Co-creating and designing future prizes for renewable energy technologies under Horizon Europe
The European Union’s climate ambitions require a deep and rapid transition to the use of a wide range of renewable energy sources. In pursuit of this goal, Horizon Europe – the EU’s flagship research & innovation programme – will introduce recognition and inducement prizes. The prizes will recognise and stimulate innovations in the field of renewable energy technologies (RET). With that in mind, Ecorys, together with WIP and Carbon Counts, has been commissioned to conduct a study on prize development for renewable energy systems, which aims at delivering five prize designs.
The given scope for RETs is wide, including photovoltaics, concentrated solar power, renewable heating and cooling, wind power, bioenergy, geothermal, ocean energy system, renewable fuels, and hydropower. The study will facilitate the delivery of prizes that will be impactful for RET and contribute to the energy transition. The first step will be to learn from past prize experiences of Horizon 2020, such as good practices and challenges, and take lessons for future prize design. Building on this, the project team will identify ten prize concepts covering various RETs. Ultimately the five most-fitting prizes will be selected, and fully designed, including a communication strategy and tailor-made communication plans for each designed prize.
The approach follows some key principles. These include a strong knowledge of RET, a thorough understanding of prize design, impartiality to ensure the independent review of past lessons, design of the criteria, selection of the new prizes, effective and anticipated communication, and finally a co-creation approach. Inputs of stakeholders will be key, either from past-prize contestants or RET experts. Therefore, in a webinar presenting the new study, stakeholders were invited and given dedicated time for their feedback on the study. In addition, they had the opportunity to describe their own experience briefly. For instance, a participant indicated that prizes might be useful to take an administrative burden off the shoulders of innovators compared to grants. However, due to the uncertainty of the award, developing a business plan can take considerable time and effort. Stakeholders are now encouraged to participate in a survey and interviews about past prizes to provide their insights and allow making the best out of the new prizes.