Centre for Environment-friendly Energy Research (FME) in Hydrogen
13 Oct 2021
Date call is made active
24 Nov 2021
Application submission deadline
01 Jul 2022
Earliest permitted project start
01 Dec 2022
Latest permitted project start
30 Nov 2030
Latest permitted project completion
The purpose of the call is to establish a Centre for Environment-friendly Energy Research (FME) specialising in clean hydrogen and hydrogen-based energy carriers, including ammonia. The FME will reinforce and coordinate research and innovation efforts in this field.
Researchers at the centre will work to generate solutions for safe, sustainable and cost-effective production, transport, storage, distribution and use of clean hydrogen and hydrogen-based energy carriers. Clean hydrogen is produced from renewable energy or fossil energy combined with carbon capture and storage.
About the call for proposals
The Norwegian Government has decided that a Centre for Environment-friendly Energy Research (FME) will be established in the field of clean hydrogen and hydrogen-based energy carriers, including ammonia (Proposition No 195 to the Storting (2020-2021)). The FME will be dedicated to work on hydrogen produced from both natural gas and renewable energy to be used in the energy, mobility and industrial sectors. The centre will coordinate and enhance research efforts and education in this field and support the ambitions set out in the Government’s hydrogen roadmap (Report No 36 to the Storting (2020–2021)).
What goals is the centre tasked with achieving?
The following goals apply to the FME scheme.
The centres are to:
- increase value creation and the innovation potential of businesses and administrative bodies that participate in the centres’ activities, as well as in Norwegian society at large;
- contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions nationally and internationally, to more efficient use of energy and more production of renewable energy;
- promote the development of research environments at the forefront of international research that form part of strong national and international networks;
- increase the visibility of the results of the research and promote a knowledge-based debate on environmentally-friendly energy.
The goals for the FME scheme and thematic goals (see the section Relevant thematic areas) and how the centre will contribute to achieving them must be specified in the application.
The centre must have a broad scientific scope
The FME is expected to bring together leading Norwegian research groups in a strong multidisciplinary centre. The centre must also include smaller-scale research groups with specialised expertise in specific areas. An important task for the centre is to ensure a broad scientific reach, an expedient division of tasks and good cooperation between researchers working in the area of hydrogen.
As regards industry partners, there must be a good balance between energy and industrial companies, suppliers and end users and between small and large scale businesses. Good interaction must be facilitated between the various parts of the centre through centre-building activities and activities that ensure proper involvement of user partners.
The use and distribution of resources between the thematic areas and between research actors must be based on the significance of the different areas to achieving the centre’s goals and ensuring optimal utilisation of the country’s overall expertise in the area. It is also particularly important that the centre’s research helps to close gaps in the value chain and both complements and is well coordinated with other initiatives in the field of hydrogen. You can read more about this in the section Delimitation. The distribution of resources must be well balanced between the research organisation responsible for the project and the research partners in the centre.
Revision of the application before signing the contract
We assume that the project in the contract with the Research Council demonstrates that it meets the overall framework for the call as regards the composition of partners, resource allocation, plans etc. We may therefore ask you to amend the application as necessary in line with the conditions before entering into the contract in what we call a revised application.
Applicants must familiarise themselves with the grounds for the call by reading the document Requirements and guidelines – Societal and Industry-oriented Research Centre (the PDF will open in a new window).
The Norwegian-language call for proposals is the legally binding version.
Who is eligible to apply?
The call is open to approved Norwegian research organisations in binding cooperation with partners from other research organisations, trade and industry and the public sector.
See the list of approved Norwegian research organisations.
Private enterprises and, if relevant, public sector actors must participate as user partners.
Who can participate in the project?
Requirements relating to the Project Owner
- The Project Owner must be a research organisation.
- The research organisation defined as the Project Owner in the application form, must have approved submission of the application.
- The Project Owner submits the application on behalf of all the partners.
Requirements relating to project managers
- The project manager must document experience from managing large-scale, complex projects.
- They must also state their availability and the amount of time they expect to spend on the role as project manager.
- The project manager’s scientific expertise and suitability to manage the project will be assessed by the referee panel.
Requirements relating to employment
The project manager must be employed by the Project Owner or one of the partners.
Requirements relating to partners
- The centre will be operated by research organisations in binding cooperation with relevant Norwegian industry partners and potentially also partners from other sectors. For more information about cooperation and roles, see the document Requirements and guidelines – Societal and Industry-oriented Research Centre. You will find a link in the section About the call for proposals.
