SET Plan’s estimated budget until 2020 is 71.5 billion euros.

What are the goals of the SET Plan and what is your evaluation of almost a decade of its operation?

The Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan is the technological pillar of EU’s energy and climate policy adopted by the EU in 2008. It is the first step towards a policy of energy technologies for Europe and the main tool of decision-making for the European energy policy.

It aims to

  • Accelerate the development of knowhow and technology transfer, improve new technologies and decrease costs by coordinating research and assistance in funding;
  • Preserve EU’s leading position in the field of low-carbon technologies;
  • Promote science focused on transition of energy technologies in order to achieve the energy & climate goals by 2020;
  • Contribute to the world-wide transition to low-carbon economy by 2050.

The SET-Plan promotes cooperation amongst EU countries, companies, research institutions, and the EU itself.

Parts of the SET Plan are the SET Plan Steering Group, European Industrial Initiatives (EII), the European Energy Research Alliance (ERRA) and the SET-Plan Information System.

SET Plan’s implementation was launched by the foundation of the EII, which connects industry, research bodies, Member States and the European Commission, public and private sectors in risk-sharing focused on fast development of key energy technologies on the European level. In parallel, the ERRA has worked since 2008 towards streamlining research & development activities in the individual research bodies with the needs and priorities of the SET Plan and towards creating a common programming frame within the EU. SET Plan’s estimated budget until 2020 is 71.5 billion euros.

Sun, wind, water, super grid (a common transmission network), smart grid and smart cities were part of the SET Plan at its outset. Nuclear energy was originally not part of it. It was let in together with biomass at the SET Plan meeting in Madrid in 2010.

After specifying the future scientific activities, research and innovations, the SET Plan has lately attracted the Commission’s attention. It is referenced to by several of the Commission’s documents and it has become the central element of EU’s science, research and innovation policy.

How is the SET Plan related to other tools for supporting research such as Horizon 2020? What is its added value?

As Horizon 2020’s focus and programmes were prepared, a SET Plan working group for the preparation of the energy research & development projects was created. Slovakia took actively part in the working group through its representative. Thanks to the cooperation with the Steering Group representatives from Slovakia, the Czech Republic and other countries, we managed to include in the research & development projects the issue of nuclear energy (ALLEGRO, safety and reliability of the operation and construction of nuclear installations) as well as the issue of reliability of transmission networks. After consultations and approval by the Steering Group, the document drafted by the working group was handed to the Horizon 2020 steering bodies.

What is the SET Plan’s meaning for Slovakia?

In order for the activities of the SET Plan, its steering bodies, various working groups and platforms to take effect, the Slovak Ministries of Economy and of Education, Science, Research and Sport have to be more active in informing and promoting the SET Plan in the industry and academia. They have to be more active in explaining its focus and goals as well as increase the activity of the representatives of academia and industry in these bodies. That can bring the benefit of participation in managing projects within the SET Plan or Horizon 2020 and in raising EU funds for these projects. It is necessary to raise awareness in other Member States of the Slovak energy research & development as well as of the industrial and innovation results.

Which EU country is the most active in the SET Plan?

Larger West-European Member States, mostly Germany, France and Italy are usually very active.

What is SET Plan’s fruit for Slovakia? Can you provide a concrete example of cooperation created thanks to the SET Plan?

Many important elements (Actions) of the SET Plan are not ready yet and the whole process will bring concrete benefit in a later period.

Which energy sector is the most interesting from Slovakia’s viewpoint? Nuclear energy, renewables or a different one?

From the viewpoint of Slovakia’s needs, we perceive as worthwhile the opportunity to cooperate on smart technologies, energy efficiency, reliability and safety of transmission networks and nuclear energy. However, the goals in nuclear energy have not been agreed yet by the SET Plan. Slovakia is a country, which lacks primary resources of coal, oil and gas, and so its energy potential is developed in the nuclear sector.

What is the representation in the SET Plan’s bodies?

Every country has representatives in the SET Plan – two to four. Slovakia has currently two – one delegated by the Education Ministry and the other from the industrial R&D sector.

What is the SET Plan’s mission?

Among others, SET Plan’s mission is to prepare the strategy for various means of power production in the EU and their development in the future.

How can the SET Plan be improved?

Within the SET Plan and in relation to the building of Energy Union, it would be appropriate to the produce an analysis on the current state of the European power network, so that qualified decisions can be taken by the SET Plan bodies in the future.

How do you see the future of energy?

New technologies appropriate for the future have to be always judged taking into account the whole life cycle. An expert evaluation is needed to find out what the new technology needs before operation, what the benefit is during the operation and what will be left of it after the operation. Such an evaluation must be very complex and must contain also all externalized costs during the whole life cycle – for example, land take, water consumption, employment, social impact, cultivation of nature and the needs of the associated ministries of health, education and social affairs.

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The project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 785277.