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Germany: Research Initiative Project to Explore Use of Solar Energy in a Circular Economy

Editor: Alexander Stark

The European research project Sunrise pursues an ambitious scientific-technical approach for the conversion and storage of solar energy as a sustainable alternative to the fossil production of fuels and basic chemicals. Sunrise was selected as one of six Coordination & Support Actions (CSA) in the Horizon 2020 Program and is funded with $ 1.1 million over a period of one year beginning in spring 2019.

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Sunrise is to facilitate the transition to a circular economy and a carbon neutral society.
Sunrise is to facilitate the transition to a circular economy and a carbon neutral society.
(Source: Sunrise)

Jülich/Germany — Six CSA projects have been selected for the 2018 call “Fetflag-01-2018” within one of the three main research areas proposed: Information and communication technology (ICT) and Connected Society; Health and Life Sciences; and Energy, Environment and Climate Change. These actions aim at preparing new European large scale research initiatives to be potentially supported in the next European research and innovation framework programme, Horizon Europe. The selected proposals are urged to set the basis for large visionary, science-driven, long-term research projects focused on addressing the major European societal challenges and turning scientific advances into concrete innovation opportunities, growth and jobs.

Sunrise, as part of the Energy, Environment and Climate Change area, gathers players from academia, industry, policy-making and society to prepare a strategic long-term research roadmap and a consolidated vision of a future large research project. The project aims at providing a sustainable alternative to the fossil-based, energy-intensive production of fuels and chemicals, based on solar energy conversion and widely available feedstock (CO2, H2O, N2). A sustainable CO2 cycle, which leads to an atmospheric CO2 concentration decrease and stabilisation at a level compatible with climate stability, is the main target behind this approach, which also aims for a sustainable use of land and natural resources to implement a circular economy.

Sunrise is to facilitate the transition to a circular economy and a carbon neutral society.
Sunrise is to facilitate the transition to a circular economy and a carbon neutral society.
(Source: Sunrise)

The goal of the project is to change the way fuels are produced, and provide chemicals and much more for the circular economy with very high yield directly from abundant solar energy and atmospheric gases. In the foreseeable future, a portfolio of SUNRISE technologies will fuel carbon neutral industries in smart liveable cities that go well beyond current imagination. We will provide seasonal energy storage in a zero waste society while reducing CO2 emissions.

Sunrise is coordinated by Prof. Huub de Groot from Leiden University (the Netherlands) and brings together a multidisciplinary consortium of 20 partners from 13 European countries. The consortium includes: seven universities (Leiden University, University of Uppsala, Imperial College London, University of Turku, University of Warsaw, Norwegian University of Science and Technology and University of Louvain); eight research centres (French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), Italian National Research Council (CNR), Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa), Imdea Energy Institute, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Forschungszentrum Jülich, J. Heyrovský Institute of Physical Chemistry and Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia); two European associations (European Energy Research Alliance, EERA; Energy Materials Industrial Research Initiative, Emiri); and three companies (Siemens, Johnson Matthey and Engie).

At the end of the CSA, the project community will release a blueprint for the implementation of the large-scale initiative, including a description of the short to long-term objectives, resources needed and the criteria to be followed for being an open, inclusive and cross-disciplinary effort following the Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) principles.

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