- The grant application must describe how the project incorporates the strategic objectives of all the partners.
- All partners must actively contribute to planning, following up and disseminating the results generated by the centre and ensure that new knowledge is taken into use.
- The centre must have three or more partners that are not research organisations and that provide funding to the project (user partners). Funding from the Research Council may be a maximum of twice the funding from user partners. Both cash contributions and the user partners’ work effort (in-kind contributions) can be included.
- The Project Owner and other research organisations should also contribute funding to highlight their engagement and strategic foundation.
- The user partners must have the majority on the board of directors and the chair of the board should be a representative of one of the user partners.
- The centre may have foreign partners. It must be documented how these will contribute to reaching the centre’s goals.
What can you seek funding for?
Scope of funding
- You can apply for a maximum of NOK 240 million over an eight-year period, divided between NOK 150 million the first five years and maximum NOK 90 million the last three years. The funding for the last three years will be decided on the basis of the outcome of a mid-term evaluation of the centre.
- In addition to funding from user partners, the host institution and other research organisations’ funding contribution should be such that the Research Council’s overall contribution does not exceed around half of the centre’s budget.
- Funding from the Research Council may not exceed twice the amount of funding from user partners.
- You can apply for funding to cover the actual costs necessary to carry out the project. Read more about what to enter in the project budget here.
- Stays abroad for doctoral and postdoctoral fellows must be covered within the framework of the project. FMEs will not be covered by the Research Council’s call for funding for Research Stays Abroad for Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellows. The same applies to support for research stays for guest researchers in Norway.
Conditions for funding
- The Research Council will not award funding that constitutes state aid under this application type. The project is to be implemented by means of effective collaboration, as defined in the state aid rules:
‘Collaboration between at least two independent parties to exchange knowledge or technology, or to achieve a common objective based on the division of labour where the parties jointly define the scope of the collaborative project, contribute to its implementation and share its risks, as well as its results. One or several parties may bear the full costs of the project and thus relieve other parties of its financial risks. Contract research and provision of research services are not considered forms of collaboration.’
- Funding awarded to a research organisation is only to go to the organisation’s non-economic activity. It does not therefore constitute state aid. The Research Council requires a clear separation of accounts for the organisation’s economic and non-economic activities.
- Enterprises may not receive funding to cover project costs.
- Ownership of project results must be regulated to ensure that enterprises participating in the centre do not receive indirect funding from participating research partners. The regulation of ownership must therefore be in accordance with the EFTA Surveillance Authority’s guidelines on state aid for research, development and innovation, Section 28. This means that ownership of IPR from the project must be allocated to the different project partners in a way that satisfactorily reflects their work packages, contributions and respective interests.
Scientific articles and research data
The Research Council requires full and immediate open access to scientific publications; see Plan S – open access to publications.
Research data must be made available in accordance with the FAIR principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable). The Project Owner organisation of projects that process data must prepare a data management plan in connection with the revised application.
The Project Owner organisation is responsible for selecting which archiving solution(s) to use for storing research data generated during the project. This must be specified in the data management plan for the project.
Relevant thematic areas for this call
Energy, transport and low emissions
Hydrogen as an energy carrier has a significant potential to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Hydrogen must be produced with zero or very low emissions in order to be a realistic alternative, and it must be readily available, competitive and safe. The Norwegian Government’s hydrogen strategy steps up ambitions for hydrogen efforts towards 2050.
- The centre must be organised in a way that facilitates the possibility of co-determination by the various environments and that stimulates interdisciplinarity and constructive interaction between the environments.
- The centre must ensure close cooperation between the industry and research groups.
- The centre must help to enhance cooperation with other funding agencies and schemes (Enova, Innovation Norway, the Norwegian Catapult Programme etc.).
- International cooperation in the area of hydrogen/hydrogen-based energy carriers is important and on the rise. The centre must ensure that all research partners can participate in international collaborations. The centre must be prepared to take on certain tasks for the Research Council related to international R&D collaboration, within its budgetary framework.
- There will be a growing need for expertise in the area of hydrogen going forward. An important part of the centre’s responsibility is the education of doctoral and postdoctoral research fellows and to contribute to research-based education at master’s degree level within the centre’s thematic area.
- It is important that the centre has some flexibility in its budget so that funding can be re-allocated when necessary and to have some funds available when needed. Up to 10 per cent of the Research Council’s allocation should therefore be unappropriated from the fourth year onwards.
