BIG DATA: Great opportunities and challenges
Juan Cristóbal García
Senior Innovation Strategy Consultant
We take a look at all the opportunities offered by innovation funding programmes in the field of energy storage
Within European R&D&I funding, the place of projects aimed at innovation in the field of energy storage is most prominent. There are many opportunities for those seeking funding for their innovative battery projects. Horizon Europe – the European Commission’s new programme, the successor to Horizon 2020 – is undoubtedly where most of the funding in this area is to be found, although other programmes offer excellent opportunities.
At Zabala Innovation, we offer our experience in all these programmes. In the first Horizon Europe battery call, for example, five of the seven projects we supported were financed, which is equivalent to a success rate of 71% and 33 million euros in grants, i.e. 14% of the funds.
With a budget of 138 million euros, the next Horizon Europe call for projects, in which batteries play a prominent role, opens on 28 April and closes on 6 September 2022. This is destination 2 (Cross-sectoral solutions for climate transition) of cluster 5 (Climate, energy and mobility) of pillar 2 (Global challenges and European industrial competitiveness) of this programme. In this destination there are 10 themes on batteries. To better understand them, we have grouped them according to their main research axes.
Innovative storage technology. This line of research is addressed by the topics Production and refinement of graphite (natural and synthetic), New methods for the study of electrolyte-electrode interfaces, and New technologies for high-performance battery systems and safe design for mobile and transport applications. Two projects will be selected for each of these three themes, with an expected contribution of around €5 million per project.
Digital technologies. Three topics are structured around this line of research. The topic Development of a platform for the improved acceleration of new materials and interfaces for batteries will fund a single project. The estimated contribution is EUR 20 million. The other two themes, Digitisation to improve the battery testing process from cell to system, including lifetime assessment, and New physics and data-driven approaches to optimise battery use, will select three projects each, with the expected financial support of around €5 million per project.
Industrialisation. This research line is associated with a single theme, Towards the creation of an integrated manufacturing value chain in Europe: from the development of machinery to the integrated design of plants and sites. This topic will fund two projects with grants of around €7-8 million.
Internet of Things. This line of research includes the topic Incorporation of smart functionalities in battery cells (incorporation of sensing and self-repair functionalities to monitor and repair battery cells), which will support three projects of around €5 million each.
Circular economy. Again, a single topic: Streamlined collection and return logistics, fully automated, safe, and cost-effective sorting, disassembly, and second use before recycling. The grants will go to three projects, each worth 5 million.
Creation of a battery ecosystem. Within this line of research, a single project will be funded for an amount of approximately €3 million on a single topic: Coordination of a large-scale initiative on future battery technologies.
Destination 3 of the same cluster also presents topics on batteries, although it should be noted that this call, which has a budget of 381 million euros, closes in a very short period, on 26 April. In this destination, under the research line on renewable energies, we find the topics Demonstration of the use of high-temperature geothermal reservoirs to provide energy storage to the energy system and Demonstration of innovative forms of storage and their operation and successful integration in innovative energy systems and grid architectures.
The topics Demonstration of innovative solutions for system management and renewable energy storage in off-grid applications and Interoperable solutions for flexible services through distributed energy storage are part of the smart grid research line. Finally, the topic Thermal energy storage solutions are part of the research line on thermal storage.
Beyond Horizon Europe, there are other European programmes in which battery-related projects have a place. For spin-offs, start-ups, or SMEs with a disruptive technological proposal, the instruments created by the European Innovation Council (EIC) are particularly recommendable. These are the EIC Pathfinder, the EIC Transition, and the EIC Accelerator. The most attractive – but also the most competitive – is undoubtedly the latter.
With a budget of €1.16 billion, the EIC Accelerator supports exclusively individual projects with a maturity level close to commercialisation (TRL 5 to 9). It funds highly innovative projects with very high risk and growth potential. The proposed product, service, or business model must be highly innovative and create new markets or revolutionise existing ones. The next deadlines are 15 June and 5 October 2022.
The 2022 call for LIFE, the EU’s only financial instrument dedicated exclusively to the environment and climate action, will open on 17 May. There are mainly two sub-programmes in which battery projects are eligible: Circular Economy and Quality of Life (in a single-phase ending on 4 October 2022) and Clean Energy Transition (also in a single phase, but with a later closing date of 16 November 2022).
Projects will have a duration of between 24 and 120 months, with a budget of approximately EUR 2 to 10 million. The maximum funding rate is 60 % of the eligible costs.
The Innovation Fund finances up to 60% of the additional investment and operational costs of large-scale projects and up to 60% of the investment costs of small-scale projects. With a budget of €20 billion for the period 2020-2030, it supports innovation in various fields, including energy storage.
The objective is to support highly innovative technologies and large flagship projects in Europe that have the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to share the risk with project promoters.
The call for large-scale projects (those with a CAPEX of more than €7.5 million) closed on 3 March. On 31 March 2022, however, the call for small-scale projects (with a CAPEX of €7.5 million or less) will be launched. Although not yet confirmed, the closing date for this call for projects is expected to be in August this year.
Within the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), the InnoEnergy instrument leads three industrial alliances focused on the decarbonisation of the Old Continent by 2050, one of which is dedicated to battery energy storage (European Battery Alliance, EBA). These support and investment programmes focus particularly on industry and SMEs.
At Zabala Innovation we help you access European funds, find the right funding opportunity for your project from a wide range of programmes and follow the path to get there. We play a leading role by positioning ourselves as experts in all these European funding programmes: in the 2014-2020 period we have submitted more than 900 projects, achieving a win-win for our clients of more than 700 million euros and a success rate of 33%.
In addition, through Kaila, our intelligent platform that integrates the main EU open data sources, you will be able to see in detail the themes of any European funding programme.
Senior consultant in R&D projects
Juan Cristóbal García
Senior Innovation Strategy Consultant
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