Secure clean and efficient Energy
The EU has agreed on ambitious Energy and Climate targets for 2020 and beyond to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase the share of renewable energies and improve energy efficiency. Achieving these objectives advances Europe along the path to an energy system that will deliver a competitive and secure energy supply which is sustainable.
New technologies and solutions must compete on cost and reliability against energy systems with well-established (and amortised) technologies. Research and innovation are critical to make these new, cleaner, low-carbon, efficient energy sources commercially attractive on the scale needed and must be combined with measures facilitating the market uptake of these energy technologies and services. The Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan), as the research and innovation pillar of European energy policy, provides the strategic frame for addressing these challenges. It sets out a long term agenda addressing the key innovation bottlenecks and mobilizes efforts across Europe in the form of joint implementation and risk and capacity sharing. Responding to the new challenges that have been appearing in the worldwide energy landscape since the adoption of the SET Plan in 2007, the Commission adopted a Communication on “Energy Technologies and Innovation”1 in May 2013 which puts forward concrete measures to reinforce the SET Plan and better equips it to respond to these new challenges and to more effectively consolidate research and innovation capacity and resources across Europe.
The activities included in the first work programme of the Horizon 2020 Energy Challenge contribute to the three focus areas "Energy Efficiency", "Competitive Low-Carbon Energy" and "Smart Cities and Communities". These activities cover the full innovation cycle – from 'proof of concept' to applied research, pre-commercial demonstration and market uptake measures2. They also exploit synergies with other relevant areas, e.g. information and communication technologies. In addition, the Energy Challenge contributes to the 'Blue Growth' focus area as well as to the Public Private Partnerships Energy-efficient Buildings and Sustainable Process Industries (SPIRE).
This work programme encourages synergies between Horizon 2020 and other European Union funds, such as European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), by expanding the scope and impact of both funds in terms of scientific excellence and place-based socioeconomic development respectively. The ESIF will invest up to EUR 90 billion in innovation and research in the period 2014-2020 and between 12% and 20% of the European Regional Development Fund will serve also the take-up of energy efficiency and renewable solutions.
In line with the conclusions of the Commission's Communication on "Energy Technologies and Innovation", this work programme calls for a number of joint actions between the EU and Member States aiming at delivering the necessary scale and scope, and achieving greater impact from scarce public and private resources.
Industrial participation in the programme is crucial for developing new generations of lowcarbon technologies and rolling them out to the market. Given the central role of SMEs as a source of innovation, growth and jobs in Europe, this work programme features a number of topics particularly tailored to the needs of SMEs, including one topic for the SME instrument.