The Research Council’s hydrogen initiative defines the thematic framework for the call. You can read more about it here (in Norwegian only): Forskningsrådets hydrogensatsing 2021 (forskningsradet.no).
We will prioritise applications that:
- identify areas of crucial importance to achieving the roadmap’s ambitions, with particular emphasis on the 2030 and 2050 goals, and that direct research efforts towards these goals;
- take a whole-system approach to all aspects: technology, economy, society, safety and the environment, and that highlight the importance of the centre’s research for future use of hydrogen as an energy carrier and as an input factor in industrial processes;
- demonstrate how the centre’s research activity will help to increase the impact and reduce the costs in important parts of the value chain;
- concentrate research efforts on areas in which Norway has an advantage and where there is a potential for value creation in Norway and for export. Areas that stand out are:
- research related to cost-effective and safe production, transport and storage of clean hydrogen and hydrogen-based energy carriers;
- research related to using clean hydrogen and hydrogen-based energy carriers in the maritime sector;
- research related to using clean hydrogen and hydrogen-based energy carriers in industrial processes.
The application must describe the centre’s contribution to achieving the goals of the FME scheme. It must also describe the centre's contribution to achieving the following impacts:
- cost reductions in key parts of the value chain;
- improved energy efficiency in key parts of the value chain;
- contribution to the UN SDGs, particularly relating to climate and environmental impact;
- economic potential for Norwegian trade and industry.
The application must describe how the centre will follow up the research results to generate innovation and value creation in industry.
Applicants must describe in a separate mandatory attachment how the centre will complement and collaborate with other existing FMEs and centres specialising in hydrogen, primarily MoZEES and NCCS, as well as SFI iCSI, Petrosenter LowEmission and other potential projects. You must also describe how you think hydrogen research as a whole should be safeguarded when the most important centres in operation are concluded.
The attachment must also state how the centre will ensure good cooperation with other large-scale R&D projects, projects funded by the Research Council and other funding agencies, and EU projects. Where relevant, the centre’s work should build on earlier and ongoing projects.
Relevant plans (in Norwegian only)
Other relevant calls with the same topic
Requirements for this application type
Applications must be created and submitted via My RCN Web. You may revise and resubmit your grant application form multiple times up to the application submission deadline. We recommend that you submit your application as soon as you have filled in the grant application form and included all mandatory attachments. After the deadline, it is the most recently submitted version of the grant application that will be processed.
- The application and all attachments must be submitted in English.
- All mandatory attachments must be included.
- All attachments must be uploaded in PDF format.
- Requirements relating to the Project Owner (research organisation) must be satisfied.
- Requirements relating to the partners must be satisfied.
- A maximum of 10 CVs can be attached.
- A project description of up to 20 pages in length. The project description must use the designated template which is available for download at the end of the call.
- CV of the project manager (centre director) of maximum four pages using the designated template found at the end of the call.
- CVs (maximum four pages) for key project participants/work package leaders using the designated template found at the end of the call:
- Researchers submitting a CV must use the template ‘CV-mal for forskere/CV Template Researchers’.
- Persons submitting a CV who do not work at a research organisation can use the ‘CV Template’.
- Letters of intent from the Project Owner and all registered partners (maximum three pages in English). The letters must include the following:
- The partner must confirm their intention to participate actively as a partner in the centre and describe how this will be done in practice.
- The partner must give reasons for their interest in participating in the centre. How will the centre’s activities benefit the partner and create opportunities that would not otherwise arise without the centre?
- What potential for innovation and sustainable value creation does the partner envisage from the centre’s expected results, and how can the research results be applied?
- The partner must summarise their contribution to the centre in the form of knowledge, expertise and, if relevant, funding, facilities and own efforts during the centre's lifetime.
- The partner must describe their own long-term R&D plans and how this reflects the centre’s strategic plans (strategic foundation).
- The letter of intent from the Project Owner must also contain a confirmation from the management of the Project Owner’s organisation stating that it will accept the obligations that follow from a contract with the Research Council. The letter must also describe what part the centre will play in the Project Owner’s scientific strategy.
- Attachment (maximum three pages in English) describing delimitations and cooperation with other R&D projects and centres working in hydrogen and hydrogen-based energy carriers (see the section Delimitation).
Applications that do not meet the requirements listed above will be rejected.
