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News 03 May 2021

Bridging the gap between research and industry: SUPEERA’s pathways on Energy System Integration and Solar Power

Gathering more than 80 participants, this third SUPEERA webinar brought together researchers, policymakers, and representatives from industry-driven platforms to discuss how research and industry can better collaborate to accelerate innovation and uptake of new technologies in the fields of Energy System Integration and Solar Power.

On 28 April, SUPEERA hosted the third webinar of the series “Bringing research and industry closer: Accelerating innovation and uptake of new technologies”, which aims at exploring different technology pathways to reach the Clean Energy Transition (CET). The event was specifically focused on pathways on Solar Power and Energy System Integration and gathered researchers from the EERA community, policymakers, and representatives from industry-driven platforms for a discussion on how academia and industry can better cooperate to accelerate innovation and uptake of new technologies in these specific fields.

This series of SUPEERA webinars has the objective of providing input and suggesting policy measures in support of the CET goals, in preparation of the six in-person workshops that will be organized from September 2021 onwards in order to discuss and start piloting the selected pathways.

Key outcomes of the discussion

The webinar was introduced by Ivan Matejak, SUPEERA Project Coordinator and EERA Operations Director, who gave an overview of the activities conducted within the framework of the project, among which of particular importance is the analysis of the National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs). On the matter, SUPEERA has adopted a quite innovative approach as researchers involved in the project not only analyze the targets, objectives, and measures set by each Member State in its national plan, but they also provide targeted, cross-systemic recommendations to be acted upon and promote a dialogue and cooperation model between industry and energy experts. Matejak concluded his presentation highlighting the key relevance of the NECPs, especially in the context of the National Recovery Plans submitted by Member States within the framework of the Next Generation EU recovery package.

Key findings from the NECPs analysis on the two selected pathways, Solar Power and Energy System Integration, were presented respectively by Mónica de Juan González, EERA Project Manager, and Suvisanna Correia, Research Scientist at VTT and SUPEERA project partner. Alongside the main findings, de Juan González and Correia highlighted best practices and practical examples of EU-level and international collaboration in the two areas focus of the discussion. Among others, the INSHIP and CySTEM projects, as well as international initiatives such as Clean Energy Ministerial and the International Solar Alliance, were mentioned with regards to the Solar Power pathway.

The discussion on the Energy System Integration pathway also benefitted from the perspective of the European Commission, represented in the webinar by Eric Fee, Policy Officer at the Directorate-General for Energy (DG ENER). Fee gave an overview on the latest work and key priorities of the EU Commission in the field, particularly focusing on the “Digitalisation of Energy Action Plan”, whole goal is to develop a competitive market for digital energy services that ensures data privacy and sovereignty.

As the event moved forward, insights related to the pathway on Solar Power were presented by Francesco Roca, Research Manager at ENEA and EERA JP Photovoltaics member, Ricardo Sanchez, Project Coordinator at CIEMAT and EERA JP Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) member, and Roch Drozdowski-Strehl, Vice-Chair of ETIP PV and CEO at IPVF.

During his presentation, Francesco Roca outlined some examples of national initiatives that aim at fostering collaboration between the PV R&I sector and the industry. Roca highlighted the role of IAPI, the Italian network for Photovoltaic R&I pathways, in translating the priorities of the PV Implementation Plan of the SET Plan into a comprehensive Action Plan to make the green transition a reality. For his part, Ricardo Sanchez gave an overview of the main barriers hindering the cooperation between research and industry in the solar energy field. Among the latter, he mentioned a lack of trust of companies, different work paces, and a lack of commercial power plant projects.

Closing the Solar Power topic, Roch Drozdowski-Strehl presented the perspective of industrial-led organisations and outlined key recommendations for Member States to boost the cooperation between R&I and industry. As an example, Drozdowski-Strehl mentioned the implementation of sectorial flagship initiatives that could help the industry to benefit from greater incentives.

Insights regarding the pathway on Energy System Integration were introduced by Laurens de Vries, Associate Professor at TU Delft and EERA JP Energy System Integration Coordinator, and Maria Laura Trafiletti, ETIP SNET Coordinator.

During his intervention, Laurens de Vries provided valuable insights on the importance of Energy System Integration, as well as on the challenges faced in the field, bringing forward PROMOTioN, a H2020 project that developed a complete and feasible vision for the regulation, organization, and financing of a North Sea wind infrastructure. Diving deeper into the needs and challenges of the sector, Maria Laura Trafiletti provided an overview of the experience of ETIP SNET in bridging the gap between research and industry, by outlining identified obstacles and mitigation measures. Trafiletti emphasized the need to foster a much stronger collaboration between private industry and public R&D centers. Such cooperation is essential to enhance synergies between policy-related goals and investment capacities necessary to transform R&D results into industrial deployment.

In light of all interventions, the webinar showed how the relationship between academia and industry still needs further input and development to effectively deliver results. An enhanced cooperation is crucial now more than ever due to the pressure brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. To make the recovery a reality, concrete actions are needed, and knowledge-sharing should be the foundation of this process.

For further information about the topics discussed during the webinar, the recordings and presentations can be found here.

The key outcomes of the first two webinars of the series can be accessed at the following pages: