When we talk about energy, there are two things we know without doubt. Number one: energy is at the heart of our quality of life and a crucial factor for economic competitiveness and employment. Number two: our current fossil-fuel based energy system is not sustainable as it contributes substantially to climate change and depends heavily on imports from very few countries.
The issue of climate change is an ever pressing one. Recently, thousands took to the streets in protest ahead of a UN climate change meeting of 120 government leaders in New York. Each had four minutes to share their perspective. It’s no surprise that one of the main concerns of all of these leaders and their governments is how we can possibly meet the challenge of satisfying increasing energy needs and encouraging economic growth while still combating climate change.
Energy research and innovation can play an essential role in meeting this dual challenge, and that’s why it has been named as one the key priorities in Horizon 2020. Addressing the key societal challenge ‘Secure, clean and efficient energy’, energy research should support the transition to a reliable, sustainable and competitive energy system. In terms of budget, Horizon 2020 will dedicate €5 931 million for non-nuclear energy research for the period 2014-2020 and €1 603 million for nuclear research for the period 2014-2018. The first calls for these projects have already opened.
Many EU-funded projects are already working hard to meet the energy challenge that leaders discussed in New York. Some examples are OPEN METER, BRICKER, OSIRIS and TCSPOWER.