Home ITCAbout ITCScientific departmentsApplied Earth SciencesAES NewsLaunch of UT-led 2.7M project on critical resources and clean energy
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Launch of UT-led 2.7M project on critical resources and clean energy

It is predicted that to meet the demands from the energy transition and related green technologies, the current global supply of critical minerals will have to quadruple by 2040. Yet this simply cannot be achieved with current and projected new technologies in recycling. Novel and cost-effective solutions are required to accelerate and resource the energy transition. Launched this week, the EU-funded Doctoral Network, led by Assoc. Prof. Juan Carlos Afonso in the Department of Applied Earth Sciences, will support 10 research projects to develop a network for unveiling Earth's critical resources for clean energy and a sustainable future: EarthSafe

What is EarthSafe?

The EarthSafe Doctoral Network will develop new data-driven models to inform and enhance global exploration frameworks for deep geothermal resources and critical minerals to support the rapid transition to green energy and low-carbon economies in Europe and beyond. EarthSafe will also develop a new key aspect of exploration programs: their social dimension and benefits. 

EarthSafe will achieve this by harnessing:  

  • The complementary strengths and resolutions of multiple satellite and land-acquired geo-datasets,  
  • A novel combination of Artificial Intelligence, probabilistic inverse theory and state-of-the-art computational modelling, and  
  • A new social innovation component to support the creation and adoption of socially-responsible and sustainable practices. 

Assoc. Prof. Juan Carlos Afonso

EarthSafe’s transdisciplinary philosophy will break ground in the way we integrate knowledge from classic scientific disciplines (geoscience, mathematics, engineering, computer science, social science) and offer effective solutions for securing a sustainable and low- carbon energy future with minimum environmental footprint.

Assoc. Prof. Juan Carlos Afonso

EarthSafe will contribute to the main objectives of the European Green Deal, specifically ‘No net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050’ and ‘No person and no place left behind’. 

The project will also provide cost-efficient technologies that can be applied anywhere in the world to support the transition to cleaner energy and greener technologies. This will help to tackle inequality and energy poverty and support the United Nations Sustainable Developmental Goals. 

EarthSafe Kick-off Meeting 4-5 October 2023 at the University of Twente.

Partnering for sustainable development 

EarthSafe brings together two world-leading institutions/groups in computational engineering and applied mathematics (SISSA and LaCaN/UPC), two top institutions in Earth observation, geoscientific data analysis and modelling (University of Twente and Durham University). Along with the support and contribution from nine key associated partners from industry, academia, governmental and non-governmental organisations, covering different aspects of the deep geothermal and minerals sectors.

Main academic partners 

University of Twente, Mathematical and Computational Modelling (LaCaN) at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzat (SISSA), and Durham University 

Associated partners 

European Geothermal Energy Council, Geoscience Australia, Clean Air Task Force, the Resource Centre of Excellence at BHP, Project InnerSpace and Minerals Targeting International Pty Ltd. Institute for Applied Geophysics and Geothermal energy, RWTH Aachen University, Royal Scientific Society, Jordan  

World class training

EarthSafe will train a new generation of holistic and creative researchers, with a deep sense of social and environmental awareness, and with the right combination of technical and transversal skills to create innovative solutions and products for the benefit of society.  

To find out more about the 10 available PhD positions please click here

For any questions about the positions or the network please contact the EarthSafe Team at earthsafe-itc@utwente.nl 


EarthSafe is co-funded by Horizon Europe (HORIZON) through the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Training & Mobility Actions Doctoral Network and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to host 10 doctoral candidates across Europe. 

HORIZON MSCA-DN 101120556 

UKRI Grant Reference EP/Y030265/1 


 Article by: Assoc. Prof Heather Handley