Europe (and most of the individual countries) depends heavily on outside energy resources. These are dwindling and their supply can easily be jeopardized. Many dominating energy carriers are connected to environmental and social factors that clearly affect the quality of life. In particular this concerns fossil fuels with severe availability constraints, pollution problems and fast growing CO2 emissions. Many citizens worry about large, future nuclear-power programs. Therefore, a strong need is felt for heavy development of and investments in solar energy research. The term 'solar fuels' is becoming established since the beginning of the new Millennium. This introduction of the concept for solar fuels is spurred by worries for global warming and decreased availability of oil and gas. The promising perspective of solar fuels as important future energy carriers makes this a central theme that quickly moves up on the global research agenda. The EuroSolarFuels programme intends to accelerate the research on solar fuels on a pan-European scale.
Environmentally friendly fuel production is of strategic importance for both medium and long-term research. This is recognized worldwide and coincides with the goals of the research in this EuroSolarFuels programme. To succeed and to meet the scientific challenges, integration of science from many fields and a targeted multidisciplinary approach in chemistry, physics and biology are critical elements. The different scientific elements are described in scheme 1.