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Info materials 07 February 2022

Joint EERA-EoCoE position paper on HPC for Energy

A paper on Exascale and the great opportunity it represents for the Clean Energy Transition in Europe

Given the positive auspices of the EU policy agenda in the energy sector linking the strategy to accelerate decarbonisation with the adoption of digital technologies, the European Energy Research Alliance (EERA) jointly with the Energy oriented Center of Excellence (EoCoE) presents to the European Commission this position paper on Exascale, a great opportunity for Clean Energy Transition in Europe.

As Europe is working towards a decarbonized energy ecosystem, with a clear vision and goals set by the European Green Deal, EERA and EoCoE have identified a blind spot: energy domain scientists do not take full advantage of the potential that HPC-fueled simulations can offer to their work. This situation is the result of a lack of HPC related expertise available to scientists.

To this end, EERA has recently created a transversal Joint Programme “Digitalisation for Energy” that allows a wide range of scientists in the energy domain to access the considerable expertise amassed through previous cross-domain collaborations between application experts and domain scientists explored in the project EoCoE. Currently, a few pilot collaborations are already established via this Joint Programme (in materials modelling, hydropower and energy systems integration) and more are to follow.

The position paper aims to trigger suitable coordination actions and funding decisions from the European Commission and Member States to support the development of tuned data models and simulation codes for energy thematic areas, while making use of the latest technology in High-Performance Computing (HPC) and Data management becoming available at EU level: the Exascale generation. The paper explores the role played by digital tools tuned for the energy sector in support of the transition towards climate neutrality. 

As a preview of what the position paper entails, below are the main recommendations that EoCoE and EERA  convey to EU and national funding authorities as well as to research and innovation stakeholders:

I)

Current situation

Lack of a unified contact point to discuss HPC and digitalization in the framework of the energy transition, as several European policy DGs cover an aspect of the topic.

Recommendation

Improve coordination at EU level in the context of funding programmes on HPC and digitalisation for energy transition to clean energy sources.

Having a clear contact point to discuss HPC-fuelled simulations at DG Energy, and, in the same spirit, it would be ideal to have a dedicated contact point at DG Connect to discuss energy-specific applications.

II)

Current situation

Without a clear policy framework that links HPC technological innovations with suitable Energy applications, funding is directed to support either scientific or computing advancements with no support for trans-disciplinary collaborations and knowledge transfer to industry.

Recommendation

Structure and consolidate expertise in the energy scientific community at EU level, and even more so where transdisciplinary collaborations are to be encouraged. Long-term planning for investments in HPC for Energy is a must.

Keeping in-house experts on long-term contracts, thus limiting loss of knowledge and skills, would allow scientific teams to position themselves more comfortably for stable cooperation and collaborative endeavours, therefore significantly increasing their scientific output.

III)

Current situation

The Energy-oriented Centre of Excellence opened the path for four Energy application domains to collaborate with mathematicians, computer scientists and computational scientists in order to design the best computer workflows for their scientific challenge. The funding is directed to applications that require huge amounts of computational power, whereas many other use cases would also require this collaborative work to be supported.

Recommendation

Align Energy application domains with HPC technologies in order to maintain current trans-disciplinary collaborations as the source of expertise for improved scientific advancements.

EERA’s transversal Joint Programme ‘Digitalisation for Energy’ relies, thus, on an evolution of the funding schemes coming from the energy application domains as an important step towards achieving the programme’s goals. Having the energy application domains dedicate funding to activities in line with the programme’s objectives would strengthen the whole endeavour, as it would send a clear signal to Energy application domain teams that joining forces with HPC-focused teams is a widely accepted path towards expanding their work and maximizing their impact. 

For the scientific community, this paper is a clear call for increasing the use of HPC in addressing a range of R&I challenges in clean energy research. For the policymakers, it provides key recommendations for improved funding and coordination of actions, fostering HPC excellence and competitiveness in the EU.

Adel El Gammal, EERA Secretary General

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