The European Green Deal expects to transform Europe into a fair and prosperous society with a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy with no net emissions of greenhouse gases in 2050. To decarbonise Europe, land-based and offshore renewables must become the main energy source, while keeping the stability and resilience of the European Energy System. Research and Innovation is still needed to be able to achieve a full system transformation and to realize the ambition of other EU policies like the Clean Planet for all, the SET-Plan, and the New Circular Economy Strategy and to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations (in particular SDG 7 Affordable and Clean Energy and SDG 9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure.
Given that the topic contains two subtopics, the specific challenge for the first one, about the development of land-based renewable energy technologies and their integration into the energy system, includes in particular the following:
Renewable energy-based systems for district heating and cooling (DHC) and for cogeneration of heat and power (CHP) can play a key role in energy system integration, and make a significant contribution to the decarbonisation of the energy system. The Energy System Integration Communication points as one of the solutions towards an acceleration of smart, highly-efficient, renewables-based district heating and cooling networks[[COM2020(299) https://ec.europa.eu/energy/sites/ener/files/energy_system_integration_strategy_.pdf. Renewable energy-based DHC and CHP systems that are at the same time robust, reliable and flexible to respond to peak demands require effective and efficient combinations of different renewable energy sources in the same system. This is because for example solar thermal technologies are challenged by sunshine hours, bioenergy by biomass availability and geothermal heating by geology, hydrology and land availability. Research and innovation are necessary to develop the renewable energy-based DHC and CHP systems of the future that are secure, cost-effective, affordable and robust to renewable energy fluctuations. These innovative approaches will have to take into account the specific conditions of the different geographical regions of Europe. Digital solutions can be an important enabler for the operation of multi-source DHC and CHP networks.
Similarly, the specific challenge for the subtopic on demonstration of innovative technologies to enable future large scale deployment of offshore renewable energy includes in particular the following:
The Commission’s long-term strategy, A Clean planet for all, identifies offshore renewable technologies, amongst others, as a key energy system for the Clean Energy Transition. It provides estimates for the offshore wind capacity in Europe of 240-440 GW by 2050, compared to about 22 GW today, while other offshore renewables follow a more modest scenario. This increase would represent a paradigm shift in the European energy system and require a modern infrastructure to seamlessly integrate the power of offshore resources in the energy system via the grid to onshore, or via the option of power-to-X taking into account grid constraints, investments and evolving /new energy market design.
This buildout needs to ensure cost efficiency and to foster the green economy, while protecting the environment and biodiversity, and assuring a just transition. There is a need for more efficient, cost-effective, affordable and secure technologies using wind, solar, wave and/or tidal resources, considering the potential of the different European sea basins (Baltic Sea, North Sea, Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea) and the complementarity of resources to reach the best capacity factor and optimized use of all the power equipment. At the same time, developed solutions should ensure resource efficient use of raw materials, in particular critical raw materials.
Proposals should address one of the following two subtopics and clearly indicate which subtopic is addressed
Subtopic 1 (Research and Innovation action): Development of land-based renewable energy technologies and their integration into the energy system
Projects should develop innovative solutions for either district heating and/or cooling systems or CHP, which allow satisfying a significant or possibly total share of the energy demand by means of combining different highly efficient land-based renewable energy sources. Projects should combine at least two or more renewable energy sources and/or two or more renewable energy technologies. The seasonal loads of the DHC or daily/seasonal loads of the CHP system (for example when coupled to an industrial process), and the daily/seasonal availability of the renewable energy sources have to be properly taken into account. Projects should assess the sustainability of the proposed solutions in environmental, social and economic terms.
For DHC systems, the integration of sources of otherwise wasted excess heat or cold as well as the interfacing with existing heating or cooling distribution networks can be considered. For CHP solutions, the minimum capacity in terms of power supply should be 2,5 MW and the electrical efficiency is expected to go well beyond the state of the art. The optimization in terms of energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the proposed solutions, as well as the adaptability to existing systems for a representative variety of network conditions in the EU should be addressed. Projects should assess the sustainability of the proposed solutions in environmental, social and economic terms and should also take into account the requirements of the final users.
Projects should bring the proposed solutions to TRL 4-5.
In order to ensure a balanced portfolio, at least the highest ranking proposal addressing CHP and DHC will be funded, provided it attains all thresholds.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 3 to 6 million would allow this challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
Subtopic 2 (Innovation Action): Demonstration of innovative technologies to enable future large scale deployment of offshore renewable energy
Projects must demonstrate at sea critical offshore renewable energy innovations considering the efficiency, reliability, scalability, sustainability and circularity that is needed in all areas of the offshore renewable energy system, notably:
In order to ensure a balanced portfolio, at least the highest ranking proposal addressing Offshore renewable energy power generating systems and the highest ranking proposal addressing Grid infrastructure will be funded, provided it attains all thresholds. This condition to ensure a balanced portfolio will also considered to be met if one project addressing both aspects will be funded. Furthermore, projects may also include:
The innovative demonstration actions might be part of a larger project or already making use of existing infrastructure. Multi-functional platforms can be considered.
Proposals should address also the following:
The project consortium should demonstrate how it contributes to knowledge building and innovation. Development of new knowledge, models and solutions are paramount to maximize the benefits of the energy transition, to ensure that the right choices are made, and to optimize technologies and systems.
The project has to include a clear go/no go moment ahead of entering the deployment phase. Before this go/no-go moment, the project has to deliver the detailed engineering plans, a complete business and implementation plan and all needed permits for the deployment of the project. The project should clearly demonstrate a proposed pathway to obtaining necessary permits for the demonstration actions and allow for appropriate timelines to achieve these. The project should also demonstrate how it will get a financial close for the whole action. Independent experts will assess all deliverables and will advise for the go/no-go decision.
The project should bring the demonstrated technologies to TRL 7.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 20 to 35 million would allow the specific challenge to be addressed appropriately.
Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. Funding for proposals being part of a larger project will be related to the eligible costs based on the innovative part of the project.
Subtopic 1: Development of land-based renewable energy technologies and their integration into the energy system
Projects will bring clear benefits in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, air pollutants emissions and the use of fossil fuels. They will also demonstrate that an affordable, reliable, secure and flexible DHC and/or CHP systems based on onshore, local renewables can be designed to be adaptive and scalable according to the energy demand.
Subtopic 2: Demonstration of innovative technologies to enable future large scale deployment of offshore renewable energy
The project should clearly demonstrate all potential impacts on the future roll-out of large-scale deployment of offshore renewable energy, the market perspective considering existing or alternative (decentralised) systems and all other environmental (like GHG reductions), ecological, social and economic impacts along the value chain.
It should increase incentives for investment and economies of scale in offshore bringing down costs and create new business models and services.