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Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Solar Cofund 2 (SOLAR-ERA.NET Cofund 2)

Reporting period: 2018-06-01 to 2019-05-31

SOLAR-ERA.NET Cofund 2 brings together 18 national and regional organisations owning and / or managing major solar power research and innovation programmes throughout Europe.

SOLAR-ERA.NET Cofund 2 shall contribute to substantial cost reductions of solar power technologies, economic development of the European solar power sector and to reinforce Europe’s strong position in solar power technologies. Reducing technology cost and advancing manufacturing technologies, applications and energy system integration are essential to increasing the deployment of solar power technologies as crucial element of the Low Carbon Energy strategy set out in the Energy Package. This way, SOLAR-ERA.NET Cofund 2 shall greatly contribute to achieve the ambitious climate change targets, to sustainable, secure, cost-efficient energy supply and to provide growth and jobs in the solar and related industry sectors providing also a solid industrial and technological base.

SOLAR-ERA.NET Cofund 2 focus is on solar power technologies covering both photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) / solar thermal electricity according to the set-up of the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan and the documents with Declaration on Strategic Targets in the context of an Initiative for Global Leadership in Photovoltaics resp. Concentrated Solar Power and their subsequent Implementation Plans.

According to the challenges addressed and impacts expected in the work programme, SOLAR-ERA.NET Cofund 2 has different sets of objectives:
• To establish long-lasting joint programming research efforts between Member States / Associated Countries in areas of common interest through successive and successful joint calls (this being the second Cofund joint call, preceded by six previous calls carried out by SOLAR-ERA.NET and PV-ERA.NET) and providing momentum to contribute to support the implementation and achieve the objectives of the SET plan and Energy Union package.
• To pool resources and to provide critical mass for and focus on transnationally highly relevant topics thus achieving great impact with scarce public and private resources, together with the European Commission, from leading national and regional solar R, D & I programmes, the research community and the private solar industry sector;
• To address topics and subjects of highest priority and European added value for the SOLAR-ERA.NET Cofund 2 joint call with relevant stakeholder groups;
• To mobilise 30 MEUR of public funding (national funding for the co-funded and Additional Joint Call and EC funding for the co-funded joint call), and, together with the resources provided by the private industry sector, a total of 60 MEUR. This contribution allows for addressing appropriately the specific challenge tackled within this joint transnational call;
• To accelerate the time to market of affordable, cost-effective and resource-efficient technology solutions which decarbonise the energy system in a sustainable way through targeted investment in research and innovation that has the greatest potential to reduce the overall LCOE and life-cycle environmental impact from solar power technologies projects.

SOLAR-ERA.NET Cofund 2 will select and fund transnational projects where major progress can be achieved in technology development and for subsequently successful commercialisation and follow a double mission according to the subsequent Strategic Targets horizons (originally for 2020 and 2030):
i) short-term to accelerate technology development and shorten the time to market by delivering transnational projects to TRLs 6-7 by the end of 2022, with commitment in place from third parties to carry them through to commercialisation,
ii) mid- to long-term: to promote new promising options through emerging technologies to deliver new and competitive products and services on a fast development track from today lower TRL’s to higher TRL’s, bringing them from the lab to the industrial dimension and thereby achieving the long-term strategic targets in PV and CSP set for 2030
Basic requirement for transnational projects will be advances of at least 1 TRL and contribute to the strategic targets of improving Key Performance Indicators by 15 to 40%.
• To encourage industrial participation and leverage private sector investment through supporting innovative transnational projects with strong industrial involvement and orientation as well as through a pro-active communication and dissemination policy for and with the industrial sector / organisations, both on the national/regional and European level.
• To (re)strengthen the European industrial technology base, thereby creating economic growth and jobs in Europe through focussing on supporting transnational projects aiming at innovative manufacturing techniques, mass production and developing new commercial and competitive products and services.
• To reduce the environmental impact of the energy system through performance increases and minimising the life-cycle environmental impact of new products and services and their successful large scale deployment potentially tremendously contributing to decarbonise the energy sector.
• To make a measurable contribution to the political objectives of the Energy Union, the SET Plan, and the European Research Area through the double short- and mid-/long term ambition and orientation for supporting transnational projects.
The Co-funded Joint Call was successfully carried out from its launch on 4 June 2018 to the selection of 20 full proposals for funding based on the ranking list set up by Independent international experts at the end in May 2019. The 20 projects selected have a total volume of 25,2 MEUR, including public funding of 17,8 MEUR. The funding agencies are currently proceeding with the contracts. Projects are expected to start from September 2019.
The Information Exchange and Brokerage Event organised in the premises of Intersolar in Munich on 16 May together with ERA-Net Smart Energy Systems found good interest with more than 80 participants. This Event is part of the Additional Activities.
The Additional Joint Call is being prepared and to be launched on 7 October 2019.
SOLAR-ERA.NET shall support highly innovative research projects on a transnational level in the European Research Area allowing for using the technological, environmental, commercial and societal potential and benefits outlined in the objectives (mentioned in the section above).

SOLAR-ERA.NET also provides added value in terms of networking and programming, namely:
• New industry-led innovation projects and partnerships in a strongly competitive environment
• Common initiatives and implementation activities
• Networking and collaboration between countries across Europe
• Overview on European research and insight into trends
• Best practice for supporting projects on the transnational level

20 highly innovative projects were selected for funding in the Co-funded Joint Call. They have a total volume of 25,2 MEUR, including public funding of 17,8 MEUR. The projects are expected to be finalised by December 2022.

The Additional Joint Call will gather some 10 MEUR of public funding to support even more projects. In the context of this Call, an Information Exchange and Brokerage Event was successfully held in Munich on 16 May 2019, bringing stakeholders from the sector together for new project ideas and consortia. The Call is likely to be launched in October 2019.