The energy sector relies on innovation to solve the problems of today and tomorrow and to open up new opportunities. In the gas sector, there is particular innovation potential in turning excess power from variable renewable sources into synthetic methane, in increasing the efficiency of gas-fired power stations when they are used flexibly to back up electricity from variable renewables, and in carbon capture and storage. Whilst research and development programmes should follow the EU’s energy and climate objectives, they should be technology-neutral to ensure that no opportunity is missed. There should be a clear distinction between support for non-mature technologies to develop their potential and State aid for mature technologies to penetrate the market.
In the area of energy, this EU framework programme for research and innovation has a strong potential to support the EU in realising a secure and competitive low-carbon energy system. Horizon 2020 can provide the financial and other support necessary to launch research on what will become marketable solutions. It is important that the approach is technology-neutral and open to the opportunities borne by all promising technologies.
Projects in Europe and around the world have shown that it can be safe, efficient and economic to inject carbon dioxide back into the earth’s crust from where the carbon came as part of a fossil fuel. CCS is a major opportunity for the EU to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the longer term, along with the further development of renewable energy sources. High costs, a low carbon price under the Emissions Trading System and investor uncertainty due to slow implementation of the CCS Directive in the Member States are currently preventing an environment in which CCS is a true option.