Horizon Europe seeks high impact projects for the green transition

Freight ship with cargo containers.

The Horizon Europe Cluster on Climate, Energy and Mobility brings together climate, energy and mobility research to enable greater collaboration in these areas.

In the year when the UK will host the crucial UN Climate Change Conference, the focus on activity to achieve a clean and just transition to climate neutrality has never been greater. Achieving the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to well below 2°C, compared to pre-industrial levels, requires huge leaps in innovation this decade. Governments and the private sector will need to invest significant sums to achieve the innovation needed.

The International Energy Agency estimates that €75 billion needs to be mobilised globally as soon as possible to fund demonstration projects before 2030 if its Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario is to be achieved. Horizon Europe, the European Commission’s Research and Innovation Programme, will contribute over €15 billion to research, development & demonstration (RD&D) in climate, energy and mobility over the next seven years.

Opportunity for UK academics, businesses and the public sector

The UK will associate to Horizon Europe so UK organisations can apply for funding on the same terms as organisations from Member States. The UK will contribute £2 billion per year to the overall Horizon Europe budget.

There are six clusters (a grouping of global challenges) in total. The new Horizon Europe Cluster on Climate, Energy and Mobility represents an excellent opportunity for the UK in the context of our net zero target and The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution (gov.uk)

The cluster brings together climate, energy and mobility RD&D to enable greater collaboration and cross-cutting activity in these highly interlinked areas.

The objectives of the cluster are to fight climate change by better understanding its causes, evolution, risks, impacts and opportunities, and to make the energy and transport sectors more climate and environment-friendly, more efficient and competitive, smarter, safer and more resilient.

Airplane and biofuel tanker with the backdrop of an airport

Credit: Getty Images

The cluster will fund projects that contribute to accelerating the twin green and digital transitions. The UK has a leadership position in several areas of the cluster, with leading climate scientists and key players in fuel cell and battery technologies.

We also have aligned initiatives and programmes such as net zero and the Faraday Battery Challenge. The cluster is, therefore, an excellent opportunity for UK organisations to seek funding to address national priorities whilst also contributing to the green transition at a European and global level.

Priority areas

The cluster is made up of six destinations, or sub-areas. They are called destinations because they indicate both the specific direction and the ultimate point of arrival of the projects to be supported through Horizon Europe. The budgets for 2021 and 2022 are in brackets below:

  1. Climate sciences and responses for the transformation towards climate neutrality (€274 million)
  2. Cross-sectoral solutions for the climate transition (€389 million)
  3. Sustainable, secure and competitive energy supply (€1.126 billion)
  4. Efficient, sustainable and inclusive energy use (€244 million)
  5. Clean and competitive solutions for all transport modes (€511 million)
  6. Safe, resilient transport and smart mobility services for passengers and goods (€380 million)

Areas of significant budget allocation include:

  • a competitive and sustainable European battery value chain (€293 million) – in destination 2
  • renewable energy technologies (€704 million) – in destination 3
  • zero-emission road transport (€199 million) – in destination 5

The commission will issue calls for proposals for RD&D projects in all of the above listed areas. You can see all of the current and forthcoming calls for proposals for 2021 and 2022 on the EU’s Funding and Tender Opportunities portal.

Solar panel, wind turbines and Li-ion battery container, blue sky background. Energy storage system.

Credit: Getty Images

In addition, there is funding for the following sectors through institutionalised European partnerships:

  • European partnership for transforming Europe’s rail system
  • European partnership for integrated air traffic management
  • European partnership for clean aviation
  • European partnership on clean hydrogen

Big numbers, but what does it mean to individual organisations?

The Climate, Energy and Mobility cluster of Horizon Europe is about collaborating with organisations from around Europe to tackle issues that cannot be tackled by individual organisations and that are more effectively addressed by bringing together skills and knowledge from several countries. Interdisciplinary teams are formed to submit proposals to deliver highly innovative, high impact projects. Examples of such projects include:

Carbon capture and storage (CCS)

STEMM-CCS has successfully developed and tested a robust methodology for establishing environmental and ecological baselines under ‘real life’ conditions. It has developed a suite of cost-effective tools to identify, detect and quantify CO2 leakage from a sub-seafloor CCS reservoir, including an assessment of the utility of chemical tracers in the marine environment.

The STEMM CCS consortium consists of a wide range of stakeholders including a global private sector company, research organisations and an SME. It is led by the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton and made up of 12 organisations from five different European countries (UK, Germany, Netherlands, Norway and Austria). €10.5 million of the €16 million budget is allocated to UK organisations. You can read more about the project on the STEMM website.

Decarbonising shipping

A team of 14 different organisations from across Europe has come together to undertake a project to reach zero-emission shipping by disrupting the way ships are designed and operated. The recently initiated project will develop and demonstrate two bespoke vessel designs: a wind-energy-optimised bulk carrier and a hydrogen-powered cruise ship. Both will be equipped with an interdisciplinary combination of innovative technologies working in symbiosis to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 99%, achieve at least 50% energy savings and reduce black carbon emissions by over 95%.

This substantial project has a budget of almost €10 million, with €3.5 million allocated to the UK participants. It is led by the Finnish University of Vaasa and includes four different organisations from the UK (MSC Cruise Management Ltd, Lloyds Register, Silverstream Technologies Ltd and BA Technologies Ltd). You can read more about the project on the CORDIS website.

What are the benefits of participating?

Clearly the funding is a benefit, but there is more to it than that. The Horizon Europe programme is an opportunity to collaborate with world-leading organisations to enhance your organisation’s capabilities, to access cutting edge technologies and infrastructure, and to influence standards and regulations.

It offers an opening into new markets and supply chains and raises the profile of your organisation. And crucially you can contribute to limiting climate change.

You can hear more about the benefits of participating in these short videos from UK participants, Ricardo and Nova Innovation.

I’m interested in finding out more, what should I do next?

You should contact the UK National Contact Points. We provide a free and confidential service to UK organisations. We offer support in areas including:

  • navigating funding opportunities
  • finding partners (for most Horizon Europe projects you would apply as part of an international consortium of organisations from at least 3 different countries)
  • proposal preparation and the submission process
  • admin and finance questions.

If you are new to European funding, our introductory webinar on Horizon Europe Climate, Energy and Mobility cluster, and/or our overview of the whole of Horizon Europe available on the KTN website may be useful.

Other blogs in the Horizon Europe series:

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