STOA Secretariat, European Parliament
STOA mainly carries out projects that assess the impact of introducing or promoting new technologies, and identify the best possible options for action, from a technological point of view. In 2012, STOA continued its activities on the main topics of: - Eco-efficient transport - Sustainable management of natural resources - Security of the Internet, including e-Government, cloud computing and social networks - Health In addition, STOA also runs several activities on science policy. Of the thirteen ongoing projects, six were completed and published in 2012. In each case STOA published the final report and an Options Brief succinctly summarising in 2-4 pages the policy options identified. Four new prominent projects launched in 2012 are: - STOA-Project: Potential and Impacts of Cloud Computing and Social Network Sites - Methanol: a future transport fuel based on hydrogen and carbon dioxide? - Science Metrics: Measuring scientific performance for improved policymaking - Technology options for feeding 10 billion people. Fourteen workshops were organised, covering a wide variety of domains. Highlights amongst the workshops included: - The Science of Innovation & research management - Ethical issues of human enhancement - Digestive and liver diseases: a priority for Europe - Precision agriculture and optimised use of fertilisers STOA aims towards a closer collaboration between the scientific community and policy-makers. In theory, such collaboration should work well: with scientists producing evidence that policy-makers use for decision-making; in return, policy-makers provide scientists with requirements and resources for research. However, in practice more efforts are needed to ensure that the scientific projects are carried out according to the highest quality standards and their results inform policy-making in a meaningful way. Based upon these reflections, efforts were made to publish the outcomes of STOA events in scientific articles,
This project has been carried out by the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) as a member of the European Technology Assessment Group (ETAG). PROJECT LEADER :Jens Schippl, ITAS AUTHORS: Jens Schippl, ITAS, KIT; Maike Puhe, ITAS, KIT
Urban transport is related to a wide range of unsolved problems and challenges that need to be tackled in order to guarantee a high quality of life in European cities and to make the transport system an even more efficient pillar of the European economies. This final report highlights relevant aspects and pathways for a transition to a more sustainable urban transport system. For this purpose, relevant technologies and the factors influencing end-user behaviour were analysed, as well as the interrelations between them. The transport system is understood as a socio-technical system of five key elements: paradigms and visions, mobility patterns, technologies and infrastructures, business models, and transport policies. In this report it is illustrated that changes in all elements of the transport system are taking place: - On the one hand, a broad range of innovative technologies and concepts to achieve sustainable urban transport are emerging or are already used. - On the other hand, the paradigm of sustainable transport is about to dominate transport planning in many urban areas and at different governmental levels – which has by far not always been like this. Further there is evidence that travel behaviour is not as static as it seems, but rather changes over time. In several countries, the travel behaviour of some societal groups is evidently changing. All of the five elements offer pathways to sustainable urban transport. Nevertheless, successful pathways do not only require new developments in one of these elements, but in several or in all of them, and at the same time. Against this background it is essential that governance strategies deal with the transport system as a whole. Integrated policies need to consider technical, as well as non-technical factors and developments. The facilitation of learning opportunities is crucial. Innovations need “spaces” to be tested and demonstrated. But, for a successful transition, the transport users need to
Erik Arnold, Paula Knee, Neil Brown, Zsuzsa Jávorka, Flora Giarracca and Sabeen Sidiqui
This study describes knowledge transfer from European universities and institutes to industry, focusing on the role of the Industrial Liaison / Technology / Knowledge Transfer Office function. It explores practices in European institutions and compares these with international ones, especially from the USA. The project is based upon a comprehensive literature review and a programme of detailed case studies of knowledge transfer strategies and practices. It addresses the wide range of knowledge transfer activities undertaken by public research organisations, in addition to IP exploitation and their different effects on innovation in the business sector. It presents a model of the transition of PROs' knowledge transfer strategies from pure technology transfer based only on IP to a broader role in knowledge transfer and ultimately to a two-way process of knowledge exchange between PROs and industry and wider society. The report presents a number of policy options to support this process.
