Research & Innovation - Participant Portal


TOPIC : Converting Sunlight to storable chemical energy

Topic identifier: LC-SC3-RES-29-2019
Publication date: 27 October 2017
Focus area: Building a low-carbon, climate resilient future (LC)

Types of action: RIA Research and Innovation action
Planned opening date:
07 May 2019
Deadline: 27 August 2019 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020 H2020 website
Pillar: Societal Challenges
Work Programme Year: H2020-2018-2020
Work Programme Part: Secure, clean and efficient energy
Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

To replace fossil energy with sustainable alternatives that provide the same flexibility and convenience of use, we need to store sustainable energy on a large scale and for a long time in new kind of energy storage compounds. This can be done by direct conversion of sunlight into storable chemicals that can be stored for a virtually unlimited time. At present, these processes can be performed at the level of small prototype devices at high cost. Therefore, research and innovation are needed to bring these approaches from infancy to maturity. The production of clean forms of storable chemical energy from direct sunlight is the next step.

Performance breakthroughs, including day and night continuous processes, and cost reductions are a must in order to unlock the potential of technologies converting sunlight to storable chemical energy.

This challenge is fully aligned to the "Converting Sunlight Innovation Challenge"[1] identified as a priority in Mission Innovation.


Proposals are expected to address renewable energy technologies that will answer the challenge described in the "Converting Sunlight Innovation Challenge" of Mission Innovation, bringing them up to TRL 4 or 5. Beside the technological development, the proposal will have to clearly address the following related aspects: the potential lower environmental impact than the current technologies, possibly through a LCA analysis, the better resource efficiency, issues related to social acceptance or resistance to new energy technologies, related socioeconomic and livelihood issues, and prospective market analysis. The proposal needs to consider all three dimensions of sustainability, resource efficiency and scalability, i.e. not using materials which are uncommon, dangerous or scarce that could disable its future concept to be used at large scale.

At least one of the following technology-specific challenges has to be addressed:

  • Improved light-harvesting and efficient charge separation in photocatalytic systems;
  • Photoelectrochemical cells – PECs and catalyst development;
  • Thermochemical pathways to energy rich chemicals (using concentrated solar light); and
  • Design and engineering of devices, systems or prototypes integrating together the different processes, with day and night control and applicability for the production of chemical energy rich carriers.

The area of electrolysers efficiently utilizing a renewable electricity input, such as provided by photovoltaics, wind turbines or other sustainable means, is not covered by this challenge.

The proposal must have a plausible pathway to scale the technology to the terawatt scale by 2050, a plausible potential for an EROI > 10 (EROI: Energy returned on energy invested) and the full recyclability of the conversion devices in the context of a circular economy must be ensured.

As part of Mission Innovation actions, the project will be required to contribute towards the activities of the "Converting Sunlight Innovation Challenge". Beside solving the technical challenge, the consortium is expected to budget the participation in the development of the Challenge work plan through activities such as dissemination, exchange of researcher and networking as well as through contributing in official meetings.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 2 to 3 million would allow this challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact:

Projects will not only contribute to mitigating climate change through the production of storable chemical energy from the sun, but also enhance energy security and provide opportunities for economic development across the globe.

Projects should show its contribution towards establishing a solid European innovation base and building a sustainable renewable energy system.

Contributing to Mission Innovation aims, projects will deepen the international collaboration in clean energy research and development.

Delegation Exception Footnote:

It is expected that this topic will continue in 2020.

Cross-cutting Priorities:

Socio-economic science and humanities
Clean Energy
International cooperation


Topic conditions and documents

1. Eligible countries: described in Annex A of the Work Programme.
A number of non-EU/non-Associated Countries that are not automatically eligible for funding have made specific provisions for making funding available for their participants in Horizon 2020 projects. See the information in the Online Manual.


2. Eligibility and admissibility conditions: described in Annex B and Annex C of the Work Programme.

Due to the specific challenges associated with this topic (in case of topic LC-SC3-ES-6-2019 this refers only to sub-topic 4) and the international focus of the Mission Innovation initiative, in addition to the minimum number of participants set out in the General Annexes, proposals shall include at least one participant from a non-EU/Associated country member of Mission Innovation (i.e. Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, People’s Republic of China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, United States). Standard rules on eligibility for EU funding apply.

Proposal page limits and layout: please refer to Part B of the proposal template in the submission system below.


3. Evaluation:

  • Evaluation criteria, scoring and thresholds are described in Annex H of the Work Programme.
  • Submission and evaluation processes are described in the Online Manual.

4. Indicative time for evaluation and grant agreements:

Information on the outcome of evaluation (single-stage call): maximum 5 months from the deadline for submission.
Signature of grant agreements: maximum 8 months from the deadline for submission.

5. Proposal templates, evaluation forms and model grant agreements (MGA):

Research and Innovation Action:

Specific provisions and funding rates
Standard proposal template
Standard evaluation form
General MGA - Multi-Beneficiary
Annotated Grant Agreement

6. Additional provisions:

Horizon 2020 budget flexibility
Classified information
Technology readiness levels (TRL) – where a topic description refers to TRL, these definitions apply

Members of consortium are required to conclude a consortium agreement, in principle prior to the signature of the grant agreement.

7. Open access must be granted to all scientific publications resulting from Horizon 2020 actions.

Where relevant, proposals should also provide information on how the participants will manage the research data generated and/or collected during the project, such as details on what types of data the project will generate, whether and how this data will be exploited or made accessible for verification and re-use, and how it will be curated and preserved.

Open access to research data
The Open Research Data Pilot has been extended to cover all Horizon 2020 topics for which the submission is opened on 26 July 2016 or later. Projects funded under this topic will therefore by default provide open access to the research data they generate, except if they decide to opt-out under the conditions described in Annex L of the Work Programme. Projects can opt-out at any stage, that is both before and after the grant signature.

Note that the evaluation phase proposals will not be evaluated more favourably because they plan to open or share their data, and will not be penalised for opting out.

Open research data sharing applies to the data needed to validate the results presented in scientific publications. Additionally, projects can choose to make other data available open access and need to describe their approach in a Data Management Plan.

Projects need to create a Data Management Plan (DMP), except if they opt-out of making their research data open access. A first version of the DMP must be provided as an early deliverable within six months of the project and should be updated during the project as appropriate. The Commission already provides guidance documents, including a template for DMPs. See the Online Manual.

Eligibility of costs: costs related to data management and data sharing are eligible for reimbursement during the project duration.

The legal requirements for projects participating in this pilot are in the article 29.3 of the Model Grant Agreement.


8. Additional documents:

1. Introduction WP 2018-20
10. Secure, clean and efficient energy WP 2018-20
18. Dissemination, Exploitation and Evaluation WP 2018-20

General annexes to the Work Programme 2018-2020

Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Regulation of Establishment
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Rules for Participation
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Specific Programme



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