Energy and the Smart Specialisation Platform on Energy (S3PEnergy)
Energy is a topic with high interest amongst the Member States and regions registered in the S3 Platform. These strategies set priorities at national and regional levels to build competitive advantage by developing and matching research and innovation (R&I) own strengths with business needs, to address emerging opportunities and market developments in a coherent manner, while avoiding duplication and fragmentation of efforts. They may take the form of, or are included in, a national or a regional R&I strategic policy framework. In this context, there is an emerging need to align innovation roadmaps across European policies and territories. There is also an upcoming challenge in accompanying the implementation of innovation strategies with the appropriate methodological development and related tools, with regard namely to benchmarking, trans-national cooperation and mutual learning.
The Smart Specialisation Platform on Energy (S3PEnergy) is the space where MS, regions and community members receive support for the optimal and effective uptake of Cohesion Funds for sustainable energy.
Energy in Cohesion Policy
The S3PEnergy is addressing energy issues as part of the European efforts to achieve a shared vision on knowledge-based energy policy in regions. Activities initiated at local or regional level should be developed in a more coherent manner: although they rely on local potential, they have to be also consistent with EU broad energy policy objectives. The goal is to better align local and regional activities through the identification of the technologies and innovative solutions that contribute to the EU energy policy priorities. These priorities include sustainability, competitiveness and security of supply.
Novel Funding Opportunities
During the programming period 2014–2020, EU Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) play an essential role in promoting innovation in the field of energy, developing ICT applications in the field of energy, supporting SMEs and boosting the shift towards a low-carbon economy in all sectors. Around € 40 billion will be allocated by ESIF to these objectives in the energy field. They include interventions in energy efficiency, renewable energy, smart distribution grids and sustainable urban mobility, as well as R&I in these areas, in complementarity with Horizon 2020.
Cohesion Policy is thus making an increasingly important contribution towards EU challenges for clean, efficient and secure supply of energy. The allocated amounts for low-carbon economy represent more than a doubling of funding compared to the previous programming period. Although Cohesion Policy funds will offer significant opportunities, their substantial extension will also represent an important challenge in terms of the readiness in the Member States and regions for their uptake. The absorption capacity of regions will become an issue. Moreover, the combination of Cohesion Policy funds with research financing, like Horizon 2020, will require learning and creative thinking. Finally, it is important to make sure that EU funding will leverage additional national public and private co-financing.
A European Energy Union will ensure secure, affordable and climate-friendly energy for citizens and businesses. Using energy more wisely and fighting climate change is not only an investment in our children's future, it will also create new jobs and growth. Important groundwork has already been done: we have a policy framework for energy and climate for 2030, an energy security strategy is in place, and an integrated energy market for all EU countries is closer than ever before.
What is the S3PEnergy about?
The S3PEnergy is a joint initiative of DGs REGIO, ENER and JRC oriented to assist Member States and regions towards an effective implementation of their S3 related to the energy sector.
The main objective of the S3PEnergy platform is to support the effective uptake of the Cohesion Policy funds for energy as well as to support the implementation of the smart specialisation strategies, in particular as regards energy innovation activities at (sub)national, regional and local level.
- Support the implementation of the smart specialisation strategies of those regions/countries that have chosen energy-related priorities in their S3.
- Assist countries in the uptake of the Cohesion policy funding opportunities for energy under thematic objectives 4 and 7;
The S3PEnergy will contribute the EU energy policy priorities by facilitating partnerships between EU regions that have identified renewable energy technologies and innovative energy solutions as their smart specialisation priorities and by promoting alignment between local, regional, national and European activities on energy sustainability, competitiveness and security of supply.
The S3PEnergy is addressing energy issues as part of the European efforts to achieve a shared vision on knowledge-based energy policy in regions and to encourage the financing of viable investments in Europe in line with the EU's Energy Union strategy and the EU Plan in strategic investments in jobs and growth, the latter to be realised through the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). Numerous activities foreseen in the EU's Energy Union five dimensions including a fully-integrated internal energy market, supply security, energy efficiency, emissions' reduction and research and innovation in low-carbon technologies need to be put in practice at local or regional level. Despite these activities rely on local potential they need to be also consistent with EU broad energy policy objectives; therefore the S3PEnergy will step-in to assure the developments in a coherent manner.
The ultimate objective of the S3PEnergy is to contribute to the shift towards a low carbon economy by 2050 and to respond to some of the societal challenges identified in the EU 2020 Strategy. The EU has set out plans for a new climate and energy policy framework. Europe is determined to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 % by 2030 compared to 1990. Respectively, it has committed itself to achieve at least 27 % share of renewables. Hence, there is a clear link between innovation and the EU's energy and climate targets.
Who is involved in S3PEnergy?
The activities are being carried out by JRC (Directorates B in Seville and C in Petten), in close collaboration with DG REGIO and DG ENER.
The S3PEnergy supports policy-makers, authorities and stakeholders involved in energy and R&I policies and Cohesion Policy funding.
The work further allow DGs JRC, REGIO and ENER to be better informed of the developments and challenges in the MS and regions.
Which activities are promoted by the S3PEnergy?
The S3PEnergy collaborates with interested regions and MS to: (i) analyse current energy priorities and policies, and (ii) identify good practices and roadmaps for bottom-up transregional and transnational cooperation.
The subsequent goal is to set up a strategic agenda of collaborative framework which will accelerate the development and deployment of innovative low carbon technologies. The Platform tasks are to prepare thematic papers and carry out active outreach activities, to build and disseminate knowledge to MS, regions and other interested stakeholders on the possibilities for investing in energy projects from the Cohesion Policy funds. It also supports the identification of common challenges and the establishing of solutions (including by sharing good practices).
The main tasks of the S3PEnergy are divided into the following work packages:
The S3PEnergy promotes cooperation not only within regions, but also between regions. Proactive 'match-making' is provided to MS and regions that have planned investments in energy innovation.
In this context, the S3PEnergy is currently supporting the regions that share similar/complementary energy priorities in their S3 strategies to mobilize concrete investment projects by facilitating the creation of "S3 Energy Partnerships" that offer interactive and participatory arenas for interregional cooperation. The S3PEnergy collaboration helps regions to combine complementary strengths, exploit their competences in R&I, build-up necessary research capacities, overcome the lack of critical mass and fragmentation, gain better access to the global value chains, and as foster partnerships and/or co-investment.
Thematic seminars and guidance materials reinforce the cooperation between MS and regions, strengthen regional/local capacities, and increase the impact of their activities.
Policy brief Juan Pablo Jiménez, Andreas Uihlein