The ERA-NET project is part of the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme (EU FP7) that aims to improve cooperation and coordination of national research activities and thus strengthen the European Research Area (ERA) with other regions of the world. Therefore, ERANETMED is an EU FP7 initiative dealing with the Mediterranean region.
-Renewable energies and energy efficiency
The main aim of the ERANETMED project is to enhance cooperation and coordination, and co-ownership of research among member countries and their Mediterranean neighbours in competitive research in areas that constitute societal challenges for the region as a whole. Following the Barcelona Conference in 2012, the ERANETMED began to focus attention on developing new modalities for “sustainable” cooperation, in which both European and Mediterranean partners may participate and benefit from the output and the opportunities created by implemented projects.
The ERANETMED project functions through joint calls for proposals, where researchers from partner countries of the ERANERMED cooperate to submit joint research proposals. Submitted proposals are subject to an external evaluation and final selection is undertaken by ERANETMED funding parties who convene to confirm selected projects based on evaluation results & funding availability.
The CNRS-L coordinates the ERANETMED joint calls for Lebanon, performing the dual role of project partner and a funding agency. In Lebanon, the call is open to all research institutions with the requirement that Lebanese Institutions co-fund any selected project (50%-50% between the CNRS-L and the participating Lebanese institution).
The first Joint Call for Proposals was launched in 2014 for funding EU-MED Research Proposals within the overarching themes of Energy, Water and their Nexus. These themes were identified as a major challenge for the area and as the pillars of scientific research and innovation through out the Mediterranean basin.
: This theme had the overarching objective of capitalizing on local large availability of renewable sources of energy, by developing adapted packages of solutions for the sustainability of vulnerable communities, including: Hybrid renewable energy system integration, Smart Micro-grids, Renewable energy and energy efficiency for smart and rural communities.
Renewable energies and energy efficiency:
This theme had the overarching objective of capitalizing on local large availability of renewable sources of energy, by developing adapted packages of solutions for the sustainability of vulnerable communities, including: Hybrid renewable energy system integration, Smart Micro-grids, Renewable energy and energy efficiency for smart and rural communities.
-Water Resources Management: This theme had to be addressed in the context of global change, particularly demographic, climate, new trends of water yields and availability. It included: integrated water management from the catchment to coastal zone, integrated water use efficiency, water reuse in agriculture, water desalination.
-ENERGY-WATER nexus: Applicant could also decide to address energy and water issues in the same project.
The call focused on enhancing collaborative research, innovation, capacity building, and mobility within the Euro-Mediterranean region.
Out of a total of 190 proposals submitted for approval, 2l eligible proposals were submitted by Lebanese Researchers with the administrative and financial commitment of their respective institutions. The proposals were submitted by several Lebanese institutions, namely AUB (6 proposals), CNRS-L Research Centers (8 proposals), USJ (2 proposals), University of Balamand (1 proposal), BAU (2 proposals), NDU (2 proposals), USEK (2 proposals), LU (2 proposals), and LAU (1 proposal).
Following the evaluation process of the first call, three proposals submitted by Lebanese researchers were selected:
-Solar Assisted Catalytic Reforming: a Hybrid Process to Transform Municipal Waste into Energy (SOL-CARE)
Participating Lebanese Researchers: Dr. Nisrine El Hassan (University of Balamand), and Dr. Maya Boutros (Lebanese University)
-Sustainable Air Conditioning Using Desiccant Membrane System (SOLCOOLDRY). Lead Lebanese Researcher: Dr. Nesreen Ghaddar (American University of Beirut)
-Communication Systems with Renewable Energy Micro-Grid (COM-MED). Participating Lebanese Researcher: Dr. Ghassan Kraidy (Notre Dame University)
The second Joint call for Proposals was launched in 2016, with the aim of proposing sustainable solutions for the environmental challenges facing the Mediterranean community. The funding parties agreed to tackle a broader, more holistic, multi-disciplinary and comprehensive approach for this second call, identifying four over-arching research questions as a guiding framework, covering:
-Land and Soil Management: including climate and drought, erosion and desertification, with a focus on socio-economic and governance aspects as well as human induced hazard and risk, and their impact on water and food resources availability,
-Renewable and Sustainable Energy: Environmentally sound systems and production at community level with a view to support sustainable use of water resources, food production and ecosystems protection,
-Climate and Demographic Change: Reducing pressure on the Environment and ecosystems through the efficient use of resources,
-Societal Dynamics and Ecosystem Variables: Relationships and complex interactions among and the transformations of resources (water, energy, food) and related supply systems.
Applicants were required to submit proposals that would have direct and tangible impact on:
-Sustainability and quality of life of targeted communities.
-Communities’ awareness and capacity to protect own local resources, environment and ecosystems.
-Improving methods, innovative approaches and governance for the mitigation of impacts on local resources and ecosystems due to natural and non-natural hazards.
Projects had to include collaborative research. Other actions related to innovation and mobility were also strongly encouraged; as were cross-cutting issues, particularly: socio-economic, governance, ICT and gender.
26 eligible proposals were submitted by Lebanese Institutions, with several proposals that included more than one Lebanese institution. The eligible proposals submitted demonstrated a high participation from Lebanese research institutions and universities, namely AUB (7 proposals), Lebanese University (1 proposal), USJ (2 proposals), NDU (1 proposal), USEK (3 proposals), LARI (3 proposals), CNRS Research Centers (10 proposals), and Manar University of Tripoli (1 proposal). The evaluation process for this call is still ongoing.