Knowledge sharing

Consortia will have to share information about the performance of their project. The information to be shared is outlined in Annex 3 of the Award Decision, ‘Specification for legally-binding instrument’. The ‘SLBI’ is a model contract drawn up by the EC for Member States to sign with winning projects located on their territory.

The EC will be responsible for ensuring that projects comply with NER300 knowledge-sharing rules and for implementing procedures to share this knowledge. Projects will submit ‘must-share’ information (known as Relevant Knowledge in the SLBI) in a standard format that will be designed by the EC. DG Energy wants information to be reported in the same format as EEPR projects must use. In order for a project to receive its NER300 subsidy for calendar year N, it must send all Relevant Knowledge in respect of that year to the EC by 15 February of year N+1 (see Reporting and disbursement schedule). Project Sponsors must oblige subcontractors to pass on Relevant Knowledge if they hold it (FAQ 54). Monitoring, verification and reporting of the project’s renewable energy production is a related but separate procedure that must respect similar deadlines.

Relevant knowledge will be shared at two levels. Detailed information will be shared between projects in the same category and “any other project which has agreed to share information with the EC on [equivalent] terms”. General information will, on the other hand, effectively be made public. These levels of sharing are respectively known as ‘Level 1’ and ‘Level 2’.

The EC would like NER300 beneficiaries to grant non-exclusive licences to any part of the knowledge that they have gained from their NER300-funded project “on terms that are commercially reasonable” to a party seeking to “implement a project similar to the Project [awarded the NER300 grant] anywhere in the world”. The SLBI appears not to put a direct requirement on beneficiaries to license in this way. Instead it asks the Member States to consider whether, in order to be compliant with NER300’s rules they might themselves need to put this requirement on projects (9d and 9e of SLBI).

A UK-based consultancy helped the EC implement NER300’s knowledge sharing rules. The consultancy started work in April 2011 and had handed in its report to the EC by the end of 2011. Its remit was to

  • propose a method for sharing knowledge within Level 1 and Level 2
  • identify organisation(s) that could help to share the knowledge, or that could hold it
  • propose a composition and characteristics for these/this organisation(s) (note: the EC later nominated itself as the organisation)
  • propose indicators of success
  1.’s commentary and recommendation:

    If non-NER300 projects are to be admitted to (or forced to join) the Level 1 club, an assessment must be made of the quality of the information that they contribute. Contributors of accurate but low-value knowledge should not be given access to valuable knowledge held by the EC.

    Until the publication of the Award Decision, it was not known whether the EC would itself take on the role of performing knowledge-sharing. It might have contracted out the work. Keeping it in-house was a wise decision. It will now be easier to feed data coming from NER300 projects into EC policy-making.

    The EC’s Directorate General JRC would be the right part of the EC to take on day-to-day knowledge-sharing work. This is because it already has a mandate to do this kind of work as part of the Strategic Energy Technologies Information System, which monitors progress towards different performance and cost targets put forward by European Industrial Initiatives).

    The EC proposes to aggregate and anonymise some of the data shared at Level 1 to make it shareable at Level 2. The small initial number of projects in Level 1 might make anonymising data impossible. A consequence of this will be that it will also be impossible meaningfully to aggregate data, as the aggregation would have to be across subcategories that each have different relevant metrics and benchmarks of performance.