The SOLAR-ERA.NET Cofund Joint Call is carried out by national research and technology development (RTD) and innovation programmes and national funding agencies in the field of solar electricity generation, i.e. photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) / solar thermal electricity (STE). The Joint Call is commonly carried out by eleven countries: Austria, Cyprus, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and United Kingdom.
Official opening of the Call: 5 December 2016
Brokering webinar: 12 December 2016, 12:00-14:00 CET
Deadline for submitting preproposals: 20 February 2017, 17:00 CET
Full proposal round: 6 April to 14 June 2017
2. Participating States, Organisations and Programmes
The participating national SOLAR-ERA.NET partners / contact points are listed in Table 1. Each applicant must check the project idea with the national contact point as early as possible in the preproposal phase, at the latest before submitting any applications.
3. Scope and Topics of the SOLAR-ERA.NET Cofund Joint Call
The topical focus of the SOLAR-ERA.NET Cofund Joint Call is on strengthening the industrial manufacturing base through innovative manufacturing techniques, mass production, new products and services as well as integration of solar energy technologies in the energy system. The objectives of the proposals submitted must be in line with the strategic targets defined in the SET plan (see “SET-Plan - Declaration on Strategic Targets in the context of an Initiative for Global Leadership in Photovoltaics respectively Solar Thermal Electricity available on the solar-era.net website).
The SOLAR-ERA.NET Cofund Joint Call comprises four topics:
A) Innovative and low-cost PV manufacturing issues
B) Advanced PV products and applications
C) PV system integration
D) CSP cost reduction and system integration
The topical focus of the SOLAR-ERA.NET Cofund Joint Call is on strengthening the industrial manufacturing base through innovative manufacturing techniques, mass production, new products and services as well as integration of solar energy technologies in the energy system. The figure shows the four topics and their position on mainly TRL 5 and 6, i.e. validation and demonstration of (key enabling) technologies in the industrially relevant environment, stepping up to TRL 7.
Not all programmes / funding agencies will accept applications in all topics (see Table 2 and country- specific tables in the annex), and some will prioritise some topics over others. Applicants must check with their national contact points whether the project idea fits within the national constraints as early as possible but at least before submitting a preproposal.
A) Innovative and low-cost PV manufacturing issues
Demonstration of advanced and innovative equipment in pilot and pre-pilot line environment for highly performing technologies with high-yield throughput and cost-effective industrial production, ultimately targeting at or being compatible with GW-scale. The following issues shall be addressed and goals pursued:
An improved quality of silicon wafers, through a deeper understanding of the silicon structure and composition depending on the crystallisation processes.
The development of wafer tracking software systems in order to further improve the yield and the operating costs of the manufacturing processes, and to get feedback for the development of the next generation of processing equipment.
The thin wafer handling up to the module encapsulation process.
The development of in line tool characterisation yielding higher throughput.
Innovative formation of PV layers (dielectrics, transparent conductive oxides, metallization,
1 for Germany, PV system integration is funded under the “ERA-NET cofund Smart Grids Plus” scheme
2 For United Kingdom, Please see national guidelines for further information on eligibility in Topic D
Innovative cells interconnection processes and schemes enabling the design of low loss / low current modules.
Concentrator PV (CPV) and High Concentrator PV (HCPV) technologies: advanced designs aiming at very high efficiency of solar cells and modules, optics for high concentration, industrial manufacturing processes as well as cost-efficient and reliable tracking systems.
Processes and manufacturing issues related to production of other (non-silicon) solar cell technologies.
B) Advanced PV products and applications (e.g. building-integrated PV)
The focus is on innovative manufacturing of and solutions for building- and product-integrated PV systems. The following issues shall be addressed and goals pursued:
Dimensional and outlook flexibility with customised sizes, shapes and colours, freeform module
technology, and bifacial solar cells and modules, electrical design for energy output optimisation
(shadows, various tilt and orientation angles, safety issues).
Holistic approach for the energy performance.
C) PV system integration
The focus is on grid integration of PV power, installations and products, decreasing the costs of electricity and increasing the value of solar power. (Only PV specific issues are addressed, more general issues are addressed by smart grid, smart cities initiatives. Links to other initiatives are welcome.)
The following issues shall be addressed and goals pursued:
An integrated approach should seek a combination of load management / self consumption,
power management of the distributed PV generators and storage systems and dispatchable flexible capacities, which altogether assure a stable grid in spite of fluctuations of demand and generation.
Design tools for the sizing of storage power as a function of PV power, load demands and share of controllable loads should be developed.
An e-infrastructure allowing the development of innovative services in the field of PV system integration would be very beneficial to both researchers (power prediction) and end-users (remote fault detection). Then, business and market models should be developed which assure the active contributions of all stakeholders (PV system operators, storage system operator, aggregators consumers, etc.) to a stable grid.
Development of better battery management systems based on a combination of hardware (which allows to better assess the state-of-charge and state-of-health) of batteries in combination with software for a better energy management incorporating short-term energy yield forecasting for PV-system.
Demonstrations of solutions should be realised on a grid where the PV penetration may exceed 50% in terms of annual energy consumption.
For all PV topics, novel aspects of sustainability and safety issues can be addressed (e.g. resource efficiency, life cycle analysis, critical substances).
D) CSP cost reduction and system integration
The focus is on significant reduction in specific investment costs and thereby electricity production costs by addressing system components, storage / dispatchability and hybrid systems. The following issues shall be addressed and goals pursued:
Innovative HTF: increased operating temperature, lower water consumption, environmental
acceptability, lower storage volume. All new concepts must demonstrate full dispatchability and scalability features. The increased conversion cycle efficiency must be compared with the decrease of collector efficiency when increasing the HTF temperature.
