Turning sunlight to sustainable fuel: Commission launches EIC Horizon Prize for Artificial Photosynthesis

Brussels, 12 December 2017

The European Commission has launched the second of six European Innovation Council (EIC) Horizon Prizes, on Artificial Photosynthesis, run under Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme.

EIC - Fuel from the Sun The €5 million award will go to a new solution for combining sunlight, water and carbon from the air through artificial photosynthesis that will produce sustainable fuel. The competition was opened during the high-level One Planet Summit convened by French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.

Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "Europe is the world leader in innovative clean energy solutions that help tackle climate change. This new prize and other EIC Horizon Prizes will move these efforts up a gear by challenging bright minds to think outside the box and come up with novel technologies that improve our daily lives and help protect the planet."

Artificial photosynthesis, considered one of the most promising breakthrough technologies for producing clean energy, mimics the process of natural photosynthesis. By absorbing solar energy in the form of photons it produces fuels that can be stored and transported. Once fully developed, this technology will provide sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels for a range of applications in industry, housing and transport.

The prize is part of the EU's efforts to double investments in clean energy-related research and innovation by 2020 under the international Mission Innovation initiative. In particular, it will contribute to Mission Innovation Challenge "Converting sunlight into storable solar fuels". The contestants will have to build a fully functional, experimental prototype device of a fuel production system, integrating the entire artificial photosynthesis process from light capture to fuel production. The deadline for applications is 3 February 2021. More information, including the Rules of Contest, is available on the EIC website.

Background

The 2018-2020 Work Programme of Horizon 2020, published on 27 October 2017, introduced measures to support market-creating innovation through a pilot phase of the European Innovation Council (EIC). With a budget of €2.7 billion, the EIC pilot brings together existing instruments such as the SME Instrument, Inducement Prizes, Future and Emerging Technologies, and Fast Track to Innovation.

EIC Horizon Prizes are particularly ambitious as they are expected to trigger innovations in areas where important societal problems need to be solved. These Prizes call for breakthrough solutions which should demonstrate their feasibility or potential so that innovators can take them quickly to the market.

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