Strategic Energy Technologies Information System

The SET-PLAN roadmap on low carbon energy technologies

Seven roadmaps are proposed, built around a vision for the European energy system that by 2020 will have already embarkedon a transition to a low carbon economy. These roadmaps put forward concrete actionplans aimed at raising the maturity of the technologies to a level that willenable them to achieve large market shares during the period up to 2050. Themain sectoral targets are:

  • Up to 20% of the EU electricitywill be produced by wind energy technologiesby 2020.
  • Up to 15% of the EU electricitywill be generated by solar energy in2020. However if the DESERTEC vision is achieved, thecontribution of solar energy will be higher, especially in the longer term.
  • The electricity grid in Europe will beable to integrate up to 35% renewable electricity in a seamless way and operatealong the "smart" principle, effectively matching supply and demandby 2020.
  • At least 14% of the EU energymix will be from cost-competitive, sustainable bio-energy by 2020.
  • Carbon capture and storage technologieswill become cost-competitive within a carbon-pricing environment by 2020-2025.
  • While existing nucleartechnologies will continue to provide around 30% of EU electricity in the nextdecades, the first Generation-IV nuclearreactor prototypes will be in operation by 2020, allowing commercialdeployment by 2040.
  • 25 to 30 European cities will be at the forefront of the transition to a lowcarbon economy by 2020.

It is noted that there is no directlyquantifiable link between research expenditures and the value of the resultsobtained from research. However, as a pre-requisite for any cost-competitivedeployment of technologies, each roadmap presents the technology objectivesthat are critical for making each low carbon technology fully cost-competitive,more efficient and proven at the right scale for market roll-out. For thesetechnology areas, concrete research, development, demonstration and marketreplication activities, for which working together can make a difference in termsof maximizing the industrial and societal returns, have been identified. Theseactivities, to be implemented in the next 10 years, have been classified intothree main categories:

R&D programmes that include:

  • Basic and Applied research - This refersto both conceptual and more applied research carried out within researchcentres, universities, and (to a lesser degree) private sector institutions.
  • Pilot projects - This consists mainly ofinitial small scale trials of new technologies and developments straight out ofthe research laboratory. The results of this type of effort are proof oftechnological feasibility and assessment of subsystem and componentoperability.
  • Test facilities for materials,components, etc.
  • Demonstration programmes - This constitutesthe actual trial and large scale demonstration of technologies, and isparticularly relevant to prove the full-scale viability of the technology. Thisincludes measures for coordination, knowledge and information exchange, etc.
  • Market Replication measures - Thisrepresents the successful transfer of products from the demonstration stageinto first markets, addressing the 'valley of death' phenomenon.

In essence, the roadmaps call for anunprecedented European research, development and demonstration programme thatcomprises:

  • vigorous R&D programmes onmaterials; component design, development and testing in pilot plants; energyresource mapping; and development of planning, optimization and energymanagement tools, to remove the bottlenecks to competitiveness and tofacilitate the development for new generations of energy technologies
  • support researchinfrastructures, that include testing facilities for technology components,manufacturing of nuclear fuels, etc.
  • comprehensive demonstrationprogrammes that include demonstrators for all technologies, to bridge the gapand accelerate the transfer of technologies from research to market deployment
  • market replication measures todemonstrate the feasibility and gain experience on key concepts that willbecome the backbone of the future energy system, such as virtual power plantsto accommodate variable power, large scale photovoltaic systems in cities, andother energy efficiency measures.

This European research, development and demonstration programme onlow carbon energy technologies has been estimated by the Commission togetherwith the industry to cost between 58.5 to 71.5 billion euros over the next 10years, divided between the EIIs and the Smart Cities Initiative as shown in Table1. This should be shared between industry, the Member Statesand the European Commission. The partition of the cost for each EII may vary aswell as for the activities within each EII. Typically, R&D programmesshould have a prominent public and EU investment component, the demonstrationprogrammes should have a strong industrial drive, accompanied by publicsupport, both EU and national; and the market replication measures should havea large participation from industry.

Table 1: Cost estimates of theproposed SET-Plan EIIs and the Smart Cities Initiative

European Industrial Initiatives

Total (b€)

Wind Energy


Solar Energy (PV & CSP)




Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)

10.5 - 16.5

Electricity grid


Sustainable Nuclear Energy

5 - 10

Smart Cities

10 - 12


58.5 - 71.5

It is noted that although the cost of the electricitygrid EII is significantly lower than that of other EIIs, the issue ofintegrating distributed energy sources in the transmission and the distributionpower grid is addressed in the Wind and Solar EIIs, where activities with theirown budget have been planned.

In 2007, the total R&D public andcorporate investments for wind, solar (PV and CSP), carbon capture and storage,biofuels, smart grids and nuclear fission amounted to €2.23 billion in the EUSEC(2009)1296. €1.77 billion weredevoted to non-nuclear technologies and €0.46 billion to nuclear fission.