IEA Bioenergy operates within the IEA energy technology and R&D collaboration programme. This programme facilitates co-operation among IEA Member and non-Member countries to develop new and improved energy technologies and introduce them into the market. Activities are set up under Technology Collaboration Programmes (TCPs) which provide the legal mechanisms for establishing the commitments of the Contracting Parties and the management structure to guide the activity. Contracting Parties can be government organisations or private entities designated by their governments. Non-IEA Member countries, or their designated entities, can become Contracting Parties.
The IEA has established Technology Collaboration Programmes to provide a framework for international collaboration in energy technology R&D, demonstration and information exchange. They specify the commitments of the Contracting Parties, and a management structure. They provide for the production and protection of intellectual property, and record arrangements for commercial exploitation and benefit sharing.
There are 42 current Technology Collaboration Programmes of which IEA Bioenergy is one of the largest and most long running. Accumulated experience since 1974 has demonstrated that TCPs are effective in accelerating energy technology development by sharing scarce resources and broadening prospects of market deployment.
The Technology Collaboration Programme “mechanism” is flexible and accommodates energy technology and R&D collaboration between and among different entities, such as government institutions, universities, utilities and private companies. It can be used in all phases of the energy technology cycle, i.e., research and development; demonstration and validation of technical, environmental and economic performance; market deployment and information exchange.
TCPs can also facilitate a variety of collaborative projects under the same legal framework. “Umbrella” type TCPs consist of a series of collaborative projects in a technical sector, combined under a single TCP. Umbrella TCPs offer flexibility – countries need not participate in all activities under a TCP and specific projects may be initiated or terminated within the framework of an ongoing Technology Collaboration Programme.
Technology Collaboration Programmes have a standard legal structure defining the commitments and rights of Contracting Parties. IEA Member countries participate in TCPs on a voluntary, case-by-case basis. Contracting Parties undertake Tasks identified in Annexes to the Technology Collaboration Programme. The Annexes usually specify arrangements for handling and protection of information and intellectual property, and record arrangements for commercial exploitation and distribution of benefits. Contracting Parties designate one Operating Agent for each Task who is responsible for management of the collaboration and provides infrastructure as needed.
While all Contracting Parties sign the Technology Collaboration Programme and its general provisions apply to each, participation in the Tasks under Annexes may vary according to the parties’ wishes and additional Task Annexes may be added as the TCP proceeds. While most participants are government organisations or semi-public entities, TCPs are open to private organisations formally designated as participants by their national governments. To enhance interaction with industry and other users of results of the collaboration, options exist to involve expert groups from multilateral organisations and industry, where they can make a substantial contribution to the programmes. International inter-governmental organisations may participate as Contracting Parties, and industry bodies not directly nominated by governments may participate as Sponsors.
The Contracting Parties to a Technology Collaboration Programme nominate an Executive Committee which acts as the ‘board of directors’ of the TCP. The Executive Committee appoints Operating Agents to manage the day-to-day activities of each of the Tasks of the TCP. The Executive Committee is made up of one representative from each participating country, and most substantive decisions are required to be made on the basis of consensus.
A regular process has been established by the IEA to review the efficiency and effectiveness of the Technology Collaboration Programmes. Each TCP is subject to review every five years prior to extension of the activity. This review is undertaken on behalf of the IEA Committee on Energy Research and Technology, which makes recommendations on possible extensions of the TCP to the IEA Governing Board. In addition the TCPs provide annual reports on achievements and use of resources.