Energy is key to our society , and the competitiveness of the EU industry and the quality of life of European citizens are today inconceivable without affordable, and reliable energy. A radical transformation is underway in the way energy is produced and used to fulfil societal needs. Low-carbon technologies including clean renewables gradually replace fossil fuels. Wind turbines generate power onshore and offshore. The sunlight is converted into electricity and heat by increasingly efficient photovoltaic cells, and solar thermal energy technologies are capable of providing renewable heating and electricity when needed. Once deployment at commercial scale of ocean energy would be demonstrated it will kick-start market deployment and drive down costs. Furthermore, the high capacity factor and flexibility of geothermal energy make it an attractive option for the EU's energy mix along with biofuels that now can be produced from waste-to-energy valorification, supporting the circular economy as well.
Consumers, empowered by numerous innovations, start to influence our energy system and other measures such as increased energy storage capacity, strengthened interconnections and smart grids will provide cutting edge solutions that significantly increase the flexibility and resilience of the EU energy system and cities’ overall energy and resource efficiency. The transformation of the energy system has substantial impacts on all economic activities, including the European industry. The future of European industry will depend on its ability to compete in a global environment, by continuously adapting and innovating through investments in new technologies and embracing changes brought on by increased digitisation and the transition to low-carbon and circular economy. Mobility and transport affect directly all European citizens. To this regard, the European Commission aims at promoting efficient, sustainable, safe, secure and environmentally friendly mobility, and making traffic safer, encourage fairer road charging, reduce CO2 emissions, air pollution and congestion. The long-term benefits of these measures will extend far beyond the transport sector by promoting jobs, growth and investment, strengthening social fairness, widening consumers' choices and firmly putting Europe on the path towards low-carbon energy system.
Ten years ago, the European Commission proposed an ambitious strategy to "Europeanise" energy policies across the EU; this gave birth to the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan in 2007. In this special edition we have endeavoured to look back at 10 years of forward thinking of SET Plan. We are very grateful to the contributors for taking time to give their perspectives and opinions of the 1st decade of the SET Plan, and we look forward to the next 10 years.
Stathis D. PETEVES, JRC HoU for Knowledge for the Energy Union
Andreea STRACHINESCU, DG Energy, HoU for New energy technologies, innovation and clean coal
Gwennaël JOLIFF-BOTREL, DG Research & Innovation- Energy Directorate HoU for Strategy