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Over 100 stakeholders of SUNRISE and ENERGY-X gathered on February 5-6, 2020 in Brussels for the kick-off meeting of SUNERGY, a large-scale R&I initiative in the area of fossil-free fuels and chemicals. Renewable energy experts from academia, industry and policy addressed the current opportunities and challenges towards decarbonizing the European industry and society over the next 30 years.
Discussions showed how solar conversion by artificial photosynthesis for fuel and chemicals could contribute to climate neutrality and negative emissions by aligning action in research, innovation and industry policy – while ensuring the involvement of all the stakeholders. This was SUNRISE’s first big joint event with ENERGY-X since it became a CSA in March 2019!
The launch event was organized in two sessions: a high-level lunch discussion at the European Parliament (EP) on February 5, and a public two-day conference. The TownHall Europe hosted the afternoon session on February 5, while the morning session on February 6 was hosted by the Representation of the State of Hessen to the EU.
How large-scale R&I initiatives can contribute to the European Green Deal?
The main focus of the high-level lunch discussion at the EP, hosted by MEP Morten Helveg Petersen, was to facilitate a broader discussion between decision makers, academia, industry and other key stakeholders. Representatives from both initiatives agreed on the important role that large-scale R&I initiatives in the area of fossil-free fuels and chemicals play in order to accomplish the ambitions of the European Green Deal.
Keynote speakers were Cristian Silviu Bușoi (ITRE Committee Chair), Hélène Chraye (Directorate Clean Planet of Directorate General Research & Innovation), Mark van Stiphout (Directorate General Energy), SUNERGY coordinator Bert Weckhuysen (Utrecht University), and Maximillian Fleischer (Siemens Energy). Joanna Kargul (University of Warsaw) moderated the session.
Fossil-free fuels and chemicals for a climate-neutral Europe
During the first session of the public kick-off meeting, participants had the opportunity to hear about the achievements accomplished by both initiatives throughout the past year, and their joint vision on providing sustainable and competitive alternatives to fossil fuels by 2050. Keynote speakers like Peter Dröll (Director Prosperity, Directorate General Research & Innovation) highlighted the strong support of the European institutions towards R&I to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement.
The day ended with a Q&A session with Bert Weckhuysen, SUNERGY deputy coordinator Frédéric Chandezon (CEA), Jan Mertens (ENGIE) and Peter Dröll as panellists. The four speakers addressed the importance about effective governance in large-scale European initiatives, while trying to figure out future funding possibilities for SUNERGY.
The second day started with a session with more details about the joint SUNERGY vision by Bert Weckhuysen. Gabriele Centi (ERIC and University of Messina) took over with the implementation process in the ramp-up phase of the upcoming initiative, and Hervé Bercegol (CEA) closed the first round of lectures tackling the roadmapping efforts of both CSAs. The different talks ended with a Q&A session, moderated by Frédéric Chandezon.
After the presentation of the SUNERGY photo-contest winner Amedeo Agosti (University of Bologna), attendees could hear from recently awarded projects in the field of renewable energies presented by Siglinda Perathoner (ERIC and University of Messina), Pau Farràs (NUI Galway), Petr Krtil (J. Heyrovsky Institute of Physical Chemistry), SUNRISE coordinator Huub de Groot (Leiden University), and Mercè Almuni (VITO-Energyville).
The lectures were followed by a vivid panel debate moderated by Joanna Kargul (University of Warsaw). Panellists were challenged to discuss the main obstacles and drawbacks to be faced in order to develop sustainable alternatives to the fossil-based, energy-intensive production of fuels and base chemicals.
SUNERGY: A new joint initiative to unlock the renewable energy future
Started under Horizon 2020, SUNRISE and ENERGY-X have now joined forces under the name SUNERGY. Their common goal is to develop a large-scale research and innovation co-funded public private partnership in Horizon Europe.
They urge to complement the scope of existing European partnerships and enable the full decoupling of economic growth from the utilization of resources at the local, regional, national and European levels for a sustainable resilient growing economy that leaves no one behind.
While current public-private partnerships focus on improvements on the demand side with limited impact, SUNERGY proposes a pipeline of high impact technologies that boost efficiency on the supply side with light-to-products and fuel conversion from atmospheric CO2 at high yields up to 2500 ton/ha.yr.
We would like to thank all the participants who joined us for the SUNERGY kick-off meeting! These enriching discussions will definitely contribute to shape the future possibilities of the upcoming initiative.
Would you like to grasp more about SUNRISE and ENERGY-X first big joint event? Don’t miss the following materials to stay tuned to the latest updates: