08. 02. 2019

The project SUNRISE or “Solar Energy for a Circular Economy,” prepared in cooperation of seven European universities and eight research centres including J. Heyrovsky Institute of Physical Chemistry of the CAS, has been selected by the European Commission as one of the six Coordination and Support Actions (CSA) within the Horizon 2020 programme. The aim of the project is an ambitious employment of solar energy and widely available materials in production of fuels and chemicals, hoping to replace energy-intensive production based on oil and coal.

SUNRISE will set the basis for a European large-scale research project in the area of solar energy conversion and storage. It gathers players from academic, industrial, as well as political domains to prepare a long-term research plan focused on conversion of solar energy and widely available feedstock (carbon dioxide, water, atmospheric nitrogen) into fuels and base chemicals.

The outcome will be a sustainable alternative to current fossil-based, energy-intensive processes. The main goal of the project is to reach a sustainable CO2 cycle, leading to an atmospheric CO2 concentration decrease and stabilisation at a level compatible with climate stability. It also strives for a sustainable use of land and natural resources to implement a circular economy.

“SUNRISE goal 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,” said Professor Huub de Groot from Leiden University, Netherlands, who serves as the coordinator of SUNRISE.

Implementation plan will be ready next year

The project is prepared by a consortium of 20 partners from 13 European countries, consisting of 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 GmbH, J. Heyrovský Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences, 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 AG, Johnson Matthey and Engie).

For a period of one year, starting in spring 2019, SUNRISE fill be funded with 1 million euros. At the end of this period, the consortium will release a blueprint for the implementation of the project, including a description of both short-term and long-term objectives, as well as necessary resources.

Prepared by: Milan Pohl, Department of Media Communication of the Head Office of the CAS, based on a press release by SUNRISE
Photo: iStock – Romolo Tavani