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European Innovation Council
Call for proposalsClosed

EIC Pathfinder challenge: Novel routes to green hydrogen production


Publication date
Opening date
Deadline model
Deadline date
27 October 2021, 17:00 (CEST)


The development of efficient, sustainable and flexible energy systems is a key challenge for Europe’s energy decarbonisation and a corner stone of Europe’s 2050 climate-neutrality goal, set out in the European Green Deal. To achieve such viable energy system, a particular support should be given to solutions aimed at increasing lifetime and decrease the cost of the overall system. In this context, Hydrogen (H2) has the potential to contribute to the above mentioned objectives.Currently H2 is largely produced from fossil fuels, commonly referred to as grey H2, or promising but still expensive blue H2 options, combining methane-to- H2 with carbon capture and storage, or renewable H2 pathways (green H2), entirely based on renewable electricity. Referring to green H2 production, the state of art technology is based on water electrolysis, with costs still higher than grey H2 and production processes affected by the use of critical raw materials.

This Pathfinder Challenge aims at developing novel processes and technologies to produce green H2, at different scales (from small to large) and capturing cross sectorial coupling and system integration opportunities, entirely based on (i) renewable sources and (ii) non-toxic, non-critical raw materials. It focuses on the potentials of new biological, chemical, and physical routes for green H2 production which could also facilitate the implementation of the circular economy principles, possibly including the co-production of decarbonised chemicals. The specific target is to support the development of innovative technologies and platforms for green H2 production, including both centralised and/or on-demand generation (i.e. at the premises of the end users and for onsite consumption). Reaching these objectives requires multidisciplinary competencies and cross sectorial approaches addressing also environmental, industrial and logistic issues.

Specific conditions for this challenge

In order to apply, your proposal should develop a proof of concept or lab-scale validated innovative green H2 production technology by biological, chemical or physical routes without the deployment of fossil fuels, potentially including the use of salt or waste water, air moisture, biomass or recycled by-products, or the co-production of decarbonised chemicals.

Projects with multidisciplinary and cross sectorial approaches, looking for inspiration, ideas and knowledge in disciplines that are typically not in this kind of research, are particularly welcome. Projects are strongly encouraged to consider the recovery and recycling of by-products and wastes (circular approach), as well as the use of abundant natural resources. The safe and sustainable use of non-critical raw materials is mandatory and the projects should include a full life cycle analysis of the proposed solutions and their impact on Europe’s decarbonisation goals.

For more details, see the EIC Work Programme 2021 and the relevant Challenge Guide.

How to apply

In order to apply, your proposal must meet the general as well as possible specific eligibility requirements for a specific Challenge. Please check for particular elements (e.g. specific application focus or technology) in the respective challenge chapter below. 

The Pathfinder Challenges support collaborative research and innovation from consortia or applications from single legal entities (unless stated otherwise in the specific challenge chapter). In case of a consortium your proposal must be submitted by the coordinator on behalf of the consortium that includes at least two independent legal entities. The legal entities may for example be universities, research organisations, SMEs, start-ups, natural persons. In the case of mono-beneficiary projects, mid-caps and larger companies will not be permitted. 

The call deadline for submitting your proposal is 27 October 2021 at 17h00 Brussels local time. You must submit your proposal via the European Funding & Tender Opportunities Portal.

Sections 1 to 3 of the part B of your proposal, corresponding respectively to the evaluation criteria Excellence, Impact, and Quality and Efficiency of the Implementation, must consist of a maximum of 25 A4 pages. 

You will be informed about the outcome of the evaluation 5 months after call deadline (indicative), and your grant agreement will be signed by 8 months after call deadline (indicative).


15 JUNE 2021
Challenge Guide Novel routes to green hydrogen production - Part I
15 JUNE 2021
Challenge Guide - Part II