Horizon Europe is the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation. It tackles climate change and boosts the EU’s competitiveness and growth.
It provides support to researchers and innovators to drive systemic changes to ensure a green, healthy and resilient EU. 35% of its expenditure will support Europe’s climate objectives. Pillar II and III of Horizon Europe are of specific interest for the deployment of low carbon industry applications and breakthrough technologies, including hydrogen. It is important to keep in mind that projects generally involve a research and innovation element, due to the objective of Horizon Europe.
New elements in Horizon Europe
European Innovation Council: support for innovations with breakthrough potential and of disruptive nature with scale-up potential that may be too risky for private investors. This is 70% of the budget earmarked for SMEs.
Missions: set of measures to achieve bold, inspirational and measurable goals within a set timeframe. There are 5 main mission areas of Horizon Europe.
Open science policy: mandatory open access to publications and open science principles are applied throughout the programme factsheet: Open science in Horizon Europe.
New approach to partnerships: objective-driven and more ambitious partnerships with industry in support of EU policy objectives.
It aims at supporting the creation and better diffusion of excellent knowledge and technologies, to create jobs, boost economic growth and promote industrial competitiveness, as well as optimise investment impact
within a strengthened European Research Area. The objective is to transform Europe into a leader in innovation and entrepreneurship.
Horizon Europe consists of 3 Pillars, dedicated to excellent science (Pillar I), global challenges and European industrial competitiveness (Pillar II) and Innovative Europe (Pillar III). Pillars II and III are of specific interest for deployment of low carbon industry applications and breakthrough technologies, including hydrogen.
- A significant part of Pillar II (budget of €53.5 billion) will be implemented through European partnerships that are set up based on memoranda of understanding or contractual arrangements between the Commission and the partners. They have their separate work programmes, to bring forward the transition towards circular and low carbon industry in applied research clusters. Cluster 4 ‘Digital, Industry & Space’ and Cluster 5 ‘Climate, Energy & Mobility’ are of specific interest for advanced manufacturing and breakthrough technologies for decarbonisation.
- Pillar III includes the European Innovation Council (budget of €10 billion) that is covered by a separate work programme. It aims to foster all forms of innovation, including non-technological innovation, by facilitating technological development, demonstration and knowledge transfer, and strengthen deployment of innovative solutions. It supports individual small and medium enterprises (SMEs), with 70% of the budget earmarked for SMEs, in particular start-ups and spinout companies that develop and scale up game-changing innovations. Breakthrough and market-creating innovation are financed through grants followed by equity via two instruments – the Pathfinder for Advanced Research (from early tech to proof of concept) and the Accelerator (from early commercial phase to market scale up).
The EIC Accelerator provides substantial financial support with grant funding of up to €2.5 million for innovation development costs, investments (direct equity investments) of up to €15 million managed by the EIC Fund for scale-up and other relevant costs.
It is important to keep in mind that projects must generally involve a research & innovation element, as this is the objective of Horizon Europe. Supported projects tackle societal challenges with an emphasis on EU industrial leadership, recovery, and the green deal, including hydrogen technologies.
The type of actions supported by Horizon Europe include networking and coordination, research, innovation, pilot actions, market deployment actions (first deployment, as commercial activities are not supported), training and mobility, and dissemination and exploitation of results.
What type of hydrogen related actions can be funded
Horizon Europe can support a wide range of hydrogen actions, covering all stages of the project life cycle
- research and innovation projects (including applied research, technology development and integration, testing, demonstration and validation of a small-scale prototype in a laboratory or simulated environment)
- innovation actions (including prototyping, testing, demonstrating, piloting, large-scale product validation and market replication)
- innovation and market deployment (activities necessary to deploy an innovation on the market, including the scaling-up of companies)
- testing and demonstration of hydrogen technologies in industrial environments through Open Innovation Test Beds (OITB)
The cluster ‘Climate, energy and mobility’ of Pillar II is of particular relevance for hydrogen activities, along with its dedicated Clean Hydrogen Partnership, and the European Innovation Council support for the deployment of innovative solutions in Pillar III. Other clusters, public and private partnerships (PPPs) and missions in Pillar II may provide additional opportunities for applied research activities. Details are reported in the next sections.
Pillar II - global challenges and European industrial competitiveness: it covers specifically the research and innovation partnerships with industry, which are objective-driven partnerships between the European Commission, EU countries, industry and other relevant stakeholders. The applications of hydrogen are numerous and the partnerships which deal with such applications of hydrogen are listed below.
