Mitigating the Impacts of Climate Change: How EU HPC Centres of Excellence Are Meeting the Challenge

“The past seven years are on track to be the seven warmest on record,” according to the World Meteorological Organization. Furthermore, the earth is already experiencing the extreme weather consequences of a warmer planet in the forms of record snow in Madrid, record flooding in Germany and record wildfires in Greece in 2021 alone. Although EU HPC Centres of Excellence (CoEs) help to address current societal challenges like the Covid-19 pandemic, you might wonder, what can the EU HPC CoEs do about climate change? For some CoEs, the answer is fairly obvious. However just as with Covid-19, the contributions of other CoEs may surprise you!  

Given that rates of extreme weather events are already increasing, what can EU HPC CoEs do to help today? The Centre of Excellence in Simulation of Weather and Climate in Europe (ESiWACE) is optimizing weather and climate simulations for the latest HPC systems to be fast and accurate enough to predict specific extreme weather events. These increasingly detailed climate models have the capacity to help policy makers make more informed decisions by “forecasting” each decision’s simulated long-term consequences, ultimately saving lives. Beyond this software development, ESiWACE also supports the proliferation of these more powerful simulations through training events, large scale use case collaborations, and direct software support opportunities for related projects.

Even excepting extreme weather and long-term consequences, though, climate change has other negative impacts on daily life. For example the World Health Organization states that air pollution increases rates of “stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma.” The HPC and Big Data Technologies for Global Systems  Centre of Excellence (HiDALGO) exists to provide the computational and data analytic environment needed to tackle global problems on this scale. Their Urban Air Pollution Pilot, for example, has the capacity to forecast air pollution levels down to two meters based on traffic patterns and 3D geographical information about a city. Armed with this information and the ability to virtually test mitigations, policy makers are then empowered to make more informed and effective decisions, just as in the case of HiDALGO’s Covid-19 modelling.

What does MAterials design at the eXascale have to do with climate change? Among other things, MaX is dramatically speeding up the search for materials that make more efficient, safer, and smaller lithium ion batteries: a field of study that has had little success despite decades of searching. The otherwise human intensive process of finding new candidate materials moves exponentially faster when conducted computationally on HPC systems. Using HPC also ensures that the human researchers can focus their experiments on only the most promising material candidates.

Continuing with the theme of materials discovery, did you know that it is possible to “capture” CO2 from the atmosphere? We already have the technology to take this greenhouse gas out of our air and put it back into materials that keep it from further warming the planet. These materials could even be a new source of fuel almost like a man-made, renewable oil. The reason this isn’t yet part of the solution to climate change is that it is too slow. In answer, the Novel Materials Discovery Centre of Excellence (NoMaD CoE) is working on finding catalysts to speed up the process of carbon capture. Their recent success story about a publication in Nature discusses how they have used HPC and AI to identify the “genes” of materials that could make efficient carbon-capture catalysts. In our race against the limited amount of time we have to prevent the worst impacts of climate change, the kind of HPC facilitated efficiency boost experienced by MaX and NoMaD could be critical.

Once one considers the need of efficiency, it starts to become clear what the Centre of Excellence for engineering applications EXCELLERAT might be able to offer. Like all of the EU HPC CoEs, EXCELLERAT is working to prepare software to run on the next generation of supercomputers. This preparation is vital because the computers will use a mixture of processor types and be organized in a variety of architectures. Although this variety makes the machines themselves more flexible and powerful, it also demands increased flexibility from the software that runs on them. For example, the software will need the ability to dynamically change how work is distributed among processors depending on what kind and how many a specific supercomputer has. Without this ability, the software will run at the same speed no matter how big, fast, or powerful the computer is: as if it only knows how to work with a team of 5 despite having a team of 20. Hence, EXCELLERAT is preparing engineering simulation software to adapt to working efficiently on any given machine. This kind of simulation software is making it possible to more rapidly design new airplanes for characteristics like a shape that has less drag/better fuel efficiency, less sound pollution, and easier recycling of materials when the plane is too old to use.

Another CoE using HPC efficiency to make our world more sustainable is the Centre of Excellence for Combustion (CoEC). Focused exclusively on combustion simulation, they are working to discover new non-carbon or low-carbon fuels and more sustainable ways of burning them. Until now, the primary barrier to this kind of research has been the computing limitations of HPC systems, which could not support realistically detailed simulations. Only with the capacity of the latest and future machines will researchers finally be able to run simulations accurate enough for practical advances.

Outside of the pursuit for more sustainable combustion, the Energy Oriented Centre of Excellence (EoCoE) is boosting the efficiency of entirely different energy sources. In the realm of Wind for Energy, their simulations designed for the latest HPC systems have boosted the size of simulated wind farms from 5 to 40 square kilometres, which allows researchers and industry to far better understand the impact of land terrain and wind turbine placement. They are also working outside of established wind energy technology to help design an entirely new kind of wind turbine.

