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SOLAR-ERA.NET Cofund

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

Reporting period: 2016-11-01 to 2017-10-31

SOLAR-ERA.NET Cofund brings together 15 national organisations owning and / or managing major solar power research and innovation programmes throughout Europe.

SOLAR-ERA.NET Cofund 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 grid / 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 shall 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's focus is on solar power technologies covering both photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) / solar thermal electricity prioritised according to the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan.

SOLAR-ERA.NET Cofund follows on from the SOLAR-ERA.NET project and network (www.solar-era.net) launched in 2012 and previous PV-ERA-NET network, taking advantage of more than ten years of ERA-NET experience and expertise from all major key stakeholders in the solar research and industry sector.

Main activities and objectives are:
•To prepare, launch, implement and follow up a single joint transnational call funding the most promising innovative transnational projects in solar power technologies with grants to third parties advancing technology and solutions for competitive products and services;
•To pool resources and to provide critical mass for and focus on transnationally highly relevant topics thus achieving strong impact with scarce public and private resources, together with the European Commission, from leading national 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 joint call with relevant stakeholder groups, based on most relevant references taking into account the needs and priorities resulting from a very dynamic and harsh industrial and economic environment asking for fast and substantial advances in technology development, industrial processes, marketable products and solutions for grid / system integration;
•To mobilise up to 20 MEUR of public funding (national and EC funding), and, together with the resources provided by the private industry sector, a total of 40 MEUR. This contribution allows for addressing appropriately the specific challenge tackled within this joint transnational call;
•To select and fund transnational projects where major progress can be achieved in technology development for subsequently successful commercialisation;
•To maintain and enhance coordination, coherence and networking between national programmes, also through implementing joint calls, providing momentum to contribute to support the implementation and achieve the objectives of the SET plan and Energy Union package. This includes identification of potential international stakeholders which bring an added value to the European solar Industry.
The SOLAR-ERA.NET Cofund call was launched on 5 December 2016. 48 preproposals with a total funding volume of 40 MEUR were submitted by the deadline, i.e. 20 February 2017. 28 preproposals were recommended to be submitted as full proposals, which was notified to the applicants on 6 April 2017. 27 full proposals with a total funding volume of 20 MEUR were submitted by the deadline, i.e. 14 June 2017. 23 full proposals met all national requirements and were selected for the evaluation carried out by independent international experts between 8 and 29 September 2017. The experts discussed and ranked the full proposals at the panel meeting held on 10 October 2017. Finally, the funding agencies checked funding availability with the ambition to fund a maximum of highly ranked and scored projects.

17 projects out of 23 projects evaluated by independent international experts were selected for funding - with a total funding volume of some 12 MEUR. 5 projects belong to the topic A) Innovative and low-cost PV manufacturing, 6 projects to the topic B) Advanced PV products and applications, 4 projects to the topic C) PV system integration and 2 projects to the topic D) CSP cost reduction and system integration. The total volume of all 17 projects is around 18.5 MEUR. Projects are expected to start from early 2018 on.
SOLAR-ERA.NET Cofund allows to continue and further strengthen the collaboration and cooperation of national organisations owning and / or managing major solar power research and innovation programmes throughout Europe, started some 15 years ago.

Through its international collaboration and support / funding of transnational research and innovation projects, SOLAR-ERA.NET Cofund contributes 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. Thus SOLAR-ERA.NET Cofund also contributes to achieving the ambitious objectives outlined in the SET-plan and Low Carbon Energy strategy set out in the Energy Package.

With 17 full proposals selected for funding, the first SOLAR-ERA.NET Cofund call will support highly innovative projects in solar power technologies. The number of projects received and supported are in the top range of the expected / forecast figures for this call. The sizes of the projects are smaller than expected in terms of project volume and funding requested. Yet, this Cofund call achieves record levels compared to all six SOLAR-ERA.NET and PV-ERA.NET joint calls carried out so far - both in terms of numbers of projects (17) and funding mobilised (some 12 MEUR). The transnational projects are expected to allow for major progress in technology development for subsequently successful commercialisation.

SOLAR-ERA.NET shall maintain and further enhance coordination, coherence and networking between national programmes, possibly also through successive and successful Cofund joint calls, providing momentum to contribute to support the implementation and achieve the objectives of the SET plan and Energy Union package. A follow-up proposal has been positively evaluated and is being negotiated with the EC while writing this report.
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