- The Clean Hydrogen Partnership –The institutional public private partnership aims to roll out hydrogen technologies at scale, building on the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking’s achievements (funded by Horizon 2020). It aims to accelerate development and deployment of European clean hydrogen technologies, contributing to a sustainable, decarbonised and fully integrated energy system. It will focus on production, distribution and storage of clean hydrogen to supply hard-to-decarbonise sectors such as heavy industries and heavy-duty transport applications. Some objectives by 2030 are: produce clean hydrogen at ~€1.5-3/kg, with efficiency improvement and lowering CAPEX costs. This also assumes the availability of renewable electricity at favourable prices, as well as allowing penetration into mass markets, and reducing distribution costs to less than €1/kg of hydrogen at scale. €1 billion has been proposed as budget under the Clean Hydrogen Partnership.
The design, development and diffusion across Europe of hydrogen valleys is a flagship priority of the Clean Hydrogen Partnership. Further initiatives will support the development of networks of hydrogen valleys building on the multisector use of green hydrogen.
It will notably include regions not yet hydrogen friendly as targets, to allow for full EU coverage, with a view to further link these nodes through green corridors, whether by pipes, rail, waterways, maritime or road, provided that the transport will also be green. Specific attention will cover linking R&I outcomes to preparation for deployment, including looking at regulatory frame and involvement of local, regional and national authorities. It supports the hydrogen strategy and will support increasing the autonomy and resilience of the energy system in its transition towards clean energy.
Clean Hydrogen Partnership SRIA Scientific priorities matched by the Annual Work Programme 2022: renewable hydrogen production (€77 million R&I investment, main focus on electrolysers and €25 million for Hydrogen Valleys) = 33.5% of total budget; hydrogen storage and distribution (€49 million R&I investment) = 16.3% of total budget
Hydrogen end uses:
transport applications (€98 million) = 32.6% of total budget – Aviation and Maritime; clean heat and power €24.5 million = 8.1% of total budget
Cross-cutting activities including Hydrogen Valleys (€52 million) = 17% of total budget; €300,000 call published 1 March with two cut off deadlines: 31 May and 20 September 2022.
Planned funding initiatives for 2023 across Horizon Europe and Clean Hydrogen Partnership
Clean Hydrogen Partnership 2023 budget about €200 million (€150 million + €50 million frontloading)
Open Innovation Test Bed (OITB) on Hydrogen Production Technologies (€10 million)
- contribution to European Hydrogen strategy and Green Deal
- services for testing innovative hydrogen production technology leading to technology upscaling, reducing cost, accelerating time to the market, and reducing investment risk
- creation of an industrial ecosystem of green hydrogen production technology providers
Mandatory data reporting clause in all cluster 5 projects with a link to hydrogen or to the Clean Hydrogen Observatory (no budget involved).
Climate impact of the hydrogen economy (€10 million).
No hydrogen topics but where hydrogen is one of the options for R&I activities
- possibly using hydrogen as an end-product (€76 million)
- possibly using hydrogen from renewable energy as an intermediary in the process of making other renewable fuels: (€65 million)
- The European Partnership for Clean Aviation: the institutional partnership aims to put aviation en route to climate neutrality by accelerating the development, integration, and validation of mainly disruptive research and innovation solutions, for deployment as soon as possible. It will also help develop the next generation of ultra-efficient low-carbon aircraft, with novel power sources, engines, and systems, which will emerge from the research and demonstration phase at a high technology readiness level. €735 million in calls launched on 23 March 2022 with deadline of 23 June 2022.
- The European Partnership for transforming Europe's rail system: the institutional partnership aims to accelerate the development and deployment of innovative technologies. It will develop solutions with broad support across the EU – up to 75% market uptake by 2030, improving the competitiveness of rail and support European technological leadership in rail. On 10 March 2022, the first call for proposals of the European Partnership for transforming Europe’s rail system were launched. Europe's Rail is the new European partnership for research and innovation in rail transport, established under Horizon Europe as the successor to the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking. The work programme for the current call provides an EU budget of €234 million for the period 2022-24 (of which €135.7 million for 2022). Proposals for this call can be submitted until 23 June 2022.
- Zero-emission waterborne transport: the co-programmed partnership aims for the EU to lead and accelerate the transformation of maritime and inland waterborne transport to eliminate greenhouse gas, air and water pollutants through innovative technologies and operation. By 2030, the objective is to develop and demonstrate deployable zero-emission solutions which are applicable for all main ship types and services and will enable achievement of zero-emission waterborne transport by 2050. Call launched in December 2021 with deadline of 26 April 2022.
- Zero-emission road transport: The co-programmed partnership aims to accelerate the development of zero-emission transport in Europe. By 2030, the goal is to have wide deployment of zero-emission, affordable user-centric solutions, and CO2 emission reduction and air quality improvements. A major challenge will be the introduction of zero-emission and competitive long distance heavy-duty vehicles. 3 calls published in December 2021 with a deadline of 26 April 2022.
