EU should help businesses grasp renewable energy innovation funds

29 September 2010 13:50  [Source: ICIS news]

BRUSSELS (ICIS)--The European Commission and Parliament need to make it easier for businesses to understand the funds available for renewable energy innovation and technology, a general manager for silicon producer Dow Corning said on Wednesday.

Speaking during a roundtable debate at the Parliament, Jean-Marc Gilson, general manager of speciality chemicals for Dow Corning, called for the EU institutions to “make life easier for us so that we can work 100% faster” in deciding which projects to back and in getting them off the ground.

Gilson suggested the idea of a “one-stop shop” where industry could easily find out which funds – from subsidies to tax incentives - were available for innovation in the renewables sector.

He compared the confusion that reigns in Europe, and certain states in the US, with Asia, where he said that administrations “bend over backwards to give investment -asking what we need and what we want”.

“It would be fantastic to have a European hub [for investment information],” said Gilson. “We don’t want to see the difficulties.”

Jorge Nunez, research fellow at the Brussels-based think-tank the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), said the EU had recently produced two books which explained all the funds that could be used by cities, and urged the Commission to do the same exercise for energy.

Stefan Tostmann, head of unit for energy technologies and research coordination in the Commission’s DGEnergy, said he agreed with the idea of a “one-stop shop” for such information, adding that now was a good time to have such a discussion ahead of debates on how to fund the EU after 2013, when the next financial perspectives begin.

Gilson insisted that there also needed to be a discussion on how to ensure that results gained from EU-funded research programmes were then funnelled back into EU industry, and to ensure that there was a sufficiently trained workforce to implement new technology.

He said that these considerations were all key to making sure that the EU stays at the fore-front in renewable energy, which he said was “vital to both economic recovery and environmental protection”.

Dow Corning on Tuesday unveiled plans for a $13m (€9.6m) investment in a European Solar Energy Exploration and Development Centre (SEED) to expand its capability to innovate with silicon-based materials and technologies at its European headquarters in Seneffe, Belgium.

($1 = €0.74)

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By: Philippa Jones
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