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Solar Energy for a Circular Economy

Project description

Turning sunlight and carbon dioxide into chemicals

The Coordination and Support Action (CSA) SUNRISE is a scientific and technological project ambitious in its goal to exploit solar energy and atmospheric gases such as CO2, water and nitrogen to provide a sustainable alternative to the fossil-based, energy-intensive fuels and compound chemical synthesis process. The CSA aims at providing a Science and Technology roadmap to bring in 10 years renewable fuel production to technology readiness level 9 (TRL 9) at a cost of 0.4 €/L and atmospheric CO2 photoconversion at TRL 7. The ambition is to develop a portfolio of novel technologies to convert up to 2 500 tonnes of CO2 per hectare per year and produce over several hundred tonnes of commodity chemicals per hectare per year. SUNRISE will largely contribute to making Europe the leading hub of technology innovation, closing the carbon cycle and providing enormous economical, societal and environmental benefits.


The aim of SUNRISE is to make sustainable fuels and commodity chemicals at affordable costs of materials and Earth surface, using sunlight as the only energy source. This includes nitrogen fixation and the conversion of atmospheric CO2 into products, which will be a game changer in the fight against climate change. The CSA SUNRISE gathers the scientific and industrial communities that will develop radically new technologies to harvest solar energy and enable the foundation of a global circular economy. SUNRISE targets three synergistic S&T approaches: (i) electrochemical conversion with renewable power, direct conversion via (ii) photoelectrochemical and (iii) biological and biohybrid systems. These will be implemented with the crucial support of novel material design via high performance computing, advanced biomimicry, and synthetic biology. Ultimately, the novel solar-to-chemical technologies will be integrated into the global industrial system. In 10 years, SUNRISE will bring renewable fuel production to TRL 9 at a cost of 0.4 €/L and atmospheric CO2 photoconversion at TRL 7. The ambition is to convert up to 2500 tons of CO2 and produce > 100 tons of commodity chemicals (per ha per year), realizing a 300% energy gain over present best practices and deploying devices on the 1000 ha scale. This requires new solutions for absorbing >90% of light and storing >80% of the photogenerated electrons in fuels/chemicals produced in large-scale solar energy converters, in close interaction with social and environmental sciences to optimize their deployment. SUNRISE will make Europe the leading hub of disruptive technologies, closing the carbon cycle and providing a solar dimension to the chemical industry, with enormous economical, societal and environmental benefits. SUNRISE is an intrinsically flagship enterprise that has obtained explicit commitment from top organisations, both from industry and academia across Europe, to set the stage for the next steps of the action.

Call for proposal


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Net EU contribution
€ 198 917,70
2311 EZ Leiden

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West-Nederland Zuid-Holland Agglomeratie Leiden en Bollenstreek
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 230 000,00

Participants (19)