Horizon Europe (2021 - 2027)

Positive Clean Energy Districts

Last update: 1 day ago Last update: 02 Feb, 2023


Location: EU 27 EU 27
Contracting Authority Type: Development Institution
Status: Awarded
Budget: EUR 40,000,000
Award ceiling: N/A
Award floor: N/A
Sector: Energy, Urban Development, Information & Communication Technology
Eligible applicants: Unrestricted / Unspecified
Eligible nationalities: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, A ... See more Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, American Samoa, Angola, Anguilla, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Austria, Azerbaijan, Azores, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bermuda, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Caribbean Netherlands, Cayman Islands, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Dem. Rep. Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Commonwealth of, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Eswatini (Swaziland), Ethiopia, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Fiji, Finland, France, French Polynesia, French Southern Territory, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Greenland, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Caledonia, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, North Macedonia, Norway, Pakistan, Palau, Palestine / West Bank & Gaza, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Pitcairn, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Saint Helena, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Spain, Sri Lanka, St. Pierre and Miquelon, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Turks and Caicos, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam, Wallis and Futuna, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Date posted: 19 Jan, 2022

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Call Updates

May 2, 2022 12:00:14 PM

The call HORIZON-MISS-2021-CIT-02 closed on 26/04/2022.

37 proposals were submitted, with the following breakdown per topic:

  • HORIZON-MISS-2021-CIT-02-04 (IA): 6 proposals

Positive Clean Energy Districts


Programme: Horizon Europe Framework Programme (HORIZON)
Call: Research and Innovation actions to support the implementation of the Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities Mission (HORIZON-MISS-2021-CIT-02)
Type of action: HORIZON-IA HORIZON Innovation Actions
Type of MGA: HORIZON Action Grant Budget-Based [HORIZON-AG]
Deadline model: single-stage
Opening date: 11 January 2022
Deadline date: 26 April 2022 17:00:00 Brussels time

Topic description

Projects are expected to contribute to all the following outcomes:

  • Contribute to the objectives of the Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities Mission by accelerating the transition towards climate neutrality in cities;
  • Large-scale demonstration and implementation of Positive Clean Energy Districts[1] to prove their feasibility and cost-effectiveness in a real world environment, i.e. they will be fully integrated in the city context at all levels;
  • Projects will be at district (project defined[2]) scale and will have long-term strategies that address the (at times conflicting) needs and requirements of inhabitants, energy, mobility (both passenger mobility and freight transport), ICT and environment at district scale [3] in order to make cities more liveable, healthier, resource efficient and climate-neutral. Projects will include different social and economic areas at the district level;
  • Collaborative structures that bring together all important actors needed to realize Positive Clean Energy Districts, i.e. cities/metropolitan areas, industry/SMEs, property developers/financial actors, R&I organisations, energy service providers, citizens associations, energy agencies, etc. They will closely collaborate among each other and with the Horizon 2020 Smart Cities and Communities Lighthouse projects cluster, the supporting SCALE service contract and the Smart Cities Marketplace;
  • Widening and consolidating the Positive Clean Energy cluster of practitioners and strengthened links with financial actors enabling the mid-term Europe-wide uptake of tested solutions for Positive Clean Energy Districts;
  • Paradigm shift from demonstration project to mainstreamed long-term city transformation;
  • Evidence of decreased investment risk for - and acceleration of - the rollout of Positive Clean Energy Districts;
  • Well-proven and documented packaged solutions that lower the entry barrier, create trust and shape the market, ultimately leading to further large-scale investment;
  • City alliances that include also small and very small cities as well as cities in less developed and peripheral regions - to enhance opportunities for accessing knowledge, technology and funding, and in turn provide a factual contribution toward meeting the climate targets.

The topic addresses the objectives of the Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities Mission, hereafter referred to as the Cities Mission, to (1) support, promote and showcase 100 climate-neutral and smart European cities by 2030 and (2) make these cities act into experimentation and innovation hubs to put all European cities in a position to become climate-neutral by 2050. The topic will thus contribute to the twin green and digital transitions promoted by the European Green Deal and will lead by example on how to speed up the necessary transformation towards urban climate neutrality, including in a human-centred way.

Cities are natural testbeds for innovative integrated solutions and for showcasing the different possibilities for achieving climate neutrality and zero pollution objectives. Early mover cities towards climate neutrality and zero pollution by 2030 will pave the way for all cities to follow by 2050. They should therefore lead the way towards an overarching strategy aiming at climate neutrality for cities.

The concept of Lighthouse and Fellow cities[4] pioneered under Horizon 2020 yielded good results and a similar project structure is encouraged[5].

Since Positive Clean Energy Districts are a crucial element of the climate-neutral cities of the future, the concept of scale and of representativeness of the various socio-economic contexts/groups of citizens are of highest importance for effective and impactful urban transformation, taking into account cross-sectoral impacts, interdependencies and co-benefits. The expertise acquired at district scale - by facilitating and analysing the intricate interactions between all involved layers and actors - is essential for subsequent scale-up to city scale. This is again paramount if we want to meet the 2050 climate and zero pollution goals where cities play a pivotal role. The scope of the projects will therefore be to:

