Strategic Energy Technologies Information System

European Energy Research Alliance (EERA)

Overall objective

To accelerate the development of new energy technologies in support of the SET-Plan by strengthening, expanding and optimising EU energy research capabilities through the joint realisation of pan-European programmes and the sharing of world-class national facilities in Europe, drawing upon results from fundamental research in order to mature technologies to the point where it can be embedded in industry-driven research.

Technology innovation objectives

Achieving Europe's 2020 targets on greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy and energy efficiency will require the deployment of more efficient and less costly technologies, available today at large but unattractive to the market. If the 2050 vision for complete decarbonisation in the EU is to be seized, actions to develop new energy technologies, through major breakthroughs and to advance these through the innovation chain to the market must be better organised, reinforced and carried out more efficiently. The objectives of the EERA are to:

  1. Increase energy efficiency and emission reduction potential - by focussing on medium to long term research questions, enabling the required system change and avoiding technological lock through incremental innovation.
  2. Decrease costs and time to market- by aligning national and European R&D programmes resulting in an increase in the efficiency of the research programmes by decreasing fragmentation and redundancy as well as sharing of world-class research facilities through the joint realisation of pan-European research programmes.


The actions of the EERA comprise two levels: (1) Joint Programming and (2) linking the EERA programmes to other existing and emerging initiatives.

  • Wind Energy: The Joint Programme for Wind Energy will be divided into four main areas: aerodynamics, wind conditions, offshore wind farms and electrical integration. The programme will focus on optimising and up-scaling large offshore turbines, where incremental scaling up of current concepts and technology leaps will lead to more cost efficient wind turbines.
  • PV: Six priority themes have been identified as a starting point for a Joint Programme: silicon materials, organic PV, module technology, transparent conductive oxides (TCO), large area deposition and interfaces and education and training. Other topics will be added once the programme is advanced such as novel absorber materials for thin films, reliability of components (i.e. ageing models), BIPV and thin film optics.
  • CCS: Within the CCS Joint Programme, a distinction is made between CO2 capture (oxy-combustion, pre-combustion, post-combustion) and storage. Within separation techniques for pre-combustion and oxyfuel, activities will initially focus on oxygen transport, sorbents (including high temperature sulphur removal), hydrogen separation membranes and sorption-enhanced reforming. The activities for oxy-combustion technologies will at first instance focus on oxyfuel boilers, CO2 processing for specific oxy-fuel, material selection for oxy-fuel, gas turbine development and separation technologies, where process simulation and emissions from a capture unit will be handled as cross cutting issues. Research activities focussing on storage as well as pre-combustion are yet to be identified.
  • Biofuels: Within the field of bio energy, a large number of actors are involved at different parts of various value chains, stressing the need for coordination of (pre-competitive) research. First research topics yet to be detailed, relate with biomass resources, combining thermochemical and biochemical conversion pathways.
  • CSP: Whilst yet large demonstrations of CSP plants are foreseen, the main challenge for research lies in the development of the second generation technologies. Pre-selected topics include (high temperature) thermochemistry (CO2 splitting), power generation and desalination, thermal storage, accelerated ageing and engines (e.g. dish Stirling technology).
  • Geothermal energy: Main areas that will serve as starting point for the joint activities are reservoir exploitation, reservoir accessing and engineering, thermal water looping and efficiency of the geothermal power, heat and/or chill.
  • Materials for nuclear energy: The activities will focus on structural materials for Generation IV reactors. High-chromium-steels, refractory alloys and ceramics/composites were identified as priority areas to undertake joint activities in the field of material development and screening, characterisation, fabrication, pre-normative research and modelling, simulation and experimental validation.
  • Other areas; For smart grids, fuel cells and marine energy, preparatory steps to develop a Joint Programme have been undertaken. Tentatively, the programme for smart grids will be centred on transmission, distribution and horizontal issues.


Key performance indicators

Joint programming

·      No. of joint programmes

·      No.of scientists involved

·      No.of research institutes involved

·      total budget of the programme by funding category

·      No.of patents

·      No.of cooperative schemes with EIT/KIC

·      No.programmes/activities with US, Japan etc.

  1. Joint programming - Joint Programmes will be launched for several areas such as wind, PV, CSP, CCS, materials for nuclear energy, geothermal, smart grids, marine energy, biofuels etc. These areas are in line with the selected SET-Plan technologies and comprise the majority of the Alliance's current activities portfolio. As such, these have been identified as the most potent for joint programming. Initially, the activities of EERA will be based on the alignment of its own resources to meet a critical mass for a substantial programme undertaking. Over time, alignment with EU programmes can be achieved and the Joint Programmes expanded with additional sources, including from Community programmes. It is expected that the first Joint Programmes will be launched by the end of 2009. Ongoing deliberations by the Alliance members and in consultation with the relevant experts in the broader research community have preliminarily concluded on the following programmes:
  2. Develop links and sustained partnerships with existing and emerging initiatives
    The EERA aims to accelerate the development of new energy technologies by building upon the results of fundamental research and maturing technology development to a stage where it can be embedded in industry driven research. Therefore, close links with both industry driven research as well as fundamental research are key elements in the success of the EERA.
    1. Link to industry and industry driven research. Both on the level of Joint Programmes (e.g. Wind, PV, CSP etc.) as well as on the level of sub-programmes (i.e. aerodynamics within the Wind Joint Programme), the EERA aims to contribute to and complement the emerging EIIs as it may be necessary and mutually reinforcing the SET-Plan drive. In addition, the EERA will consider and build upon the Strategic Research Agendas (SRA) as developed in various Technology Platforms.
    2. Link to universities and fundamental research. Both at national and EU-level, the EERA aims to connect with fundamental research as well as educational aspects. The European University Association (EUA), currently associated with the Alliance, has already created a platform to enable participation of universities in the EERA activities. In addition, EERA intends to develop a close link to the emerging European Institute of Technology (EIT) and their Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs).
    3. Cooperation with non-EU leading research institutes. Key technologies that are needed to meet the challenges with respect to climate change and security of supply have a global scale for deployment. In the pre-commercial phase where the EERA is focussing on, cooperation with leading research institutes from e.g. the USA and Japan, can further accelerate the required technology development. EERA has already started building up relationships with some national laboratories in the USA and aims to further expand and strengthen this relationship both with research institutes from the USA as well as Japan.
    4. Collaboration with the SET-Plan Information System (SETIS). In setting the right research priorities and monitoring the development of progress (efficiency, costs) cooperation with SETIS is crucial. Discussions to streamline the cooperation are developing positively.

     Indicative Costs (2010 - 2020)

    Preliminary estimates by the Alliance to undertake and sustain the necessary joint programmes addressing the technologies of today, to better these for market take-up and innovate for the technologies of tomorrow show that an additional investment of about 500 million euros per year is required to complement the activities based on Member State funding.

    Indicative Key Performance Indicators (KPI)

    There envisaged two set KPIs, to address the progress and success of joint programming for energy technology innovation, the effectiveness of the EERA links with industrial driven research, i.e. alignment with these of the Industrial Initiatives as well as fundamental research and with international RTD efforts. The identification of and formulation of the various KPIs will be addressed soon with the assistance of the SET-Plan Information System (SETIS). An example of the foreseen KPIs for Joint Programming is given below.