Home » TECHNOLOGY » Research and Development » R&D funding for wind energy » Support at EC level

Support at EC Level

Historically, research and development funding to wind energy and other renewable energy technologies has been a fraction of the funding to conventional energies. According to the IEA, over the period from 1974–2002, nuclear energy research financing was approximately three and a half times greater than that dedicated to renewable energy. The technology achievements in wind energy are even more impressive given that the sector has received a mere 1 per cent of energy research funding in the IEA countries in 1974-2002. In the same period, nuclear energy received 58 per cent, or $175 billion, and fossil fuels 13 per cent (see Figure 7.1). 

Figure 7.1: Total Energy R&D Shares in IEA Countries 1974-2002 (US$)

Figure 7.1: Total energy R&D shares in IEA countries 1974 to 2002, source EWEA

Source: Renewable Energy, Market and Policy Trends in IEA Countries, OECD/IEA (2004) in Prioritising Wind Energy Research: Strategic Research Agenda of the Wind Energy Sector, EWEA, July 2004


Energy research funding in the EU has decreased dramatically and is currently at one-fourth of the level in 1980, according to the European Commission. Furthermore, the dominant part of EU research funding continues to be allocated to nuclear energy. In its first review of EU energy policies, the IEA called for the EU to change its priorities:

'The current Framework Programme allocates €1.95 billion, or almost 40 of the energy funding, to nuclear fusion, a technology that is only expected to contribute past 2050. It will be important for the achievement of the EU climate change targets that this funding allocation is revised at the earliest possible opportunity, and that funding for non-nuclear energy research and development is increased significantly' (IEA in September 2008).

The EU FP7 Euratom programme allocates €1,947 million to nuclear fusion, €287 million to nuclear fission and €517 million to nuclear research activities of the Joint Research Centre (JRC). In total, EU nuclear energy research funding totals €2.75 billion over the five-year period 2007-2011 or €550 million per year.

Non-nuclear energy research under the EUs FP7 receives €2,300 million, over the seven-year period 2007-2013, or €460 million per year.

Over the next five years, the average annual EU research budget for energy will be €1,010 million, allocated as follows:

  • Nuclear energy research: €550 million (54 per cent)
  • Non-nuclear energy research: €460 million (46 per cent), of which approximately half is allocated to renewables and energy efficiency: €230 million (23 per cent)

How much of the EU non-nuclear energy research budget will go to wind energy is not earmarked, but as shown in Figure 7.3, wind energy received €25 million under FP5 and €32 million under FP6, or approximately 3 per cent of the total FP7 energy research budget.


In 2005, the European Commission’s Advisory Group on Energy released a report that demonstrated the full extent of the reduction in European Union funding for energy R&D through its Framework Programmes.

Regarding FP6, the Strategic Working Group of the Advisory Group on Energy pointed out:

'in face value terms, expenditure is now less than it was 25 years ago, in real-value terms it is very much less and as a percentage of the total Community R&D, it is roughly six times smaller'

Two years later, the Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan) was adopted. Again, it was pointed out that:

'Public and private energy research budgets in the EU have declined substantially since peaking in the 1980s in response to the energy price shocks. This has led to an accumulated under-investment in energy research capacities and infrastructures. If EU governments were investing today at the same rate as in 1980, the total EU public expenditure for the development of energy technologies would be four times the current level of investment of around EUR 2.5 billion per year.'

This state of facts is illustrated by Figure 7.2, showing that energy research funding as a percentage of all EU R&D funding has reduced from 66 per cent in FP1 to around 12 per cent in FP6, and 7 per cent in FP7.


Figure 7.2: Energy Spending in the Seven Framework Programmes


Source: Strategic Research Agenda: Market Deployment Strategy form 2008 to 2030, European Wind Trading Programme, July 2008 based on data from the European Commission, DG Research



Under FP6, EUR810 million was dedicated to R&D under the “Sustainable Energy Systems” chapter (EUR405 million to long-term R&D, administered by DG Research, and EUR405 million to short- to medium-term research, administered by DG TREN).This represented a reduction of some 20 per cent from FP5.

The name of the chapter or budget-line, 'Sustainable Energy Systems', engendered a lack of transparency in the funding process. The chapter included, for example, 'clean coal' technologies, focusing mainly on the sequestration of CO2. It also included hydrogen and fuel cells, which are not energy sources.

For FP7, the lack of transparency still remains. The EUR2.35 billion budget available for non-nuclear energy under the Cooperation programme includes the following chapters:

  • Hydrogen and fuel cells;
  • Renewable electricity generation;
  • Renewable fuel production;
  • Renewables for heating and cooling;
  • CO2 capture and storage technologies for zero emission power generation;
  • Clean coal technologies;
  • Smart energy networks;
  • Energy efficiency and savings; and
  • Knowledge for energy policy making.

In 2007 the budget committed to projects was approximately EUR 0.32 billion.


The European Commission has provided an analysis of the evolution of the R&D budget over FP5 and FP6. Comparison between FP5 & FP6 is provided in Figure 7.2 on three main aspects:

  • Large size wind turbines;
  • Integration and management of wind power; and
  • Wind farm development and management.

Due to two integrated projects (DOWNWIND and UpWind), the average project size increased significantly between FP5 and FP6. The EC contribution also increased by 27, per cent and reached EUR 31.59 million, an average of EUR7 million/year – one tenth of TPWind requirements.


Figure 7.3: EC funding levels in FP5 and FP6

Figure 7.3 EC funding levels in FP5 and FP, source: European Commission

Source: European Commission, DG Research

<< R&D funding for wind energy Support for wind R&D at MemberStatelevel >>
  Acknowledgements | Sitemap | Partners | Disclaimer | Contact

coordinated by


supported by

Intelligent Energy Europ

The sole responsibility for the content of this webpage lies with the authors. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Communities. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that maybe made of the information contained therein.