In the course of a sustainable lifestyle, the use of renewable energies is an important factor. Unlike the fossil energy sources natural gas, coal and crude oil, which represent finite resources and lead to high CO2 emissions when used, renewable energies are based on the use of resources that are regenerative and thus practically infinitely available.
The Energy Union’s strategy aims to make the European Union a world leader in renewable energy. Research and innovation contributions from Horizon2020 are not neglected. The “Clean Energy for all Europeans” project package underpins the EU’s ambitions through a series of proposals and initiatives. One relevant point is the recast of the Renewable Energy Directive, which will allow Member States to unlock the potential of their renewable energy sources and collectively achieve a minimum 27% share of final energy consumption in the Union by 2030 in a cost-effective way.
The challenge is to create an industrial renewable energy sector in the EU that is economically sustainable and competitive in European and global markets in the long term. To this end, it supports activities ranging from participation in the validity of the most promising technologies in the relevant environment to promotion of market introduction through cooperative rather than purely technological activities.
Developing the next generation of renewable energy technologies
Renewable energy technologies, which will form the backbone of the energy system by 2030 and 2050, are still at an early stage of development. These new solutions for energy conversion open up new perspectives. They have a lower environmental impact and reduced greenhouse gas emissions than current renewable energy technologies. Given the pre-competitive nature of such research activities, particular emphasis will be placed on the inclusion of international cooperation opportunities where relevant to the proposal and the area. The following research areas are included in the innovation project:
- Innovative materials for geothermal heat exchangers to maximise energy transfer and improve the overall efficiency of a geothermal plant,
- innovative testing methods and design tools to accelerate the development of wind energy technologies and extend their life,
- sustainable fuels other than hydrogen for energy and transport applications through breakthrough conversion technologies, and
- innovative, highly efficient thin-film photovoltaic concepts taking into account advanced, sustainable and cost-effective materials and processes.
The challenge after Horizon2020 is to develop exceptionally promising and innovative energy solutions with high impact potential for breakthrough and market application. Promoting the adoption of certain promising technologies requires both a focused and an adaptive approach to ensure that investment brings innovation.
Specific areas where coarsely patterned rather than gradual innovation is needed are the integration of renewable energies into intelligent buildings and sustainable fuels. Transparent light energy windows have considerable market potential as they can be installed in existing buildings without having to cover large new areas to generate solar energy. Every glass surface could generate solar power. Since such windows block most of the infrared radiation, they would reduce the need for air conditioning and further reduce energy consumption and operating costs in buildings.
Innovations for renewable energies for implementation at the consumer level
The priorities of these measures vary depending on the number of consumers involved, from individual and residential buildings to industrial plants and urban district systems. The researched solutions holistically consider the energy needs of consumers, from power generation to heating and cooling services, with the aim of developing fossil energy solutions for buildings and urban districts. The solutions should make it possible to consume a significant part of the energy at the place of production, which favours the emergence of energy producers and thus allows consumers to participate in energy conversion.
The proposal provides for a combination of different renewable energy technologies to meet the highest possible share of the electricity, heating and cooling needs of an apartment building or a commercial, public or industrial building. Since the application is operated and managed by the users through installation, their needs and requirements must be taken into account. At the same time, a control system for building management functions, network supply, internal consumption and local storage must be taken into consideration.
Solar energy in future industrial change
The potential of the industrial use of solar energy is still largely untapped. The use of solar energy to provide heat or cooling for industrial processes that require high reliability and high quality of heat and cooling as well as continuous operation requires innovative advances in solar energy technology. Industrial processes may also have to be adapted to the use of solar resources. Actors expect solutions with limited installation, maintenance and operation requirements that are easy to operate.
The expansion and use of renewable energies are therefore not free of conflict. Further challenges remain, for example, the further development of storage technologies for energy, intelligent control of power consumption and general energy savings and efficiency. In summary, the assumption is confirmed that the use of renewable energies makes ecological, social and economic sense.
Author: Kristina Mitrovic
Horizon2020 (2017): Global leadership in renewables. Verfügbar unter:
Horizon 2020, Framework Programme, H2020, FP9, European Union, European Commission, renewables, solar power, emissions