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ENERGY-X: Transformative chemistry for a sustainable energy future

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ENERGY-X (ENERGY-X: Transformative chemistry for a sustainable energy future)

Reporting period: 2019-03-01 to 2020-02-29

Climate change makes it imperative that we discover ways of producing energy and chemicals sustainably and replacing the fossil fuels that form the basis for our energy and chemical industry. The vision of ENERGY-X is to enable the sustainable production of synthetic fuels for energy storage and of feedstock for the chemical and materials industry. Electricity from solar cells and wind turbines is gradually becoming economically competitive, and our urgent scientific and technical challenge is to discover ways of storing and transmitting energy from these intermittent sources. Battery technology offers part of a solution, but there is a large fraction of fossil use that cannot be readily replaced in that way. This includes large parts of the transport sector, such as air or long-distance transportation, energy storage to overcome seasonal variations and the transmission of large quantities of energy from one region to another. Chemical conversion of water, CO2, and N2 into fuels and base chemicals (H2, methanol, light olefins, ammonia) based on sustainably produced electrical energy is an essential component in any sustainable energy and production system.
The CSA, ENERGY-X, has been set-up to prepare a large-scale European research initiative (LESRI) in the context of the above mentioned challenges. The overall objectives of the proposed ENERGY-X LESRI can be summarised as follows:
• Provide fuels for the transport sector
• Enable energy storage from weeks to months for intermittent electricity production
• Enable efficient transport of energy between regions in EU and beyond
• Stabilise the grid by creating flexibility in electricity production and use in EU
• Develop new value chains and technologies to use alternative carbon resources to replace fossil raw materials in the chemical and materials industry
Much of the work carried out during the ENERGY-X CSA has revolved around consolidating the scientific agenda, growing the community and exploring options for a future large-scale initiative.
The scientific and technological goals of ENERGY-X were defined during the research needs meeting held 1-3 July 2019 in Brussels, where 180+ academic and industrial stakeholders from all over Europe and beyond contributed to the ENERGY-X research roadmap. This document subsequently served as a basis for the work dedicated to devising an implementation plan, as well as scientific governance of a future LSERI.
The research roadmap was subject to discussion during the second workshop, held on 2 December 2019 in Frankfurt am Main, where 40+ stakeholders were invited to give their views on the timing and content of stakeholders involvement in the future large-scale European research initiative, with reference to the goals stated in the research roadmap.
After the merger of two FET flagship CSAs, ENERGY-X and SUNRISE, which was announced in August 2019, work on the future joint initiative “SUNERGY” was carried out on several fronts. An interim governance structure was established with scientific and industry boards, allowing for joint decision making during the remaining part of the CSAs. Joint working groups were established to collaborate and ensure coherent strategies on governance, communication and implementation, as well as to organise the SUNERGY kick-off event, held on February 5, 2020, with participants from the supporting community and the European commission.
Throughout the CSA communication with European and national stakeholders has been ongoing, to secure a future large-scale European research initiative.
Research roadmap:

The ENERGY-X roadmap outlines the research priorities in twelve areas seen as integral to realising sustainable fuels and chemicals. This document is the consolidation of the knowledge and views of more than 180 scientists and industry specialists, and as such sets tangible goals, not only for researchers, but also for industries and European decision makers. The report summarises state of the art and sets short, medium and long-term goals for each of the twelve areas. With the merger of SUNRISE and ENERGY-X, the goals and priorities outlined in their respective roadmaps will be consolidated in the coming year to create a joint roadmap.

Expected impacts of the SUNERGY initiative:

From the merger of ENERGY-X and SUNRISE, work has been ongoing to align the future initiative with European policy and objectives both in the short and long term. Creating a pan-European platform for sustainable fuels and chemicals will ensure a coordinated research effort and accelerate scale-up, by creating synergies with European industry. The newly established Green Deal aims to secure a sustainable economy for Europe before 2050. SUNERGY will contribute to the objectives of the Green Deal by providing technological solutions enabling a decoupling of the European Economy from fossil resources. The SUNERGY initiative also contributes to the goals of the EU Energy Union and the Energy Roadmap 2050 to support a secure, sustainable, affordable, and climate-friendly energy supply for Europe, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 while fostering competitiveness and job creation. On a global scale, the objectives and the impact related to SUNERGY support the UN Sustainable Development Goals – in particular: Affordable and Clean Energy (goal 7); Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure (goal 9); Cities and Communities (goal 11); Climate Action (goal 13) - and the goal of the Paris Agreement to contribute to limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5°C.
ENERGY-X roadmap launch event_Brussels_September 2019
SUNERGY kick-off meeting_Brussels_February 2020
ENERGY-X_SUNRISE joint session_EuropaCat_August 2019
ENERGY-X research needs meeting_Brussels_July 2019