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Establishing the European Geological Surveys Research Area to deliver a Geological Service for Europe

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - GeoERA (Establishing the European Geological Surveys Research Area to deliver a Geological Service for Europe)

Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2018-06-30

The exploitation of subsurface resources has a major influence on the way we live our lives today. It has a large economic significance to society’s welfare and creates millions of jobs in Europe. Also, groundwater is vital to Europe’s agricultural sector and food industry and clean groundwater is a primary prerequisite for life itself. Energy and minerals are key to almost every aspect of our daily life.The European Union is facing a number of grand challenges related to the need to stimulate economic growth and recovery of resources while ensuring common welfare and a healthy and safe living environment to all its citizens. This increasingly puts pressure on the availability and exploitation of natural resources, including geo-energy, raw materials and groundwater. Examples of these are:
◾The use of fossil fuels to meet our energy consumption, is strongly associated with high emissions of GHG and therefore jeopardize the climate we live in. Solutions from the subsurface contribute to the provision of clean and renewable geothermal energy resources, and the capacity to store energy and CO2 underground.
◾Production of raw materials or hydrocarbons may impact groundwater quality and/or availability, impacting our state of welfare and health. Guidelines for responsible and safe exploitation can minimize these risks.
◾Extractions and injections of fluids and gases alter the natural state of the subsurface, which may affect the quality and balance water resources or could trigger induced seismicity, impacting infrastructure and safety of our environment. A better understanding of subsurface processes can minimize these risks.
To address these challenges and support policy- and decision making for the sustainable use and integrated management of subsurface resources, there is an urgent need for harmonised and integrated subsurface information and knowledge. GeoERA is a H2020 ERA-NET Co-Fund Action with the main aim to deliver this information and knowledge through a Geological Service for Europe by establishing a European Geological Surveys Research Area together with over 45 national and regional Geological Survey Organisations (GSOs) from more than 30 European countries.

GeoERA’s Geological Service for Europe will contribute to the optimal use and management of the subsurface while minimizing environmental impacts and footprint for geo-energy, raw materials and groundwater challenges. Therefore, GeoERA will launch the Joint Call to fund projects that support 1) a more integrated and efficient management of the subsurface and 2) more responsible and publicly accepted, exploitation and use of the subsurface. Projects will adress:
◾Interoperable and transnational data and information services on the distribution of geo-energy, groundwater and raw material resources in Europe and harmonized methods to assess those;
◾common assessment frameworks and methodologies supporting better understanding and management of the water-energy-raw materials nexus and potential impacts and risks of subsurface use;
◾a geological knowledge base, existing of objective and seamless data, information and expertise to service European, national and regional policy makers, industry and other stakeholders and facilitate them in policy and decision making processes.
- The GeoERA Stage One Call for Ideas opened on January 1st 2017 till April 4th until June 7th 2017. AThe call asked for ideas within the four themes Information Platform, Geo-Energy, Groundwater and Raw Materials, and encouraging cross-thematic ideas as well. The call was open to all interested. The purpose of the Call for Ideas was a public consultation on research interests and priorities as well as on needs and priorities for geoscientifically based knowledge, data and information services for Stakeholders. 61 Project Ideas were submitted.
- Based on this input the scientific scope of Stage Two Call for Proposals was developed as 16 Specific Research Topic (SRT) covering a specified issue within each Theme. This scope was discussed with the EC and the Stakeholder Council. The GeoERA Stage Two Call for Proposals opened with a Launch Event in The Hague to inform all interested proposers (~80 attendees) on requirements and procedures on October 17th 2017. This call closed on the12th of January 2018. 17 proposals were submitted.
- Review and evaluation: The proposals have been checked on eligibility and experts where selected for the technical review and the Expert Panel meeting. The Expert Panel met on the 21th of March 2018 in The Hague to evaluate the 17 proposals based on the H2020 Criteria of Excellence, Impact and Quality and Efficiency of Implementation. They delivered a ranking list of highest quality proposals. All projects have been evaluated above the threshold.
- End of March 14 projects where selected for funding by the Executive Board, and a 15th project was proposed with a lower EC funding rate. The General Assembly approved the 15 projects for funding on the 9th of April 2018.
-The project partners all signed a Project Agreement and kicked-off during a 3 day meeting held in Brussels with 150-200 participants.
The selected projects are expected to deliver impact through:
- Harmonized data and information and knowledge, including methodologies to develop such information, on the distribution, accessibility, feasibility (not in the financial sense), vulnerability and potential impacts and risks related to exploration and exploitation of geo-energy, groundwater and raw materials resources.
- Better and more integrated understanding of the water-energy-raw materials nexus, improving predictions and reducing risk and uncertainty.
- Better support to efficient and sustainable management of the subsurface by regional, national and EU policy makers, and responsible and publicly acceptable exploration, exploitation and use of subsurface resources by Europe’s Industry.
- Support networking, sharing, integration and interoperability of information
· Disseminate GeoERA results to policy makers, industry, scientists and the general public in a sustainable way through the Information Platform bases on EGDI

GeoERA co-funded projects will be required to communicate and disseminate their outputs in such a way that they best support efficient and sustainable management of the subsurface by regional, national and EU policy makers, and responsible and publicly acceptable exploration, exploitation and use of subsurface resources by Europe’s Industry. By jointly developing optimised strategies and tools for applied data-product generation, it will be easier and thus more attractive for end users to use geo-information. By providing transboundary access to information (currently not harmonized and available only through national or regional channels) that is harmonised using these strategies and tools, GeoERA will support EU’s open market and improve the foundation for business in the energy, water and minerals sector. This improved foundation in turn will contribute to improved supply security of subsurface resources for the wider industry and public.