Research, innovation and educational capacities for energy transition
The energy sector is evolving rapidly creating new job opportunities while requiring new skills and expertise to be developed. The challenges are significant. Over the coming years, the growing low-carbon energy sector requires many employees to be educated, trained or re-skilled. At the same time, energy innovation creates a massive need for new talents, able to cope and conduct the energy transition with a systemic approach. Therefore curricula and programmes, including the modules organised in operating environment, need to be upgraded or new ones developed.
Due to their interdisciplinary work in research, innovation, education and training, universities are core stakeholders in Europe's energy transition towards a low carbon society. They also are important change agents that will be instrumental in responding to the above mentioned challenges.
In order that European universities contribute fully to the objectives of the Energy Union and to the SET Plan they need to cooperate further with innovative businesses and offer appropriate curricula/programmes. To do so silos need to be broken between energy technologies and interdisciplinarity that is conducive to addressing the challenges of the whole energy system needs to be fostered. The appropriate skills for tackling the energy transition, going beyond separate technologies and incorporating social, entrepreneurial/managerial and market aspects of the energy system, need to be developed.
In addition, solutions need to be clearly targeted, oriented to meet skills needs quickly, easily replicable in other domains and scalable to other European universities/institutions. For this purpose it is crucial to have active networks in place among universities and between universities and business.
Proposals will cover one or more of the following fields:
- Renewable energy,
- Energy storage,
- Smart and flexible energy systems,
- Carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS).
Proposals will combine the relevant scientific and technological elements of these fields with relevant social sciences and humanities in a way that is balanced and provides an interdisciplinary approach (e.g. involving SSH scientists as partners; including SSH scientific subjects as parts of interdisciplinarity, developing special SSH curricula or similar).
Proposals will deliver all the following, addressing the specific needs of the SET Plan objectives and its Implementation Plans:
- Efficient and effective cooperation networks both among European universities and between European universities and business;
- Challenge and case-based modules that are linked to European university programmes (at least three per programme) to teach students about operational problems combining the social, technological and industrial dimensions;
- At least three innovative (such as using digitisation) and short (3-4 months) university tools/programmes in the chosen field or fields, which are replicable and scalable in Europe, and respond rapidly to urgent European industry needs and the rapidly evolving European energy landscape;
- Opportunities for student mobility between the academia and industry.
The networks will also address needs for training the trainers. However, except for piloting, the actual teaching or training the trainer activities remain outside the scope of this topic. Modules and programmes will only be developed in English.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 2 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.
The funded proposals are expected to lead to a generation of researchers and engineers who are equipped to develop, improve and deploy new energy technologies, thereby contributing to meeting the challenges of the energy transition.
At the same time, the capacities of the European universities in energy research, innovation and education will be enhanced, as will their ability to engage with industry, cities, regions and other key societal actors. This will increase European universities' abilities to facilitate the swift deployment of technological and non-technological innovations in the energy sector.
Socio-economic science and humanities