Boost Europe's green future using space

Funding available for ideas to boost Europe's green future using space

Space could be crucial in our transition towards a sustainable future. But how? We can help you turn your novel ideas into concrete action.

Following decisions made at the COP26 climate talks and ESA's Intermediate Ministerial Meeting, we have decided to extend the deadline for the Open Space Innovation Platform (OSIP) call for 'New ideas for how space can boost Europe's green future' to 14 December. Anybody interested in submitting an idea is invited to ask questions during a public webinar on 29 November.

For more information about this OSIP call, please see our article announcing its launch.

From ideas to action

Perhaps you work in energy, construction, or another sector closely linked to the environment. Or maybe you are a space company with an idea for applying your latest technology. Whoever you are, we invite you to tell us how space could contribute to making Europe carbon neutral.

Successful ideas will be implemented either under the Discovery programme of ESA’s Basic Activities, or under ESA’s GSTP, InCubed, ARTES or NAVISP programmes – we will support you to find the right implementation path. With our support, you could explore options for commercially viable solutions using space to slow down climate change and help make Europe climate neutral.

Space for a green future

The climate crisis is the most urgent challenge faced by humanity. In its 2021 'code red' report, the IPCC stated that humanity can no longer escape from anthropogenic climate change. Yet fast action could help us avoid the worst damage.

Space is uniquely positioned to make a difference in tackling the climate crisis; satellites watch over Earth continuously and the space sector has plenty of experience in developing technologies that are adapted to challenging environments – think highly insulating materials, non-carbon power systems and regenerative life support systems for astronauts, for example.

On 19 November, government ministers in charge of space activities in ESA's Member States met at an Intermediate Ministerial Meeting in Matosinhos, Portugal. The Co uncil of Ministers unanimously adopted a resolution to accelerate the use of space in Europe (the 'Matosinhos manifesto') to tackle the urgent and unprecedented societal, economic and security challenges faced by Europe and its citizens.

As a first priority, ESA will work towards enabling people to better understand the current state of the planet and to develop scenarios and solutions for sustainable life on Earth. One way to achieve this is through a digital twin of our planet – the 'Digital Twin Earth ' will be able to monitor the health of the planet, perform simulations of Earth's interconnected system with human behaviour, and help support European environmental policies.

"Space offers a vast untapped potential to ramp up the fight for a green future and tackle global climate change," says ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher. "It is now time to translate great ideas into concrete actions and leverage their economic potential."

This OSIP call for ideas aims to provide a significant contribution to ESA's plans for a greener Europe as well as to one of the five goals of ESA Agenda 2025 – boosting commercialisation in Europe's space sector for a green and digital Europe.

The call is open to anybody, but we are particularly looking to trigger the creativity of entrepreneurs and businesses.

How is ESA already contributing to a greener future?

There are myriad ways that space is already helping tackle climate change. For example, ESA's Space and Energy initiative aims to strengthen technological synergies with the terrestrial energy sector, recognising that the space sector has decades of experience in non-carbon power systems, energy storage and efficient thermal control. Furthermore, satellites can assist with the effective running of renewable energy infrastructure by monitoring wind and sunshine.

ESA's research into non-carbon energy supplies has also supported the construction sector. The need for eco-friendly housing solutions is growing, and homes could make use of solar cells and batteries developed for space. Strong-but-lightweight materials and high-end manufacturing techniques developed for space are already being used for terrestrial construction – one example is 3D printing using carbon fibre reinforced plastic.

In the transport sector, satellite-enabled smart traffic management solutions for planes, ships, lorries and cars will help to save energy and cut carbon emissions.

But we believe that there are many more unexplored ways that space technologies, applications and services could support a greener future. Your ideas could make a difference to our planet. 

Watch the video to discover more