Conversion of captured CO2, for example using hydrogen made from renewable energy, to produce fuels is not only a means to replace fossil fuels, but also a promising solution for seasonal energy storage. There are still relevant and significant scientific and technological challenges to be able to exploit the CO2 as a chemical and fuel feedstock in a systematic manner, the main challenge being that the chemical utilisation of CO2 is limited by its low energy content, and the conversion process is highly energy intensive.
Development of energy-efficient and economically and environmentally viable CO2 conversion technologies for chemical energy storage or displacement of fossil fuels that allow for upscaling in the short to medium term. Projects have to substantiate the potential for the proposed CCU solution(s) as CO2 mitigation option through conducting an LCA in conformity with guidelines developed by the Commission or the relevant ISO standard. Proposals have to define ambitious but achievable targets for energy requirements of the conversion process (including catalytic conversion), production costs and product yields, that will be used to monitor project implementation.
Proposals are expected to bring technologies that have reached at least TRL 3-4 to TRL 5-6 (please see part G of the General Annexes). Technology development has to be accompanied by an assessment of the societal readiness towards the proposed innovations. Relevant end users and societal stakeholders will be identified in the proposal, and their concerns and needs will be analysed during the project using appropriate techniques and methods from the social sciences and humanities, in order to create awareness, gain feedback on societal impact and advancing society’s readiness for the proposed solutions.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 3 to 4 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
In line with the strategy for EU international cooperation in research and innovation (COM(2012)497), international cooperation is encouraged, in particular with relevant Mission Innovation countries such as China.
New solutions for the conversion of captured CO2, either from power plants or from carbon-intensive industry, to useful products such as fuels or chemicals for energy storage (CCU) that will create new markets for innovative industrial sectors, diversify the economic base in carbon-intensive regions, as well as contribute to achieving a Circular Economy.
 A Co-funding mechanism is in place in China; see https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/en/news/eu-china-research-and-innovation-co-funding-mechanism-first-call-launched-china
Illustration Photo: Truman Fellow Anne Ruffing looks at a flask of cyanobacteria with precipitated fatty acid floating on top. She has engineered two strains of cyanobacteria to produce free fatty acids, a precursor to fuels, as she studies the direct conversion of carbon dioxide into biofuels by photosynthetic organisms. (credits: Sandia Labs / Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0))