On 19th January, 65 participants from across Europe came together to discuss the opportunities that the SET Plan and the Clean Energy Transition (CET) hold for the European countries that become actively involved. Alternatives to further integrate EU13 countries and facilitate communication and information exchange were also debated.
The European Union has set an ambitious target for the decarbonisation of the European energy system by 2050. This breakthrough decision opens up new opportunities for innovative, cross-sectoral activities and stimulates solution-oriented approaches. Nevertheless, a successful Clean Energy Transition can only be achieved through collaboration and innovation in energy research from all European member states.
In this light, the Implementation Working Group Deep Geothermal Support Unit, SUPEERA, and EERA aisbl jointly addressed this issue by giving the representatives of the EU13 countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia) and Greece and Portugal, the opportunity to gain more knowledge about the initiatives favouring their countries' institutions. Also, ways to strengthen the cooperation in the EU were brought forward.
The webinar highlighted the importance of the SET Plan and the CET, the crucial role of all European countries' involvement, and the need to align national and regional strategies with the European plans for a carbon-free society.
The event kickstarted by presenting the current involvement of the EU13 countries in the SET Plan and the CET. In this regard, three aspects were highlighted:
With the purpose of addressing the previous point, funding opportunities favouring the EU13 countries (and Greece and Portugal) were introduced. Representatives of research institutions and universities were informed about the EU's Widening initiative, the EEA and Norwegian grants and the Just Transition Founds. Moreover, success stories in the voice of EU13 institutions were portrayed to illustrate that participation in funded projects is often the starting point of new and fruitful initiatives.
To conclude, the webinar focused on cooperation and networking opportunities that facilitate participation in European consortia and winning projects and enable exchange between organisations on administrative issues. Specifically, the EIRIE platform was introduced to the participants, while the benefits of participating in the European Energy Research Alliance (EERA) were highlighted.
The key question that permeated the discussions was how to bring more active researchers from EU13 countries closer to the SET Plan and the CET community? One of the clear answers that emerged was the organisation of informative and participatory instances in the country concerned, where national research institutions and universities could learn first-hand about the opportunities these initiatives open up.
In this respect, the SUPEERA project, led by EERA, has planned several workshops throughout 2022 and the first half of 2023 that will take experts to different EU13 countries. The goal of these encounters will be to provide information on the SET Plan, share opportunities and funding possibilities, and enable open discussions about the CET, its challenges, and potential impact on economic, societal and environmental aspects.
The next joint meetings of this type will take place in Bulgaria and in Riga in April, and on Cyprus in May. SUPEERA is currently looking for national research centres and universities interested in co-organising such an initiative in the mentioned countries.