- Built4People: the vision of the co-programmed partnership is high-quality, low-carbon, energy- and resource-efficient built environments which drive the transition towards sustainability. The partnership brings together the whole value chain and it will develop sector-relevant innovation clusters across the EU. Call launched in September 2021 with deadline of January 2022.
- Clean steel – low-carbon steelmaking: the co-programmed partnership supports EU leadership in transforming the steel industry into a carbon-neutral one, serving as a catalyser for other strategic sectors. By 2027, it will implement at least 2 demonstration projects leading to a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions and achieve technology readiness level 8 by 2030 in at least 12 areas funded by the partnership. The final ambition is to reduce CO2 emissions by 80-95% by 2050, ultimately achieving carbon neutrality. Call launched in October 2021.
- Process4Planet:the objective of this co-programmed partnership is to achieve circularity and decarbonisation of European process industries, with a strong focus on competitiveness. Within a cross-sectorial approach, it will develop and deploy the innovations needed for a profound transformation of process industries, e.g., cement, chemical, steel, to achieve the EU Green Deal targets by 2050. The ultimate goal is zero landfilling and water discharge and circular models will be implemented across industrial sectors, value chains and with regions and cities. Call launched in October 2021.
- EU Missions: another key novelty in Horizon Europe are EU Missions, a portfolio of actions across disciplines intended to achieve inspirational and measurable goals within a set timeframe that impact on society and policy-making in Europe. Of interest for hydrogen, specific missions will be programmed within the global challenges and European industrial competitiveness pillar, and complement actions carried out under other programmes. Up to 10% of the Pillar II budget for the first three years of the programme could be reserved for Missions. Out of 5 Missions, one is specifically relevant for hydrogen:
- Missions on Climate Neutral & Smart Cities, to make cities climate neutral by 2030. The targets by 2030 is to support, promote and showcase 100 European cities in their systemic transformation to climate neutrality and turn these cities into innovation hubs, improving quality of life and sustainability in Europe.
The Cities Mission will involve local authorities, citizens, businesses, investors as well as regional and national authorities to deliver 100 climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030 and ensure that these cities act as experimentation and innovation hubs to enable all European cities to follow suit by 2050.
As foreseen in its implementation plan, the Cities Mission takes a cross-sectoral and demand-led approach, creating synergies between existing initiatives and basing its activities on the actual needs of cities.
The first call runs from 11 January 2022 – 26 April 2022, with an overall indicative budget of €117 million.
The second call runs from 28 April 2022 – 6 September 2022, with an indicative budget of €42 million.
Horizon Europe is structured around a four-year strategic planning document (Strategic Planning 2021-2024) that outlines funding priorities. It includes the content of the specific work programmes, including their timelines, budgets, scope and participation rules. See the work programmes, once published.
Horizon Europe will have a budget of around €95.5 billion for 2021-2027 (in current prices). This long-term certainty ensure complementarity with national, regional, or private investments. This includes €5.4 billion from NextGenerationEU to boost the economic recovery and make the EU more resilient for the future, as well as an additional reinforcement of €4.5 billion.
The Commission provides funding in forms of grants, prizes and procurement to excellent researchers to promote their activities. It also provides funding to develop research infrastructure.
Conditions for application
Funding under Horizon Europe is done through open, competitive calls for proposals (also for European Partnerships and missions), as specified in the biannual work programmes.
Who is eligible for participation?
- Any legal entity (natural person or legal person with legal personality), regardless of place of establishment and including legal entities from non-associated third countries or international organisations. This includes researchers and innovators (also individuals), universities, research organisations, companies and consortia.
- Legal consortia must include at least one independent legal entity established in an EU country, and at least two other independent legal entities each established in different EU countries or associated countries.
Who is eligible for funding?
- Legal entities that are established in an EU country or an associated country.
- Entities from non-associated third countries will bear the costs of their participation.
Specific conditions are set out in the call for proposals of the specific work programme and the specific action.
How to apply and when
The timeline for the calls and the application process are defined in the work programmes and the calls. If a one stage submission is the general rule, there is also the possibility of a two-stage submission.
The time to grant general rule is:
- 5 months maximum for informing all applicants of the outcome of the evaluation of their application since the final date for submission of complete proposals
- 8 months maximum for signing grant agreements with applicants from the final date for submission of complete proposals
The process may be accelerated via:
- The definition of shorter periods for the evaluation of signing of the grant agreement.
- The use of a fast-track procedure (FTRI) that allows access to funds for small collaborative consortia in six months maximum, to select research and innovation actions or innovation actions under the pillar ‘Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness’ and the EIC Pathfinder. In that case support cannot exceed € 2.5 million.
For the European partnerships, once established, each one will have its own programme of joint activities.
Proposals will be evaluated by independent external experts on the basis of excellence, impact, as well as quality and efficiency of the implementation.
