R & D
Together with the boom of the solar industry in Europe, the research and development activities were also intensified. The European research landscape and its research clusters are worldwide leading and dispose over a technological advance of more than one year compared to international competitors. Regardless if it is the augmentation of the modules efficiency or new innovative materials to reduce production costs: a great deal of those developments is the result of European research laboratories. This also applies for manufacturing machines and equipment, which are used worldwide.
The most important European research establishments are organized within the European Renewable Energy Research Centres Agency (EUREC). EUREC Agency, created in 1991, is a Brussels-based European association connecting the leading research centres and university departments active in the field of renewable energy technology. The goal of this association is to create a tight connection of political decision-makers, researcher, companies, and public authorities to strengthen the research landscape and to expand the technological advance.
The European Union campaigns for the support of renewable energies already since many years. Since 2007 at least 1 billion euros per year were spent for research in renewable energy technologies. At present the EU invests approximately 3 billion Euros in research of renewable energies with a special focus on photovoltaic. This amount shall be raised up to 8 billion Euros per year so that within the next ten years about 50 billion Euros will be placed at disposal for this sector.
The European Renewable Energy Research Centres Agency (EUREC) is a Brussels-based European association connecting the leading research centres and university departments active in the field of renewable energy technology. The 50 members of EUREC are the biggest European research institutes; however there are many more smaller research centres in the EU engaged in research on renewable energy sources.
Well known for conducting research in the sector of renewable energies is for example the Energy Research Center of the Netherlands (ECN). ECN works on solar heat, photovoltaic, wind energy and biomass. ECN is the coordinator of the Joint Programme on Photovoltaic Solar Energy implemented by the European Energy Research Alliance (EERA) in support of the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) plan.
The Fraunhofer-Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) is another important independent institute in the sector of photovoltaics in Europe which is self-financed by research assignments. Fraunhofer leads research on materials, components, systems and processes in the business area of energy efficient building and building technology, applied optics, silicon-photovolaics, alternative photovoltaic-technologies and regenerative power supply amongst others.