducted by research institutions, universities, technology centres and private enterprises. The government funds several public research institutions which focus on applied research and pilot and demonstration projects, and these institutions often also receive private-sector funding. Three of the primary institutions are the Centre for Energy, Environment and Technological Research (CIEMAT), the National Renewable Energy Centre (CENER) and the Energy City Foundation (CIUDEN).

Spain has a quasi-federal decentralised political system which is also reflected in its R&D and innovation-related policies. There is no clear division of responsibility between national and regional administrative levels, since nowadays most regions have similar R&D plans and on both administrative levels there coexist a large number of programmes and agencies.

More than 40 entities (mostly start-ups with funding from the EU SAVE programme) are working to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy projects at regional, provincial and local levels, mainly in the areas of demonstration and dissemination. These organisations form the link between local initiatives and national research and technology centres such as CIEMAT.

Figure 1. Organisational structure of energy research in Spain

Programmes and budgets


Budget overview

Public funding covers the energy R&D path from basic and applied research to pilot and demonstration projects and to facilitating market entry.

Before the current recession, public spending on energy R&D has increased year on year, reaching €87 million in 2008. As part of the government spending cuts, energy R&D spending then fell by 25 %, to €64 million in 2011. Out of that total, €30 million was spent on nuclear power (47 % of the total budget), €26 million on renewable energy projects (41 %) and €2.5 million on energy efficiency (4 %). The rest was spent on fossil fuels, energy storage and other areas. Within the renewable energy group, solar energy projects have received the largest part of the budget.

Table 1: The main energy research programmes in Spain

Programmes and initiatives

The National Strategic Consortia for Technical Research

Consorcios Estratégicos Nacionales en Investigación Tecnológica (CENIT)

The National Strategic Consortia for Technical Research (CENIT) is one of the main energy-related R&D programmes running under the national framework programme INGENIO 2010. CENIT includes energy research through topics such as design and production technologies; environment, sustainable development and renewable energies; new materials and nanotechnology; aerospace; and sustainable mobility (cars and railways). Between 2006 and 2010, 91 projects received €1 071 million in grants, for a total investment of €2 298 million. The budget related to energy was €386.8 million.

National govermment departments


Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO) – State Secretariat for Research, Development and Innovation

Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (MINECO) – Secretaría de Estado de Investigación, Desarrollo e Innovación

This ministry aims to develop the scientific foundation for policies and strategies aimed at sustainable development of the environment and mitigating the impacts of climate change. The State Secretariat for Research, Development and Innovation is responsible for policies affecting scientific and technical research, development and innovation, including the management of international relations.

Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism (MITYC)

Ministerio de Industria, Energía y Turismo (MITYC)

The mission of the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Commerce is to develop competitiveness by facilitating energy security at least cost; stimulating domestic and international commerce, cutting-edge technology and communications; and supporting fair competition and research, applying the results to increase economic activity.

National research programme management agencies


Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT)

Fundación Española para la Ciencia y la Tecnología (FECYT)

FECYT is a public corporate entity forming part of the Ministry for Economy and Competitiveness. It disseminates and promotes science and innovation through its National Programme of Scientific Culture and Innovation. FECYT also aims to integrate metrics of scientific research, innovation and technological development to create information which adds value and drives the transfer of knowledge in the business arena. It is the implementing agency for most national and international plans involving enterprises.

Centre for Energy, Environment and Technological Research (CIEMAT)

Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas, Medioambientales y Tecnológicas (CIEMAT)

CIEMAT belongs to the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. Its research covers fission, fusion, fossil fuels and renewables, including the environmental impacts of each.

National Renewable Energy Centre (CENER)

Centro Nacional de Energías Renovables (CENER)

CENER was founded by the Navarre regional government and the national government. It carries out applied research and technology transfer in wind energy, biomass, solar PV, solar thermal, renewable energy grid integration, and energy in buildings.

Energy City Foundation (CIUDEN)

Fundación Ciudad de la Energía (CIUDEN)

CIUDEN was founded in 2006 by the Spanish government. It carries out R&D on clean coal technologies. Together with national and international partners, CIUDEN is constructing a demonstration plant for carbon capture with oxy-fuel combustion.

Centre for Industrial Technological Development (CDTI)

Centro para el Desarrollo Tecnológico Industrial (CDTI)

CDTI is a public entity, under the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, which fosters technological development and innovation in Spanish companies.

Agency for Innovation and Development (IDEA)

Agencia de Innovación y Desarrollo de Andalucía (IDEA)

IDEA is the regional development agency of Andalusia, and belongs to the Regional Ministry of Economy, Innovation and Science. It is responsible for promoting energy efficiency and the increased use of renewable energy in Spain.