Sustainable energy research, innovation and education should be a top priority for Horizon Europe, the next European Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.
This is the main message of a position published by the EUA Energy & Environment Platform (EUA-EPUE) together with the European Energy Research Alliance (EERA) and EIT InnoEnergy. The three organisations call for a doubling of the overall Horizon Europe budget, as proposed by the Lamy report. They also call for an increase of funding for sustainable clean energy projects. This is necessary to fulfil the European Union’s energy objectives for 2030 and 2050 and its commitments in Mission Innovation beyond 2020.
Europe aims at being a world leader in clean energy, as stated in the European Commission’s Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan), and should be able to implement effective market-creating research and innovation policies with respect for the environment. Horizon Europe should address the research and innovation priorities of the SET-Plan by covering the full innovation chain from fundamental research to innovation actions with direct market potential. Simpler funding streams for research projects with follow-up innovation actions should be made available. The programme should also better integrate education activities and provide appropriate resources as a way to increase competitiveness.
The research-oriented “missions” that will be part of Horizon Europe must have clear interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral dimensions to bring about transformative change in Europe’s energy sector. Technological solutions alone will not be enough to solve the energy challenge or to fulfil or exceed the EU’s 2050 Energy Strategy and the targets of the Paris Agreement. This is, for instance, the case with the rapid digitisation of the energy system, energy storage and electromobility, which all need interdisciplinary and intersectoral collaboration.