Societal Challenge 3: Secure, clean and efficient energy

Research and innovation are needed to develop and improve new, cleaner, low-carbon, efficient energy sources. In the same time, action is needed to speed up the market uptake of these energy technologies and services. 

The EU is an active player in energy policy. Since 2007, the Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan) is the research and innovation part of this policy. It defines a long-term agenda and promotes joint implementation, risk and capacity sharing across Europe. In May 2013, the European Commission has adopted a Communication on "Energy Technologies and Innovation", suggesting measures to streamline research and innovation in the energy field. The EU has also agreed on ambitious energy and climate targets for 2020 with international partners. 

All actions under Societal Challenge 3 will contribute to these goals. Activities cover the full innovation cycle – from 'proof of concept' to applied research, pre-commercial demonstration and market uptake measures. They also exploit synergies with other relevant areas, e.g. information and communication technologies. In addition, the Energy Challenge contributes to the 'Blue Growth' focus area as well as to the Public Private Partnerships Energy-efficient Buildings and Sustainable Process Industries (SPIRE).

Energy and synergies with European Structural Funds

The European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF) will invest up to EUR 90 billion in innovation and research in the period 2014-2020. Besides, between 12% and 20% of the European Regional Development Fund will serve the take-up of energy efficiency and renewable solutions. Therefore, synergies between Horizon 2020 and these other European Union funds are encouraged. 

Towards efficient, low-carbon energy use

The Work Programme 2016-2017 contains two broad calls, on energy efficiency and "competitive low-carbon energy"

Energy Efficiency Call 2016-2017

  • Heating and cooling
  • Engaging consumers towards sustainable energy
  • Buildings
  • Industry, services and products
  • Innovative financing for energy efficiency investments

Competitive Low Carbon Energy Call

  • Towards an integrated EU energy system
  • Renewable energy technologies
  • Enabling the decarbonisation of the use of fossil fuels during the transition to a low carbon economy
  • Social, economic and human aspects of the energy system
  • Supporting the development of a European research area in the field of energy
  • Cross-cutting issues

The Work Programme also includes a SME instrument, a Fast Track to Innovation pilot and numerous "Other Actions". The total budget for both years is 1,34 billion euros.