  • Test large-scale Positive Clean Energy Districts under real life conditions and analyse: 
    • The main aspects of successful conception and roll-out of Positive Energy Districts;
    • Combinations of demand measures (e.g. energy efficiency, demand response and user behaviour) and supply measures (e.g. onsite RES and storage, including from EVs, building/district management) at district scale to identify the best cost-effective mix;
    • Synergies between the built environment, energy communities, active and e-mobility (e.g. integration of smart and/or bidirectional EV charging), smart grids (e.g. heating/cooling, electricity) and energy storage. Inclusion of resource efficient smart water and waste management is also an asset;
    • Key elements of replicability for scaling up Positive Clean Energy Districts (in the same city/region and also beyond), for example the use of open standards and technical specifications and open source tools is encouraged.
  • Demonstrate different combinations of technologies to achieve Positive Clean Energy Districts and analyse the most cost-efficient combinations.
  • Develop business models and governance structures that are best suited for Positive Clean Energy Districts (e.g. studying the most effective incentive schemes for behavioural change, development and integration of sustainable energy communities).
  • Test and adapt different management systems/platforms and citizen interaction and related co-creation and communication strategies that facilitate the implementation of Positive Clean Energy Districts.
  • Optimise on-site energy storage systems (e.g. thermal, electrical) linked with local non-combustion RES production (including excess energy from local/ regional industry), use of low carbon materials, and e-mobility (both passenger mobility and freight transport).
  • Integrate low to zero pollution heating and cooling systems (e.g. solar thermal district heating plants) making best use of local assets.
  • Test Positive Clean Energy District grid solutions, demand response and other smart energy management strategies that help to optimise the larger energy system. To address the cybersecurity aspect, the task will be implemented in close collaboration with the projects funded under the Horizon Europe topic C5-D3-ESGS-06-2021 addressing the reliability and resilience of the grid.
  • Establish a project structure that actively involves the local city administrations and mayors of other cities in co-creation, inter-city peer review process and formal collaborations based on officially adopted shared principles.
  • Involve owners/inhabitants but also financial actors as consortium partners already in the development phase, with the perspective to scale up from project to real city transformation.
  • Apart from implementing their own innovative approaches, projects are strongly encouraged to build and capitalise on the wealth of proven solutions of Horizon 2020 Smart Cities and Communities Lighthouse Projects cluster [6] and advancing the chosen solutions towards the necessary mainstreaming on the mid/long term.

Projects are also expected to collaborate with and contribute to the specific objectives of the SET Plan action 3.2 - Smart cities and communities - focusing on positive-energy blocks and districts (PED).

Proposals are expected to demonstrate very good knowledge of the European Smart Cities and Communities ecosystem and to pay specific attention to synergies with relevant policies such as the Renovation Wave and with other relevant initiatives such as the European Partnership on Driving Urban Transition for a sustainable future (DUT)[7], the European Partnership for People-centric Sustainable Built Environment (Built4People)[7], the Covenant of Mayors, the Smart Cities Market Place[9], Living-in.EU, Clean Energy Transition (LIFE), EIT InnoEnergy, the upcoming European Urban Initiative of Cohesion policy, the Urban Agenda for the EU, as well as relevant projects such as the Lighthouse projects of the New European Bauhaus initiative and relevant smart specialisation partnerships.

The projects funded under this topic must establish a collaboration agreement, to identify clear links among themselves and ensure complementarity, coordination and exchange on relevant linked activities. The selected projects should also foresee active collaboration with relevant and related projects funded under this call in order to address synergies and complementarities between the projects of the Cities Mission portfolio. In particular collaboration with the Mission Platform (HORIZON-MISS-2021-CIT-02-03) is essential and projects should ensure that appropriate provisions for activities and resources aimed at enforcing this collaboration are included in the workplan. Detailed description of the specific activities and common actions that will be undertaken is not required at proposal stage and can be further defined at a second stage during the lifetime of the projects. The collaboration with the Mission Platform should be formalised through a Memorandum of Understanding to be concluded as soon as possible after the projects starting date.

To facilitate replication and reuse of the solutions developed as part of these actions, use of open source software, open standards and technical specifications[10], re-use of building blocks and interoperability solutions[11], and sharing of data through EU data spaces are encouraged where appropriate.

To facilitate replication, upscaling and up-taking of the generated outcomes and to foster capacity building/upskilling of public authorities, local actors and communities, the projects should engage in ambitious outreach, communication, dissemination and training activities in coordination and complementarity with the Mission Platform.

Cross-cutting Priorities:

Artificial Intelligence
Digital Agenda

[1]Refer to definition of Positive Energy Districts as elaborated under SET Plan IWP 3.2: https://jpi-urbaneurope.eu/ped/

[2]Based on existing city-wide diagnosis and strategies, to enhance coherence and alignment with the city' urban transformation long-term vision of, as well as acceptance among citizens.

[3]In this context, a ‘district’ is a designated administrative unit within a city that is managed by a local government.

[4]Indicatively 2 (leading) Lighthouse cities and 2-5 fellow cities. However, if deemed more appropriate also other constellations are admissible)

[5]Horizon 2020: LC-SC3-SCC-1-2018-2019-2020: Smart Cities and Communities - https://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/data/ref/h2020/wp/2018-2020/main/h2020-wp1820-energy_en.pdf.





[10]For example, the Minimal Interoperability Mechanisms (MIMs Plus) developed by Living-in.eu (https://living-in.eu/groups/commitments/technical) and the European Interoperability Framework

[11]These include the assets and solutions available through CEF Digital Building Blocks and ISA2 and which will be made available on Joinup under the DIGITAL Europe Programme Work Programme 2021-2022

Call Updates

May 2, 2022 12:00:14 PM

The call HORIZON-MISS-2021-CIT-02 closed on 26/04/2022.

37 proposals were submitted, with the following breakdown per topic:

  • HORIZON-MISS-2021-CIT-02-04 (IA): 6 proposals

Positive Clean Energy Districts


Programme: Horizon Euro...

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