In work also related to solar energy, the EoCoE Materials for Energy group is finding new materials to improve the efficiency of solar cells as well as separately working on materials to harvest energy from the mixture of salt and fresh water in estuaries. Meanwhile, the Water for Energy group is improving the modelling of ground water movement to enable more efficient positioning of geothermal wells and the Fusion for Energy group is working to improve the accuracy of models to predict fusion energy output.

EoCoE is also developing simulations to support Meteorology for Energy including the ability to predict wind and solar power capacity in Europe. Unlike our normal daily forecast, energy forecasts need to calculate the impact of fog or cloud thickness on solar cells and wind fluctuations caused by extreme temperature shifts or storms on wind turbines. Without this more advanced form of weather forecasting, it is unfeasible for these renewable but variable energy sources to make up a large amount of the power supplied to our fluctuation sensitive grids. Before we are able to rely on wind and solar power, it will be essential to predict renewable energy output in time to make changes or supplement with alternate energy sources, especially in light of the previously mentioned increase in extreme weather events.

Suffice it to say that climate change poses a variety of enormous challenges. The above describes only some of the work EU HPC CoEs are already doing and none of what they may be able to do in the future! For instance, HiDALGO also has a migration modelling program currently designed to help policy makers divert resources most effectively to migrations caused by conflict. However, similar principles could theoretically be employed in combination with weather modelling like that done by ESiWACE to create a climate migration model. Where expertise meets collaboration, the possibilities are endless! Make sure to follow the links above and our social media handles below to stay up to date on EU HPC CoE activities.

FocusCoE at EuroHPC Summit Week 2022

With the support of the FocusCoE project, almost all European HPC Centres of Excellence (CoEs) participated once again in the EuroHPC Summit Week (EHPCSW) this year in Paris, France: the first EHPCSW in person since 2019’s event in Poland. Hosted by the French HPC agency Grand équipement national de calcul intensif  (GENCI), the conference was organised by Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE), the European Technology Platform for High-Performance Computing (ETP4HPC), The EuroHPC Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC JU), and the European Commission (EC).As usual, this year’s event gathered the main European HPC stakeholders from technology suppliers and HPC infrastructures to scientific and industrial HPC users in Europe.

At the workshop on the European HPC ecosystem on Tuesday 22 March at 14:45, where the diversity of the ecosystem was presented around the Infrastructure, Applications, and Technology pillars, project coordinator Dr. Guy Lonsdale from Scapos talked about FocusCoE and the CoEs’ common goal.

Later that day from 16:30 until 18:00h, the FocusCoE project hosted a session titled “European HPC CoEs: perspectives for a healthy HPC application eco-system and Exascale” involving most of the EU CoEs. The session discussed the key role of CoEs in the EuroHPC application pillar, focussing on their impact for building a vibrant, healthy HPC application eco-system and on perspectives for Exascale applications. As described by Dr. Andreas Wierse on behalf of EXCELLERAT, “The development is continuous. To prepare companies to make good use of this technology, it’s important to start early. Our task is to ensure continuity from using small systems up to the Exascale, regardless of whether the user comes from a big company or from an SME”.

Keen interest in the agenda was also demonstrated by attendees from HPC related academia and industry filling the hall to standing room only. In light of the call for new EU HPC Centres of Excellence and the increasing return to in-person events like EHPCSW, the high interest in preparing the EU for Exascale has a bright future.

FocusCoE Hosts Intel OneAPI Workshop for the EU HPC CoEs

On March 2, 2022 FocusCoE hosted Intel for a workshop introducing the oneAPI development environment. In all, over 40 researchers representing the EU HPC Centres of Excellence (CoEs)were able to attend the single day workshop to gain an overview of OneAPI. The 8 presenters from Intel gave presentations through the day covering the OneAPI vision, design, toolkits, a use case with GROMACS (which is already used by some of the EU HPC CoEs), and specific tools for migration and debugging.

Launched in 2019, the Intel OneAPI cross-industry, open, standards-based unified programming model is being designed to deliver a common developer experience across accelerator architectures. With the time saved designing for specific accelerators, OneAPI is intended to enable faster application performance, more productivity, and greater innovation. As summarized on Intel’s OneAPI website, “Apply your skills to the next innovation, and not to rewriting software for the next hardware platform.” Given the work that EU HPC CoEs are currently doing to optimise codes for Exascale HPC systems, any tools that make this process faster and more efficient can only boost CoEs capacity for innovation and preparedness for future heterogeneous systems.

