The development of efficient, sustainable and flexible energy systems is a key challenge for Europe’s energy decarbonisation and a corner stone of Europe’s 2050 climate-neutrality goal, set out in the European Green Deal. To achieve such viable energy system, a particular support should be given to solutions aimed at increasing lifetime and decrease the cost of the overall system. In this context, Hydrogen (H2) has the potential to contribute to the above mentioned objectives.Currently H2 is largely produced from fossil fuels, commonly referred to as grey H2, or promising but still expensive blue H2 options, combining methane-to- H2 with carbon capture and storage, or renewable H2 pathways (green H2), entirely based on renewable electricity. Referring to green H2 production, the state of art technology is based on water electrolysis, with costs still higher than grey H2 and production processes affected by the use of critical raw materials.
This Pathfinder Challenge aims at developing novel processes and technologies to produce green H2, at different scales (from small to large) and capturing cross sectorial coupling and system integration opportunities, entirely based on (i) renewable sources and (ii) non-toxic, non-critical raw materials. It focuses on the potentials of new biological, chemical, and physical routes for green H2 production which could also facilitate the implementation of the circular economy principles, possibly including the co-production of decarbonised chemicals. The specific target is to support the development of innovative technologies and platforms for green H2 production, including both centralised and/or on-demand generation (i.e. at the premises of the end users and for onsite consumption). Reaching these objectives requires multidisciplinary competencies and cross sectorial approaches addressing also environmental, industrial and logistic issues.
Specific conditions for this challenge
In order to apply, your proposal should develop a proof of concept or lab-scale validated innovative green H2 production technology by biological, chemical or physical routes without the deployment of fossil fuels, potentially including the use of salt or waste water, air moisture, biomass or recycled by-products, or the co-production of decarbonised chemicals.
Projects with multidisciplinary and cross sectorial approaches, looking for inspiration, ideas and knowledge in disciplines that are typically not in this kind of research, are particularly welcome. Projects are strongly encouraged to consider the recovery and recycling of by-products and wastes (circular approach), as well as the use of abundant natural resources. The safe and sustainable use of non-critical raw materials is mandatory and the projects should include a full life cycle analysis of the proposed solutions and their impact on Europe’s decarbonisation goals.