- Proposals for up to five referees who are considered qualified to assess the application
We will not assess documents and websites linked to in the application, or other attachments than those specified above. There is no technical validation of the content of the attachments you upload, so please make sure that you upload the correct file for the selected type of attachment.
The Research Council uses the three main criteria Excellence, Impact and Implementation. We will also assess the applications’ relevance in relation to the requirements and guidelines set out in the call for proposals. This also includes the centre’s national contribution and profile, the basis for the Project Owner’s scientific strategies and how the centre builds on or complements other established centres and initiatives.
Grant applications will be assessed on the basis of the following criteria:
• Assess scientific creativity and originality.
• The extent to which hypotheses and research questions are innovative and courageous.
• The extent to which the centre has the potential to generate new knowledge that advances the research front, including significant development/renewal of theories, methods, experiments or empirical knowledge.
The quality of the centre's R&D activities
• Assess the quality of research questions, hypotheses and project objectives, and the extent to which they are clearly described.
• The extent to which the theoretical approach, research design and choice of methods are credible and appropriate, and interdisciplinary perspectives are sufficiently considered.
• The extent to which research conducted at the centre takes sufficient consideration of social responsibility, ethical issues and gender dimensions.
• The extent to which the centre satisfactorily addresses users/stakeholders’ knowledge.
• The extent to which the centre’s planned results can contribute to addressing important scientific challenges, both now and going forward.
• The extent to which the centre’s planned results can address important challenges in the sector(s), both now and going forward.
• The extent to which competence building and the centre's planned results will form the basis for value creation in the Norwegian business and/or public sector.
• The extent to which the centre describes impacts that constitute added value from organising a major research initiative as a research centre.
• The extent to which the centre’s planned results are relevant to the UN Sustainable Development Goals or have the potential to address other important societal challenges, both now and going forward.
• The extent to which the potential impacts are clearly formulated and credible.
Communication and utilisation
• Assess the quality and scope of communication and involvement activities targeting relevant stakeholders/users.
• The extent to which partners are involved in the work of utilising the centre's results.
• The extent to which the project manager (centre director) has relevant expertise and experience and is qualified to lead an initiative of this scale.
• The extent to which the project participants complement one another, and the project group has the necessary expertise to effectively implement the centre initiative.
The quality of the centre’s organisation and management
• The extent to which the centre will be efficiently organised, including whether the resources allocated to the different work packages are sufficient and in accordance with the centre’s objectives and deliveries.
• The extent to which the centre's tasks are distributed in a way that ensures all project participants have a clear role and sufficient resources to fulfil that role.
• The extent to which the management and governance of the centre are expediently organised, including risk and innovation management.
• The extent to which the partners contribute to the management and implementation of the centre.
The quality and extent of international cooperation
• The extent to which the scope and quality of international collaborative activities are in keeping with the centre's objectives.
Gender balance in the centre’s project group
• If the gender balance in the centre's management team (centre manager and research managers) is poor, the extent to which the centre have an expedient plan in place to support the development of researcher talents of the under-represented gender to qualify for senior-level positions?
Where applicants are otherwise equally qualified, the Research Council will prioritise applications with female centre directors and centres with good female representation in leading positions.
Once the applications have been received, we will conduct a preliminary administrative review to ensure that they satisfy all the stipulated formal requirements. Applications that do not meet the formal requirements will be rejected.
Approved applications will be assessed by referee panels comprising impartial scientific experts in the relevant thematic areas and by experts well acquainted with the market aspects of hydrogen and hydrogen-based energy carriers. For each individual application, the Research Council will check that all referees on the panel are impartial and have sufficient expertise to assess the research topic in question. Assessments can also be obtained from external referees in order to assist the panel in reaching a consensus-based assessment. The referee panel will assess the criteria Excellence, Impact and Implementation. An overall mark is awarded for each of these criteria.
After the panel has completed its assessment, the Research Council will conduct an assessment of the relevance criterion.
The overall mark awarded to the application is based on the relevance criterion and the panel’s assessment. The overall mark is calculated on the basis of the average of the four criteria without weighting.
The portfolio board for energy, transport and low emissions will make the final decision on allocation.
Before signing the contract, we will in cooperation with the Project Owner ensure that the project meets the overall framework of the call as regards the composition of partners, resource allocation, plans etc.
See also: Processing applications.
We expect to publish which applications have been awarded funding on 1 March 2022. For updated dates and a list of the applications granted funding, see application results here.
Messages at time of print 2 October 2023, 16:13 CEST