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New knowledge and technologies


One of the following technology-specific challenges has to be addressed:

  • New renewable energy technologies: Developing the new energy technologies that will form the backbone of the energy system by 2030 and 2050: Excluding wind energy and sustainable fuels addressed in the other bullet points, and photovoltaic new materials addressed in topic NMBP-17-2016 ('Advanced materials solutions and architectures for high efficiency solar energy harvesting') of the work programme part 'Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies – 5.ii Nanotechnologies, Advanced Materials, Biotechnology and Advanced Manufacturing and Processing', the challenge is to scale up energy technologies currently in development at laboratory scale. It is crucial that these new, more efficient, and cost-competitive energy generation and conversion technologies, demonstrate their potential value in the future European energy system. Developments in sectors other than energy may provide ideas, experiences, technology contributions, knowledge, new approaches, innovative materials and skills that are of relevance to the energy sector. Cross-fertilisation could offer mutually beneficial effects.
  • Wind energy: Improved understanding of the physics of wind as a primary resource and wind energy technology: For an improved design of large-scale wind rotors a better understanding of the underlying physics is needed. The challenge is to increase understanding of the underlying physics and to significantly improve the simulation capability for multi-scale wind flows, loads and materials failure. Significant high-performance computing (HPC) resources will be needed for this challenge. It is expected that further research towards this challenge will continue after the project, therefore the data retrieved in this project should be with open access. Research results could contribute to IEA Wind and for that reason cooperation with IEA partner countries is expected. International cooperation with leading groups outside Europe is encouraged. This research will contribute to making wind energy fully competitive, through a better design of the wind turbine and having an impact on the turbine efficiency and therefore on the cost of energy produced.
  • Sustainable Fuels: Diversification of renewable fuel production through novel conversion routes and novel fuels: Novel technologies for sustainable fuel production and novel fuels having a potential value in our future transport energy system should be developed at laboratory scale. The specific challenge is to diversify the sustainable fuel production taking into account long-term dependencies on fossil fuels of particular transport sectors by developing novel fuels and processes that in the long-term can bring down substantially transport fuel costs while overcoming sustainability constraints and feedstock limitations. While biofuels produced from starch, sugar and oil fractions of food/feed crops are excluded, this research shall enable novel fuel production addressing one of the following pathways:
    • Development of novel microorganisms, enzymes and catalysts or a combination of these systems with improved performance for obtaining paraffinic biofuels or higher alcohols from lignocellulosic biomass;
    • Development of renewable alternative fuels from CO2 in industrial waste flue gases through chemical catalytic conversion;
    • Development of renewable alternative fuels from H2O, CO2 and energy from renewable, autonomous sources through micro-organisms, synthetic molecular systems or chemical synthesis, or a combination of these processes;
    • Development of middle distillate range biofuels (i.e. diesel and jet fuel) from liquid organic or lignocellulosic waste streams through advanced thermochemical conversion processes.

Aside from the technology-specific challenges mentioned above, potential environmental, resource efficiency and safety concerns, issues related to social acceptance or resistance to new energy technologies, as well as related socioeconomic and livelihood issues also should be addressed, where relevant. This may require a multi-disciplinary perspective with contributions also from the social sciences and humanities, which then should be integrated into the research process from the outset. A methodology that permits a sustainability assessment of the environmental (notably in terms of GHG performance), as well as economic and social benefits with respect to current technologies should be included.

Novel technology solutions for grid integration, storage, fuel cells and hydrogen – other than integral to the technology solution developed, energy efficiency and smart cities will not be supported under this topic but in the relevant parts of this work program.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 2 to 4 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

The technologies that will form the backbone of the energy system by 2030 and 2050 are still under development. Promising technologies for energy conversion are being developed at laboratory scale and need to be scaled up in order to demonstrate their potential value in our future energy system. These new technologies should provide more flexibility to the energy system and could help adapting to changing climatic conditions. New knowledge and more efficient and cost-competitive energy technologies, including their conventional and newly developed supply chains, are required for the long run. It is crucial that these new technologies show evidence of promising developments and do not represent a risk to society.

The results of this research are expected to move the technology involved to TRL 4 (please see part G of the General Annexes) and to provide better scientific understanding and guidance enabling the players concerned (e.g. policy makers, regulatory authorities, industry, interest groups representing civil society) to frame strategic choices concerning future energy technologies and to integrate them in the future energy system. It is also expected that new, out-of-the-box or advanced innovative ideas will emerge that will provide new impetus to technology pathways, to new solutions, and to new contributions to the energy challenge in Europe or worldwide.

Where relevant, the new developed technology pathways should improve the economic, environmental and social benefits of renewable energy. Notably, for sustainable fuels they should improve the conversion efficiency that will eventually allow significant cost reduction.