The OneAPI industry initiative is also encouraging collaboration on the oneAPI specification and compatible oneAPI implementations. To that end, Intel is investing time and expertise into events like this workshop to give researchers the knowledge they need not only to use but help improve OneAPI. The presenters then also make themselves available after the workshop to answer questions from attendees on an ongoing basis. Throughout our event, participants were continuously able to ask questions and get real-time answers as well as offers for further support from software architects, technical consulting engineers, and the researcher who presented a use case. Lastly, the full video and slides from presentations are available below for any CoEs who were unable to attend or would like a second look at the detailed presentations.

CoEs at Teratec Forum 2021 and ISC21

15. June 2021

With the support of FocusCoE, a number of HPC CoEs will give short presentations at the virtual PRACE booth in the following two HPC-related events: Teratec Forum 2021 and ISC2021 that will take place towards the end of this month. See the schedule below for more details. Please reserve the slots in your calendars, registration details will be provided on the PRACE website soon!

“We are happy to see that FocusCoE was able to help the HPC CoEs to have a significant presence at this year’s editions of ISC and Teratec Forum, two major HPC events, enabled through our good synergies with PRACE”, says Guy Lonsdale, FocusCoE coordinator.


Teratec Forum 2021 schedule

Date / Event

Time slot CEST




Tue 22 June

11:00 – 11:15

EoCoE-II: Towards exascale for Energy

Edouard Audit, EoCoE-II coordinator

CEA (France)


14:30 – 14:45

POP CoE: Free Performance Assessments for the HPC Community

Bernd Mohr

 Jülich Supercomputing Centre

 Thu 24 June

13:45 – 14:00

EXCELLERAT – paving the way for the evolution towards Exascale

Amgad Dessoky / Sophia Honisch



ISC 2021 schedule

Date / Event

Time slot CEST




 Thu 24 June

13:45 – 14:00

EXCELLERAT – paving the way for the evolution towards Exascale

Amgad Dessoky / Sophia Honisch


Fri 25 June

11:00 – 11:15

The Center of Excellence for Exascale in Solid Earth (ChEESE)

Alice-Agnes Gabriel

Geophysik, University of Munich


15:30 – 15:45

EoCoE-II: Towards exascale for Energy

Edouard Audit, EoCoE-II coordinator

CEA (France)

Tue 29 June

11:00 – 11:15

Towards a maximum utilization of synergies of HPC Competences in Europe

Bastian Koller, HLRS


Wed 30 June

10:45 -11:00

RAISE: Bringing AI to Exascale

Dr.-Ing. Andreas Lintermann

Jülich Supercomputing Centre, Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH

Thu 1 July

11:00 -11:15

POP CoE: Free Performance Assessments for the HPC Community

Bernd Mohr

 Jülich Supercomputing Centre


14:30 -14:45

 TREX: an innovative view of HPC usage applied to Quantum Monte Carlo simulations

 Anthony Scemama (1), William Jalby (2), Cedric Valensi (2), Pablo de Oliveira Castro (2)

(1) Laboratoire de Chimie et Physique Quantiques, CNRS-Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France

(2) Université de Versailles St-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Université Paris Saclay, France


Please register to the short presentations through the PRACE event pages here:

PRACE Virtual booth at Teratec Forum  2021PRACE Virtual booth at ISC2021

List of innovations by the CoEs, spotted by the EU innovation radar

The EU Innovation Radar aims to identify high-potential innovations and innovators. It is an important source of actionable intelligence on innovations emerging from research and innovation projects funded through European Union programmes. 
These are the innovations from the HPC Centres of Excellence as spotted by the EU innovation radar:
GROMACS, a versatile package to perform molecular dynamics

Title: GROMACS, a versatile package to perform molecular dynamics
Market maturity: Exploring
Project: BioExcel
Innovation Topic: Excellent Science

HADDOCK, a versatile information-driven flexible docking approach for the modelling of biomolecular complexes
PMX, a versatile (bio-) molecular structure manipulation package
Faster Than Real Time (FTRT) environment for high-resolution simulations of earthquake generated tsunamis
Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Assessment (PSHA)
Urgent Computing services for the impact assessment in the immediate aftermath of an earthquake

Title: Urgent Computing services for the impact assessment in the immediate aftermath of an earthquake
Market maturity: Tech Ready
Market creation potential: High
Project: ChEESE
Innovation Topic: Excellent Science

Alya, HemeLB, HemoCell, OpenBF, Palabos-Vertebroplasty simulator, Palabos – Flow Diverter Simulator, BAC, HTMD, Playmolecule, Virtual Assay, CT2S, Insigneo Bone Tissue Suit
E-CAM Training offer on effective use of HPC simulations in quantum chemistry
Improved Simulation Software Packages for Molecular Dynamics
Improved software modules for Meso– and multi–scale modelling
Code auditing, optimization and performance assessment services for energy-oriented HPC simulations
New coupled earth system model