Andrea Ricci and Stefano Faberi (ISIS, project coordinators), Nicolas Brizard and Brieuc Bougnoux (Enerdata), Melanie Degel (IZT), Daniela Velte and Eduardo Garcia (Tecnalia)
The report presents the results of a project on the future of Smart Grids/Energy Grids. It discusses technological issues associated with Smart Grids, analyses implications for policy-makers, citizens and society, industry and operators, as well as regulatory and financial conditions. While current trends point to a continuing growth of the electricity demand in the future, the emergence of advanced thermal technologies may result in partly curbing such growth. Also, the predictable increase in the cost performance of distributed generation might contribute to making off-grid solutions more competitive. In addition to privacy and security issues, and to the concerns at times expressed on possible health effects, a major change of attitude is needed on behalf of utilities to actively involve and empower end-users. Full bi-directional interconnection between all network nodes, and the need to ensure real-time exchange of consumption data, call for radical changes in the business models of operators, based on a clear and reliable identification of the benefits induced by the new system and of the extent to which each actor can ultimately accrue a fair share of such benefits. A new regulatory framework is necessary to ensure the most effective type and level of incentives to stimulate the investments required by the transition towards Smart Grids, while ensuring a level playing field in the sector.
Rinie van Est (Rathenau Instituut), Dirk Stemerding (Rathenau Instituut), Piret Kukk (Fraunhofer ISI), Bärbel Hüsing (Fraunhofer ISI), Ira van Keulen (Rathenau Instituut), Mirjam Schuijff (Rathenau Instituut), Knud Böhle (ITAS), Christopher Coenen (ITAS), Michael Decker (ITAS), Michael Rader (ITAS), Helge Torgersen (ITAS) and Markus Schmidt (Biofaction)
The report describes four fields of bio-engineering: engineering of living artefacts (chapter 2), engineering of the body (chapter 3), engineering of the brain (chapter 4), and engineering of intelligent artefacts (chapter 5). Each chapter describes the state of the art of these bio-engineering fields, and whether the concepts “biology becoming technology” and “technology becoming biology” are helpful in describing and understanding, from an engineering perspective, what is going on in each R&D terrain. Next, every chapter analyses to what extent the various research strands within each field of bio-engineering are stimulated by the European Commission, i.e., are part and parcel of the European Framework program. Finally, each chapter provides an overview of the social, ethical and legal questions that are raised by the various scientific and technological activities involved. The report’s final chapter discusses to what extent the trends “biology becoming technology” and vice versa capture many of the developments that are going on in the four bio-engineering fields we have mapped. The report also reflects on the social, ethical and legal issues that are raised by the two bioengineering megatrends that constitute a new technology wave.
Torsten Fleischer, Jutta Jahnel and Stefanie B. Seitz (ITAS-KIT)
This report deals with the potential environmental, health and safety (EHS) risks of engineered nanomaterials (ENM). Because of the great uncertainties regarding their actual health and environmental effects and numerous methodological challenges to established risk assessment procedures (toxicology, exposure and hazard assessments, life cycle assessment, analytics, and others), risk management of ENM is confronted with serious challenges. On the other hand, precautionary regulatory action with regard to ENM is demanded by a number of stakeholders and parts of the general public. Regulation under uncertainty raises fundamental political questions of how lawmakers should regulate risk in the face of such uncertainty. To explore this issue in greater detail, the project focused on two important perspectives of regulation: Risk management strategies for ENM as discussed or proposed for the EU or its Member States, and risk communication problems and needs for EHS risks of ENM. Findings of the project were discussed with MEPs in several workshops. In addition, the project used also a participatory method in order to investigate the risk communication expectations of the general public.
Jane Desbarats, Bettina Kretschmer, Robbie Watt and Keith Whiriskey (IEEP)
Pyrolysis technology has been assessed in this report based on an examination of the costs, the benefits, the barriers to market uptake, and the potential for EU funding to contribute to innovation and/or technology deployment. Given the benefits associated with the application of biochar to soils, here we consider how it can be utilised in the context of on-farm mitigation options. Looking at application of the technology from this perspective helps underline the importance of local context and soil properties. In carrying out cost-benefit analysis however, it has been challenging to calculate the cost of biochar given the lack of available information. For this reason, we have had to consider the cost of the entire pyrolysis lifecycle by looking at the cost of a number of other products such as pyrolysis oil. We maintain that the added benefit of biochar in terms of its ability to address adaptation, improves its overall cost-effectiveness. We also conclude that, although there is significant potential to implement mini-hydro for mitigation purposes, investment in the technology with the dual purpose of addressing both policy agenda items is not likely to improve its overall cost effectiveness given the limitations associated with implementation.
