European Union and US agree to conduct joint energy research

By the OGJ Online Staff

LONDON, May 14 -- European Union Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin and US Energy Sec. Spencer Abraham Monday agreed to a joint research program into fossil energy and climate change, new energy sources, and energy efficiency.

The program is expected to develop joint standards, share R&D facilities, hold workshops, exchange and network experts, conduct joint technology studies, and coordinate research projects, the EU said.

"The signing of these agreements gives the right political signal and underlines the importance the EU attaches to securing safe and clean energy supplies for future generations," said Busquin. "The global challenges in the field of energy are such that a more systematic collaboration as well as learning from each other is becoming highly desirable, if not indispensable, for the sustainable development of our economies."

Busquin said the subjects covered by the agreement represent "major issues of mutual interest with a strong bearing on the security of energy supply, industrial competitiveness and sustainable development."

The cooperative deal foresees researchers and scientific organizations in EU member states and the US participating in one another's projects and exchanging information "in a more systematic way."

Busquin said a good fit exists between the EU's strengths in energy research into thermonuclear fusion and energy efficiency, and the US expertise in the areas of fossil fuels and CO2 emission research.

He said the European Commission's "main fields of interest" were fuel cell technology, hydrogen production technologies, solar energy, and biomass.

A steering group bringing together "two or three" delegates from each side will be set up to appoint technical advisors, and oversee development of the new cooperative deal. The EC will look to Directorate Generals of Research, Transport, and Energy and from the Joint Research Center to appoint its representatives.

The deal, along with a second cooperation agreement looking into nuclear fusion, covers two of 15 fields mentioned in a EU-US cooperation agreement signed in October 1998.

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