Improved mirrors and support structure to reduce the cost of the solar field (40 % of the cost of the power plant).
Improved selective coatings for receivers (absorber tubes and central receivers).
Integration of direct steam generation into process heat for industrial applications.
Innovative storage: advantage of dispatchability, 24 h operation, grid stability.
New smart hybridisation and better integration concepts: dispatchability, firmness, attractive
concept for countries with gas/oil resources or bio mass (MENA-Region), grid stability.
4. Application Issues for the SOLAR-ERA.NET Cofund Joint Call
4.1 Timeline and Process
The call is set up as a two-step submission procedure, consisting of a preproposal phase and a full proposal phase. Further information is available with the Guidelines for Users of the Electronic Submission System available on the solar-era.net website (pre-screen of what will be required in the application). The most relevant dates and deadlines are given in Table 3.
Table 3: Dates and Deadlines for SOLAR-ERA.NET Cofund Joint Call:
Pre-opening information webinar: 21 November 2016, 12:00 – 13:00 CET
Publication of the SOLAR-ERA.NET Cofund Joint Call: 5 December 2016
Brokering webinar: 12 December 2016; 12:00 – 14:00 CET
Submission of preproposals: 20 February 2017, 17:00 CET
Communication on applications selected for full proposal round: 6 April 2017
Submission of full proposals: 14 June 2017, 17:00 CET
Final funding decisions communicated to proposers: End of October 2017
Start of projects funded: End 2017 / early 2018
Before submitting a preproposal, all project partners must contact their respective national programme funding organisations in order to discuss the project line-up and funding conditions.
A preproposal is mandatory. It has to be submitted by the coordinator and partners through an online application form accessible via www.solar-era.net within the deadline set.
National organisations will then carry out their eligibility check (and pre-evaluation) based on the preproposal and the respective national funding rules. Independent international experts will evaluate the preproposals. Applicants will be provided with feedback after the review of their preproposal, including the information on whether or not they are selected for submitting a full proposal. More specifically, the Joint Call secretariat will inform the coordinator of the application by e-mail by 6th April 2017. Recommendations for the full proposals according to the national rules and principles may then be provided.
The full proposal must be submitted by the applicants through an online application form accessible via www.solar-era.net within the deadline set. Additionally, national funding applications may have to be submitted separately according to their specific rules (see Annex – National Requirements).
An evaluation will be performed by independent international evaluators and the funding organisations concerned, according to the evaluation criteria specified in the call. Based on the result of the international evaluation within SOLAR-ERA.NET, projects will be selected (or not) for funding.
4.2 Eligibility Issues
Different eligibility aspects have to be considered:
Applications must be submitted through the Electronic Submission System within the deadline set.
Eligible consortia shall consist of a minimum of 2 partners from 2 different countries participating in the SOLAR-ERA.NET Cofund joint call. At least one partner in the consortium must be from industry. The project consortia may involve as many partners as necessary to successfully deliver the project. Partners from countries that are not members of the SOLAR-ERA.NET Cofund (see list of funding partners under section 2) can join a project consortium as additional partners providing added-value to the project. However, these additional partners must finance their activities from other sources, as each funding agency will only fund partners from their own country.
Applicants have to fulfil (additional) eligibility criteria of their respective national programme / funding organisation and must contact their national agency as early as possible in the process to understand if their project is within scope/eligible.
SMEs, large companies, academic research groups, universities, public research organisations or other research organisations may participate according to their national financing regulations (see Annex – National Requirements).
The project duration is limited to max. 36 months.
4.3 Funding Rules
Within this SOLAR-ERA.NET Cofund Joint Call, the funding rules of the national agencies apply. Prior to submitting a preproposal, all project partners seeking funds have to contact their funding agency / contact point. The level of funding available will be determined by the rules of the relevant funding agency. Information about the specific funding rules and applicable topics will be provided via the person in charge of the respective national agencies (see Table 1). Some relevant information is provided in Annex – National Requirements. Each project partner will receive funds from his / her national agency. Each project partner will be responsible for the preparation and submission of all necessary reports required by their funding agency in order to obtain funding in full accordance with national rules. The European Commission (as support to SOLAR-ERA.NET Cofund (N° 691664) within the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation HORIZON 2020 grant) reimburses 33% of the action's eligible costs by max. EUR 5’930’149. The estimated eligible costs of the action are EUR 19’670’150.
Project proposals and any information relating to them shall be kept confidential in accordance with the applicable national legislation. Project proposals shall not be used for any purpose other than the evaluation of the applications, making funding decisions and monitoring of the project. International experts, which will be invited to evaluate the proposals, are required to sign a confidentiality agreement prior to evaluating proposals.
Successful projects have to provide a non-confidential project summary and concise annual reports that will be published on the SOLAR-ERA.NET website (see section 5) in the interests of knowledge exchange. Further details of projects are strictly kept confidential.
4.5 Consortium Agreement
A consortium agreement between the project partners will be required. In order to accelerate the selection and contract offer process, a statement on the signature of the consortium agreement should be submitted with the full proposal. Models for consortium agreements can be obtained from national funding agencies or from the EC IPR Helpdesk: http://www.ipr-helpdesk.org. The project proposal must be the foundation for the consortium agreement. The purpose of the consortium agreement is to clarify the responsibilities of the partners, decision processes inside the project, management of any change of partners, how to exploit and/or commercialise the results (for each partner) and IPR issues.
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