The European Commission is betting on disruptive clean technologies to give the EU a competitive edge, as part of its energy and climate “winter package”.
A draft innovation strategy seen by Climate Home ahead of its official launch on Wednesday prioritised a more open and accessible power system.
“The transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy will require a more decentralised, open system with the involvement of all society,” said the Commission paper.
“The energy system has traditionally been marked by the dominance of large companies, incumbents and large-scale, centralised technological projects. But in future the consumer has to be at the centre of the energy system.”
It is earmarking more than €2 billion for research into energy storage, electrified transport, nearly-zero energy buildings and integrating renewables, under the Horizon 2020 programme for 2018-20.
That represents a 35% annual budget increase on 2014-15 funding levels, according to the draft.
A separate €5-10m prize will reward breakthroughs in artificial photosynthesis, nearly-zero energy building design, community-based energy trading and social innovation in energy or transport for cities.
“We are seeing a moment of political caution in Europe,” he said. “But it is elements like the clean energy innovation strategy that are trying to put in place the upstream research and development structure to not only meet the targets but overachieve them.
“If this succeeds, it should cause quite radical disruption in the market.”