Europe has entered a new energy era. Global demand for energy is increasing within a framework of high and unstable energy prices. Emissions of greenhouse gases are rising. Reserves of oil and gas are concentrated in a few supplier countries. Against this backdrop, it is clear that the European Union and the rest of the world have not reacted quickly enough to increase the use of low-carbon energy technologies or to improve energy efficiency. As a consequence, climate change has become a real threat and security of energy supply is worsening.
The Commission stressed the need for the European Union to act together to deliver sustainable, secure and competitive energy An Energy Policy for Europe (COM(2007)1). This new policy advocates for an accelerated sift to low-carbon energy, for which energy technologies will be driving the industrial revolution to de-carbonise the energy system.
The aim of the SET-Plan (COM(2007) 723 final of 22 November 2007) is to accelerate the market introduction and take up of low-carbon and efficient energy technologies. The strategic element of the plan will be to identify those technologies for which it is essential that the European Union as a whole works in an integrated manner, for instance working in result-oriented actions based on strong coalitions of Member States, or in public-private partnerships with the industry.
The Communication 'Towards a European Strategic Energy Technology Plan' (SET-Plan) (COM (2006)847) established the basis for the preparation of such a plan. As part of the preparation of a credible and widely supported SET-Plan a widespread consultation with all relevant stakeholders took place in 2007. Its purpose was to agree a shared European vision on the role that technology could play in a sustainable energy future. Respondents to this public consultation were invited to read the above Communication before completing the questionnaire.
To steer the implementation of the SET-Plan, reinforcing the coherence between national, European and international efforts, in early 2008 the established a Steering Group on Strategic Energy Technologies. The Group, chaired by the Commission, is composed of high level government representatives from Member States. The mandate of the group will be to conceive joint actions, through coordinating policies and programmes, make resources available and monitor and review progress in a systematic manner, fully geared towards reaching our common objectives.