Why the EU supports energy research and innovation
The transition towards climate neutrality by 2050 gives energy a central role, as energy is today responsible for more than 75% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions.
In fact, to reach climate neutrality, we need to decarbonise at least six times faster than anything realized globally so far. We must drastically increase the share of renewable energy sources and clean energy carriers. Also we must improve energy efficiency.
Importantly, the energy transition must be just and inclusive or it will not happen at all. Citizens need not only clean, but also affordable, and secure energy.
Research and innovation are critical for delivering the solutions and system transformations. We must increase the efficiency of the whole renewable energy value chain, and integrate sustainability and circularity throughout it.
In parallel, we must develop and demonstrate novel and disruptive renewable energy technologies and energy storage solutions.
Clean hydrogen can play a key role for long-term energy storage and for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, in particular in sectors that are difficult to decarbonize with existing solutions, such as heavy-duty and long-distance transport, and carbon-intensive industry. Carbon capture and storage must address remaining emissions.
Read about the EU’s energy research and innovation strategy.
Key research areas
Bioenergy is the conversion of biomass into useful forms of energy. Biomass includes things like farm and forest waste, organic garbage, energy crops, algae, and biological carbon dioxide. Through bioenergy, these materials transform into heat, electricity, and fuels for transportation. The process helps put various natural byproducts and residues to beneficial use as replacements for fossil fuels.
Energy storage can stabilise fluctuations in demand and supply by allowing excess electricity to be saved in large quantities.
With the energy system relying increasingly on renewables, more and more energy use is electric. Energy storage therefore has a key role to play in the transition towards a carbon-neutral economy.
Nuclear fusion has the potential to provide a safe, cost-efficient and sustainable solution to European and global energy needs. Fusion energy has no difficult waste issues and is climate friendly.
This type of energy is stored as heat below the earth’s surface, and can be used to generate electricity. Geothermal energy is local and constantly available, making it an excellent contribution to the energy mix.
Hydro reservoirs provide built-in energy storage and the fast response time of hydropower allows it to meet sudden fluctuations in supply or demand of other renewable sources (for example solar and wind power).
This means that hydropower can have an increasingly important role in providing flexibility to the electricity system.
Nuclear fission can harness large quantities of energy released to generate electricity for the benefit of society as a whole.
Moreover, nuclear science and technology have also other applications.
Ocean energy is abundant and renewable. It can play an important role in the energy mix as it is very predictable, contributing substantial value to the energy system. The main forms of ocean energy are waves, tides, marine currents, salinity gradient and temperature gradient.
For solar to become an even more important source of clean energy in Europe, generation costs need to be lowered and the efficiency of converting sunlight to energy improved.
Research and innovation focus on photovoltaics, concentrated solar power and solar heating and cooling.
Wind energy is the technology expected to provide the largest contribution to the EU renewable energy targets for 2022 and beyond.
Calls for proposal related to energy themes in Horizon 2020. On this page you can find more information, the work programme and a link to the energy related calls.
Gain easier access to debt and equity financing such as InnovFin, managed by the European Investment Bank Group and European Investment Fund.
The Euratom programme provides funding for nuclear fission and fusion research.
Co-financing for climate change mitigation and adaptation research, supporting the transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy.
CEF energy funds and finances energy infrastructure projects.
Funding for innovative low-carbon technology research with focus on environmentally safe Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and innovative renewable energy technologies.
EU Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME) aims to make it easier for SMEs to access finance in all phases of their lifecycle.
Energy research related calls may be found in these funds.
Prize awarding €5 million to the best solution demonstrating the use of sunlight to produce a sustainable fuel ready for use in housing, transport or industry.
Prize rewarding outstanding researchers or industries who find new solutions to the huge challenges of fusion energy.
Prizes rewarding achievements in local renewable energy production for electricity, heating, cooling and transport on islands.
To read about Collaboration and Jobs, Project and Results & Scientific Publications, Tools and Databases, follow the link to the official page.
Why is it even more important at this time?
The Energetic Crisis in Ukraine
Gas prices are already high. The Russia-Ukraine crisis threatens to further squeeze the global energy market.
It’s been months since we’ve all experiencing an increase in gas and fuel. No surprise in seeing that the U.S. gas prices are hitting the peak point since 2014.
The intensifying Russia-Ukraine crisis threatens the global energy market. Russia, facing Western sanctions in this conflict, exports a large amount of the world’s oil supply. As the third largest oil exporter, disruptions there could squeeze worldwide energy supplies further. The short, simplified sentences help keep the writing concise while still conveying the key points about impacts to global energy from the ongoing conflict.
There are various theories that could explain why the prices have spiked up in the first place, but the Era in which we are currently living, shows that Russia could upend the energy market. If the country responds to Western sanctions by cutting off oil supply to Europe, gas prices could spike around the world, David Frum writes: “Some commentators are comparing the current Russian aggression against Ukraine to Hitler’s invasion of Poland in August 1939. Here’s another analogy that could be more accurate: In 1979, upheavals in the Middle East sent energy prices soaring—and Western economies tumbling.”
In the final week of January, 47.5 million cubic meters of gas flowed through the checkpoint on average each day. From Slovakia, Russian gas can hurtle into the Czech Republic, Hungary and Baumgarten, an Austrian gas turntable with connections to Germany, France and Italy.
When Gazprom PJSC cut exports to Europe last year, EU parliamentarians said Moscow was weaponizing its dominance of the energy market, an accusation denied by the company and the Kremlin. A more prosaic factor explains the drop in exports in January and the subsequent pickup.
Europe still has little room for maneuver and an escalation in tensions with Russia remains a wild card. European and U.S. officials are taking no chances, racing in recent weeks to lock down energy supplies in the event the standoff imperils supplies from Gazprom.
For now, though, falling prices will offer relief to aluminum, zinc and fertilizer producers that responded to rocketing energy bills by cutting output.
Gas prices have also tumbled in the U.K., the region’s other gas-trading hub. While electricity prices, which have close ties to the gas market in Europe, are falling in Germany and France, the EU’s two biggest economies.
In countries including the U.K. and France, consumers are yet to feel the full blast of last year’s leap in wholesale prices, and the recent decline will take even longer to feed through.
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