Isak Öhrlund (STOA Unit, European Parliament)
Our climate is rapidly changing, and to lower the risk of crossing a tipping point where dangerous climate change will be irreversible, greenhouse gas emissions must decrease rapidly within the coming decade and eventually be eliminated in a few decades ahead. To accomplish this, we will inevitably have to abandon fossil fuels and shift towards renewable energy systems, such as photovoltaic cells and wind turbines. Recent events have however indicated that the supply of raw materials used in advanced and emerging technologies may not be able to keep up with the rapidly increasing demand. Since the world cannot afford any further delay in climate change mitigation, this study investigates whether the supply of raw materials may hinder the successful transition to a renewable energy supply by looking at the future metal demand from photovoltaic cells and wind turbines. The findings show that major deployment of photovoltaic cells and wind turbines may have a serious impact on the future demand of 8 significant elements ‐ gallium, indium, selenium, tellurium, dysprosium, neodymium, praseodymium and terbium. The current recycling rate of these metals is less than one percent, and material substitution possibilities are found to be very limited. Due to the long lifespan of these technologies, increased demand will have to be met almost exclusively by virgin raw material extraction, which in turn will have major consequences for society and the environment, including large emissions of greenhouse gases. To tackle these issues and to avoid that the demand for certain raw materials will outstrip supply and cause a delay to any major deployment of photovoltaic cells and wind turbines, technological alternatives will have to be sought and implemented, as well as the concept of raw materials criticality will have to be reassessed and integrated into energy roadmaps and targets. If this is not done, bottlenecks in the future supply of these elements entail a risk of disabli
Christien Enzing, Jasper Deuten, Monique Rijnders-Nagle and Jon van Til
Parliamentary Technology Assessment (PTA) in Europe has been initiated and developed first in countries in northern and western parts of Europe and later also in Southern Europe. The main objective of this study is to trace the evolution of PTA from the Office of Technology Assessment in the US to a future pan-European participatory PTA and to deliver images of PTA future. Overall, the main type of effect of PTA on parliaments is raising their knowledge on specific technology or societal problems and their technological solutions. However, the institutional settings of the PTA organisations shape the type of influence these PTA organisations have on parliamentary decision-making. In order to ensure successful pan-European PTA cooperation, several conditions have to be fulfilled. These comprise having a PTA structure in countries all over Europe, an interface between scientists and politicians by creating a mutual language, the inclusion of the public and civil society organisations, the creation of a meeting place where all stakeholders have an easy access and, last but not least, the need for PTA to be mainstreamed within regional, national and European parliaments.
Bernd Beckert (Fraunhofer ISI), Ralf Lindner (Fraunhofer ISI), Kerstin Goos (Fraunhofer ISI), Leonhard Hennen (ITAS), Georg Aichholzer (ITA) and Stefan Strauβ (ITA)
How can the Internet contribute to the development and establishment of a genuinely European public (e-public)? What are good practices for e-participation in Europe and how can public organisations profit from opening up their processes to a wider audience (e-participation)? Is e-voting a realistic means to increase electoral turnout and what are the conditions for the success of e-voting? These are the main questions being dealt with in this report, which is the final report of the STOA-project on e-democracy. The report includes the analysis and insights of a research and consultation project in which three scientific institutes, eleven external experts as participants of two workshops and several Members of the European Parliament were involved. The aim of the project, which went from January 2010 to September 2011, was to analyse current developments in the area of e-democracy and to relate the insights to the European policy context, especially to the needs of the European Parliament. Within the three areas of e-democracy covered in the study, e-voting is the area in which the recommendation to the European Parliament is the most explicit: Based on the analysis, the build-up of a comprehensive system for e-voting in Europe cannot be recommended for the time being. The reasons for this are primarily cost-benefit considerations, technological issues and reasons of political legitimacy. Underlying the analysis was the conviction that elections are at the heart of the democratic process and that existing and working election routines in the countries will not be changed without good reasons. Concerning e-public and e-participation the report argues that a European public sphere includes and requires an active citizenry endowed with political rights as well as with a sense of identity which motivates engagement and political concern. European citizenship cannot be based in common language and traditions but only in a sense of belonging to a political community w