Inaugural MI Ministerial meeting in San Francisco, US on, June 2, 2016 –ministers from all Mission Innovation partners released their respective governments’ plans to double clean energy research and development funding over five years. (Know more) It was also agreed that to begin with seven innovation challenges can be taken up . The Innovation Challenges were developed through a collaborative process between MI members. Engagement in an Innovation Challenge is entirely voluntary and is built around a coalition of interested MI members. With sufficient interest from MI members, new Innovation Challenges could be launched in the future.

The identified MI challenges are:

Smart Grids Innovation Challenge IC#1

To enable future grids that are powered by affordable, reliable, decentralised renewable electricity systems. Interest areas identified are:

  • Regional grid innovation
  • Distribution grid innovation
  • Micro grid innovation & cross innovation
  • Efficient appliances design
  • Innovation on technologies includes renewable sources integration, storage and smart mini-grids management technologies (systems safety, reliability, interoperability and scalability, etc.)
  • Skilled labour and infrastructure financing
  • Local implementation conditions

Off-Grid Access to Electricity Innovation Challenge IC#2

To develop systems that enable off-grid households and communities to access affordable and reliable renewable electricity. Ares of interest include:

  • Off grid electricity systems utilising polygeneration and also solar, wind, micro-hydel, biogas, and various other forms individually or hybridised for heating/cooling/thermal applications.
  • Augment the existing fossil with renewable sources including roof top solar as an off grid solution.
  • Frequency and voltage stability of off grid system and developing robust control algorithm.
  • Village Distributed Energy resource (DER) Grid.
  • Hybrid distribution system (AC and DC grid).
  • Development of efficient DC appliances and smart centralized distribution control to ensure disciplined and efficient end use of energy.

Carbon Capture Innovation Challenge IC#3

To enable near-zero CO2 emissions from power plants and carbon intensive industries. Interest areas identified are:

  • Advances in gas separation of CO2 concentration
  • Geologic storage of CO2.
  • Utilization CO2 for value added chemicals
  • Use of captured CO2 to create plastics
  • Algal biofuels
  • Carbonate materials
  • or other uses under discovery phase
  • All R&D in CO2 utilisation that could result in revolutionary & is not just incremental

Sustainable Biofuels Innovation Challenge IC#4

To develop ways to produce, at scale, widely affordable, advanced biofuels for transportation and industrial applications. Identified interest areas include:

  • Advanced, or second generation, biofuels which can be produced from non-food biological materials (biomass) such as forest and farming residues and other waste materials, Specially grown high yield plants or algae to biofuels/ bioproducts, and refined into fuels for use in transportation or industry.
  • Use of MSW for biogas/biofuels
  • LCA for production of biofues in agriculture, forestry, and land management; take advantage of mitigation and adaptation practices that are synergistic
  • Economic development by growing the market share of advanced biofuels coupled with high value products
  • Microbial fermentation of industrial waste gases for Biofuel
  • Production of low cost high performance Enzymes and yeasts for Biofuel/bioproducts
  • Biogas production from low cost materials
  • Improve the large-scale production and supply of biological feedstocks including , harvesting, collection, handling, transport and pre-treatment practices
  • Research and improve upon new technologies for the high efficiency utilization of biofuels in transport and industry, including biogas applications
  • High-efficiency combustion engine applications, and applications combining electric, fuel cell and biofuels

Converting Sunlight Innovation Challenge IC#5

To discover affordable ways to convert sunlight into storable solar fuels. Some of the identified interest areas include:

  • Producing carbon-neutral clean fuels (such as hydrogen)
  • Developing breakthrough energy storage chemicals
  • Catalysts for water splitting and CO2 reduction,
  • Light harvesting through micro-algae,
  • Photo-electrochemical cells,
  • Concentrated solar light to energy rich chemicals and engineering of production devices.

Clean Energy Materials Innovation Challenge IC#6

To accelerate the exploration, discovery, and use of new high-performance, low-cost clean energy materials. Specific application areas for new materials include, for example

  • Advanced batteries and solar cells,
  • Low energy semiconductors,
  • Thermal storage
  • Coatings for various applications,
  • Structural materials with better properties,
  • Catalysts for the conversion and capture of CO2.
  • End-to-end materials innovation platform
  • R&D in chain of new materials, such as the discovery, synthesis, data and performance assessment, and process design and scale-up
  • Materials innovation process (model, simulate, predict, synthesize, characterize, and test the properties and performance) of new clean energy materials

Affordable Heating and Cooling of Buildings Innovation Challenge IC#7

To make low-carbon heating and cooling affordable for everyone. Identified interest areas include:

  • Thermal energy storage
  • Heat pumps;
  • Non-atmospheric heat sinks and sources;
  • Predictive maintenance and optimization;
  • Building-level integration; and
  • Equipment development for heating and cooling

Clean Hydrogen Innovation Challenge (IC8)

To accelerate the development of a global hydrogen market by identifying and overcoming key technology barriers to the production, distribution, storage, and use of hydrogen at commercial scale.

Hydrogen is a promising energy-dense (mass density) energy carrier with multiple uses and the potential to play an essential part in achieving deep cuts in emissions and improved security and resilience of the global energy system at scale.

To date the approach to hydrogen production has centred on fossil fuels, such as natural gas or coal. In the future, producing hydrogen from renewable energy and water has potential to deliver large volumes of hydrogen for multiple uses at low cost. Creating the supply chain for hydrogen will be equally importance.

Hydrogen has the potential for achieving reduction in emissions and improved security and resilience of the global energy system at a scale. Pure Hydrogen is made from splitting hydrogen-rich substances and is a promising energy carrier with multiple uses.

Innovation Challenge 8 on Hydrogen will explore opportunities to collaborate with Innovation Challenges 3, 4 and 5, where collaboration can add value. Additionally, IC-8 will collaborate with existing international co-operation forums including: the International Partnership for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells in the Economy (IPHE), the IEA Technology Collaboration Programmes (IEA TCPs) and the Hydrogen Council, The potential of producing Hydrogen from renewable energy and water in a cost effective manner shall help solve energy problems in the near future. The key areas of Interests include:

  • Producing hydrogen at scales
  • Using hydrogen and cross-cutting issues
  • Mature end-use applications like automotive fuel cells
  • Make hydrogen cost-competitive in the broader energy system
  • Fuel Cells: Increase Efficiency , robustness and to reduce cost

Hydrogen can play multiple roles in energy transitions. Hydrogen provides a means of long-term energy storage, and assists with large-scale integration of renewable electricity into the energy system. It allows for the distribution of energy across regions and seasons and can serve as a buffer to increase energy-system resilience. Hydrogen can be produced and stored at times of low demand (curtailed renewable energy) then utilized (e.g. via re-conversion into electricity) when needed, thereby enhancing the energy productivity of renewable sources

MI countries will collaborate to identify and accelerate key breakthroughs needed to achieve a cost-competitive hydrogen value chain. Innovation Challenge 8 will provide a platform to understand and progress selected issues around how a global hydrogen market would function as a system; particularly where these issues are not being actively contemplated in other IC challenges.

India is member of all the seven challenges and is co-lead in Smart Grid Innovation challenge, Off grid innovation challenge and in Sustainable Biofuel innovation challenge.