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Developing the next generation technologies of renewable electricity and heating/cooling


Specific challenge: Complementing the global challenges outlined above, the following technology-specific challenges have to be addressed in 2014:

  1. Photovoltaics: Developing next generation high performance PV cells and modules – Highly efficient, novel PV concepts, need to be developed based e.g. on advanced materials and processes, and/or innovative approaches to light management and solar spectrum matching/modification. The challenge is to bring practical performance close to theoretical limits.
  2. Concentrated Solar Power (CSP): Making CSP plants more cost competitive – Increasing the efficiency and reducing the construction, operation and maintenance costs of CSP plants are the main challenges. Innovative solutions and concepts are necessary in order to increase plant performance and reduce cost through improved components, improved plant control and operation, and innovative plant configurations.
  3. Wind energy: Develop control strategies and innovative substructure concepts - There is a need for i) control strategies and systems for new and/or large rotors and wind farms (on- and offshore); ii) new innovative substructure concepts, including floating platforms, to reduce production, installation and O&M costs for water depths of more than 50m.
  4. Ocean energy [1]: Develop emerging designs and components – Innovative designs and components are needed to ensure efficient and effective long-term cost reduction as well as to achieve high levels of reliability and survivability for at least 20 years in harsh conditions.
  5. Hydropower: Boosting peak power through sustainable hydropower – Existing hydropower stations need refurbishment and this opportunity should be used to modernise the power plants. Therefore, innovative and improved turbines or generators and related main equipment having a more robust design allowing operation in a wider range of heads and loads to increase power output, improve efficiency and dynamics should be developed.
  6. Deep geothermal energy: Development of new drilling technologies and concepts for geothermal energy – New drilling technologies and concepts are necessary to increase the number of economically viable geothermal resources, including in hard rock and high temperature/pressure conditions, and have a demonstrably smaller environmental footprint by comparison to existing drilling methodologies. Cross-fertilisation with hydrothermal oil and gas technologies and operations shall be explored.
  7. Renewable Heating and Cooling:
    1. Solar cooling systems[2] – Solar cooling systems reliability remains uncertain causing high installation and operation costs and hampering acceptance. Innovative solutions are needed to reduce the complexity of the installation, to improve components performance and reliability, and to ensure cost reductions.
    2. Improving efficiency of biomass CHP systems while widening the feedstock base[3] – Micro and small-scale CHP (0.5-250 kW and 0.25-1 MW input power respectively) have a high potential for heat and electricity production for decentralized applications. Cost effective, robust and environmentally friendly micro and small-scale CHP systems with high thermal and electrical efficiency need to be developed allowing the use of solid, liquid or gaseous sustainable biomass feedstock, such as agricultural and forest residues, upgraded solid or liquid bioenergy carriers with higher energy density, industrial by-products and biogas/biomethane.

Scope: Proposals should address one or more of the technology-specific challenges described above, including between renewables areas, where new, innovative ideas are welcome. They should bring technology solutions to a higher TRL, from TRL 3-4 to 4-5 (please see part G of the General Annexes).

Technical issues, synergies between technologies, regional approaches, socio-economic and environmental aspects from a life-cycle perspective (including public acceptance, business cases, pre-normative and legal issues, pollution and recycling) need to be appropriately addressed where relevant.

Environment, health and safety issues shall be considered in all developments and appropriately addressed.

An important element for the entire area of renewables will be the need for an increased understanding of risks in each area (whether technological, in business processes, for particular business cases, or otherwise), risk ownership, and possible risk mitigation. Proposals shall therefore include appropriate work packages on this matter.

Proposals shall explicitly address performance and cost targets together with relevant key performance indicators, expected impacts, as well as provide for development of explicit exploitation plans. Proposals should also indicate the current Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL, see Annex to this work programme) and the activities needed to keep the MRL aligned with the advances in the TRL that will be undertaken in the proposal to ensure the potential for exploitation.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 3 to 6 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Technological innovation related to the integration of renewable generation in the industrial and residential sectors can be addressed in the Energy Efficiency call or Smart Cities and Communities call. Improving the energy efficiency of district heating and cooling networks is addressed in the Energy Efficiency call.

Expected impact: The proposals are expected to have one or more of the general impacts listed below:

     Significantly increased technology performance.

     Reducing life-cycle environmental impact.

     Improving EU energy security.

     Making variable renewable electricity generation more predictable and grid friendly, thereby allowing larger amounts of variable output renewable sources in the grid.

   Increasing the attractiveness of renewable heating and cooling technologies by improving cost-competitiveness, reducing complexity and increasing reliability.

     Bringing cohesion, coherence and strategy in the development of new renewable energy technologies.

     Nurturing the development of the industrial capacity to produce components and systems and opening of new opportunities.

      Strengthening the European industrial technology base, thereby creating growth and jobs in Europe.

       Reducing renewable energy technologies installation time and costs.

       Increasing the reliability and lifetime while decreasing operation and maintenance costs.

       Contributing to solving the global climate and energy challenges.

Type of action: Research & Innovation Actions

[1] Marine energy is also addressed under the cross-cutting 'Blue Growth' focus area led by Challenge 2 (Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research and the bioeconomy), in particular under the area 'New Offshore Challenges'.


[2] Projects selected under this heading might be considered contributing to the objectives of the SPIRE PPP depending on the centre of their activities.

[3] Biomass supply is addressed in LCE 11 and LCE 12. Proposers are advised also to consult the work programme of the Bio-Based Industries JTI, which is expected to be published mid-2014.