For European Innovation Council (EIC) support, the level of risk of the action that would prevent investments, the quality and efficiency of the implementation, and the need for Union support, will also be taken into consideration. The overall coherence of the portfolio of projects is also relevant for the EIC Pathfinder.
The details on the weighting of the proposals, the thresholds, and the way to deal with the ex-aequo proposals, will be provided by the specific work programme and related calls.
Payment modalities for grants, blending, procurements, prizes and other types of support are defined in the financial regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Union. Financial regulation applicable to the general budget of the Union - Publications Office of the EU (europa.eu)
Specific Work Programmes under Horizon Europe are published on the Funding and Tenders portal
Regulation Horizon Europe 2021/695
Horizon Europe | European Commission (europa.eu)
Horizon Europe Strategic Plan 2021 – 2024
European partnership webpage and partnerships contacts Cluster 5 and Cluster 4
Calls of the Clean Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (formerly the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking) Call for Proposals | Clean Hydrogen JU
European Innovation Council projects in your region or geographic area
European Research and Innovation Days | Research and Innovation (europa.eu)
Example(s) of supported projects
1) H2020 projects in the Greed Deal Call supporting hydrogen
€90 million Green Deal Call to develop and demonstrate 100 MW electrolyser upscaling the link between renewables and commercial/industrial applications.
Develop and demonstrate 100 MW electrolysers upscaling the link between renewables and industrial applications
Total cost €
€ EU Contribution
Clean Refinery Hydrogen for Europe
100 MW Green hydrogen production in a replicable and scalable industrial hosting environment
100 MW flexible green hydrogen production process sourcing hybrid renewable energy & supplying green hydrogen to multiple end uses
Since there are no projects at this stage yet that have been financed by Horizon Europe, the section below reports as examples the European Green Deal call, which includes as thematic area the demonstration of 100 MW electrolysers, as well as an example of successful large scale demonstration project that has been funded under Horizon 2020.
Call title: The European Green Deal
Description: In October 2020, The European Commission tabled €1 billion under Horizon 2020 to respond to the climate crisis, provide more protection to Europe’s biodiversity and habitats under threat, and accelerate a sustainable recovery. The call contains 20 topics spread in 10 thematic areas directly linked with the objectives and work streams of the European Green Deal. In addition to providing concrete, innovative solutions, the call also aimed to improve our knowledge with respect to climate action and sustainability issues as well as to strengthen the engagement of citizens in the European Green Deal objectives.
The call achieved an impressive response from the research and innovation community. 1550 proposals were submitted in total involving over 100 countries across the globe. The total amount requested by the 1550 proposals amounted to over €16 billion.
In total, there are 72 proposals proposed for funding involving almost 1800 participants and requesting an EU contribution of €974 million.
Hydrogen topic: One of the topics under the thematic area 2 ‘Clean, affordable and secure energy’ is the development of a 100 MW electrolyser upscaling the link between renewables and industrial applications. It is expected that selected proposals under this topic will install a 100MW electrolyser as a symbiotic, industrial platform capable of replicating across Europe. This would be a significant blueprint to advance the strategic objective of the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance and contribute to the pipeline of viable investment projects on renewable and low carbon hydrogen.
EU contribution: N.A., since completion of the grant agreement preparation is still ongoing and grant agreement is expected in Q3 2021.
Level of EU funding: N.A. since evaluation is still ongoing
Link to call (closed):the European Green Deal call
2) Hydrogen Mobility Europe 2
Description: Hydrogen Mobility Europe 2 (H2ME 2) brings together action in 8 European countries to address the innovations required to make the hydrogen mobility sector truly ready for market. The project performs a large-scale market test of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure, passenger and commercial fuel cell electric vehicles operated in real-world customer applications and demonstrates the system benefits generated by using electrolytic hydrogen solutions in grid operations. It develops an attractive proposition around range extended vehicles and supports a major roll-out of 1,000 of these vehicles to customers in France, Germany, Scandinavia and the UK. 1,230 new hydrogen fuelled vehicles will be deployed in total, trebling the existing fuel cell fleet in Europe. H2ME 2 also aims to establish the conditions under which electrolytic refuelling stations can play a beneficial role in the energy system and demonstrate the acquisition of real revenues from provision of energy services for aggregated electrolyser-HRS systems at a MW scale in both the UK and France. The project also tests 20 new HRS rigorously at high level of utilisation using the large vehicle deployment. EU contribution: €35 million Level of EU funding: 35% of eligible costs.
Link to project: CORDIS link, Project website
Database of examples
Examples from the Clean Hydrogen Joint Undertaking Clean Hydrogen JU projects
Since its setup in 2008, the FCH Joint Undertaking and its successor the Clean Hydrogen Joint Undertaking have funded 285 research and demonstration projects, with an overall budget of over €2.3 billion.