The EU has set itself a long-term goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% compared to 1990 levels by 2050. The specific targets for the year 2030 are as follows:

  • a 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions
  • at least a 27% share of renewable energy consumption
  • at least 27% energy savings compared to the business-as-usual scenario.

In view of these objectives, the Member States are in a disadvantageous position due to the current state of the technologies used and the available local energy resources, and so these specificities must be taken.

Currently, 41 regions in 12 EU Member States are actively mining coal. This provides direct employment to about 185,000 people across the EU, with additional indirect jobs relying on coal production. However, the EU’s decision to move to emission-free technology is not subject to discussion and it is therefore necessary, taking into account the difficulties of these regions, to anticipate and propose the energy policy that is in line with the tasks. These regions need an effective roadmap to make the necessary transition to a more diversified economic base and a more sustainable energy system, while safeguarding the social cohesion for communities and regions dependent on coal production.

The overall objective of TRACER is to support a number of coal-intensive regions around Europe to design (or re-design) their Research and Innovation (R&I) strategies in order to facilitate their transition towards a sustainable energy system. More specifically, nine (9) European regions are involved in this procedure, 7 of them in EU Members States (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Poland, Romania, UK), and two (2) in countries outside the EU (Serbia, Ukraine), but with the same problems and considerations as the EU Member States ones. 

Policy makers in these regions – the so called ‘TRACER target regions’ – will be assisted to develop, implement and review their R&I strategies by providing information, developing methodologies, expertise and advice. The main deliverables of TRACER (a set of blueprints and tools for Member States, Associated Countries and regions) will assist the target regions to identify short- and medium-term solutions to help their transition to a more future-proof business model. The action will lead to new and deepened cooperation in R&I between coal intensive regions that will facilitate their transition to a more sustainable energy system.

The specific objectives of TRACER are:

  1. to assist the regional actors (in the target regions) in developing R&I strategies for smart specialisation, including the development of public R&I capacities, consistent with the EU’s Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan); 
  2. to identify and exchange some “best practices”, including industrial roadmaps from coal towards new technologies and transition strategies for coal based combined heat and power production to low carbon electricity and district heating generation;
  3. to investigate relevant social challenges in the target regions, including necessary re-skilling needs of the workforce;
  4. to provide guidance to regional actors for the access to available European funds and programmes, and on how to leverage additional national public and private co-financing.