Table: New coupled earth system model
Market maturity: Tech Ready
Project: ESiWACE
Innovation Topic: Excellent Science

AMR capability in Alya code to enable advanced simulation services for engineering
Data Exchange & Workflow Portal: secure, fast and traceable online data transfer between data generators and HPC centers
FPGA Acceleration for Exascale Applications based on ALYA and AVBP codes
Use of GASPI to improve performance of CODA
GPU acceleration in TPLS to exploit the GPU-based architectures for Exascale
In-Situ Analysis of CFD Simulations

Title: In-Situ Analysis of CFD Simulations
Market maturity: Tech Ready
Market creation potential: High
Project: Excellerat
Innovation Topic: Excellent Science

Interactive in situ visualization in VR

Title: Interactive in situ visualization in VR
Market maturity: Tech Ready
Market creation potential: High
Project: Excellerat
Innovation Topic: Excellent Science

Machine Learning Methods for Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Data

Title: Machine Learning Methods for Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Data
Market maturity: Tech Ready
Market creation potential: Noteworthy
Project: Excellerat
Innovation Topic: Excellent Science

Parallel I/O in TPLS using PETSc library
Highly scalable Material Science Simulation Codes
Quantum Simulation as a Service

Title: Quantum Simulation as a Service
Market maturity: Exploring
Market creation potential: Noteworthy
Project: MaX
Innovation Topic: Excellent Science

Simulation Code Optimisation and Scaling
Novel Materials Discovery (NOMAD) Repository
NOMAD Encyclopedia Service: allows users to see, compare, explore, and understand computed materials data
An ICT platform prototype for systematically tracing public sentiment, its evolution towards a policy, its components and arguments linked to them
Customer-Specific Performance Analysis for Parallel Codes
Repository of powerful tools (codes, pattern/best-practice descriptions, experimental results) for the HPC community

EXCELLERAT, MaX and POP at the International CAE Conference 2020

4. December 2020


The three HPC centres of excellence EXCELLERAT, POP and MaX participated in the 36th edition of the International CAE conference 2020, that was held online from 30th November until 3rd December 2020.

Under the topic “At the epicentre of the digital transformation of industry”, high-performance computing is a key enabler for this digital transformation and it was presented at a dedicated collateral event on Wednesday, December 2nd at 14:00h CET. 

In this session, the technical director of EXCELLERAT Amgad Dessoky presented a session titled “EXCELLERAT: paving the way for the evolution towards Exascale”. The EXCELLERAT activity brings together European experts to establish a Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Engineering Applications on HPC with a broad service portfolio, paving the way for the evolution towards Exascale. The aim is to solve highly complex and costly engineering problems, and create enhanced technological solutions even at the development stage.

In the exhibition, MaX and EXCELLERAT had a joint virtual booth together to show their latest results. The virtual format made it possible to interact with both CoEs via video and chat. The booth was visible for three months after the event. 

POP CoE was also present at the event with a virtual booth to exhibit its latest research results. 

>> CAE Conference Website

Success Story: AiiDA Platform Accelerates Materials Discovery

Highlighted Centre of Excellence

MAX (MAterials design at the eXascale) is a European Centre of Excellence which enables materials modelling, simulations, discovery and design at the frontiers of the current and future High Performance Computing (HPC), High Throughput Computing (HTC) and data analytics technologies. >> Learn more about MAX

Quick Summary

  • Industry Sector Involved:

    Materials for energy

  • Software and hardware used:

    AiiDA (Automated Interactive Infrastructure and DAtabase for computational science), developed by MaX CoE and partners, including NCCR MARVEL and Bosch Research, on the Piz Daint supercomputer at Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS).

  • Challenge:

    Finding new candidate materials for application as solid-state electrolytes in next generation batteries.

  • Solution:

    A simple and efficient framework to predict the diffusion of lithium ions (Li ions) in solid-state materials, then using the AiiDA platform to employ it in a large-scale computational screening.

Organisations Involved:

NCCR MARVEL is a center on Computational Design and Discovery of Novel Materials created by the Swiss National Science Foundation in May 2014. MARVEL targets the accelerated design and discovery of novel materials, via a materials’ informatics platform of database-driven high-throughput quantum simulations, powered by:

  • advanced electronic-structure capabilities, for predictive accuracy
  • innovative sampling methods to explore configuration/composition space
  • application of big-data concepts to computational materials science.

Bosch Research and Technology Center: Founded in 1999, the North American division of Corporate Research at Bosch has been shaping the technology of Bosch’s future for nearly 20 years. The team has worked in close collaboration with its colleagues and counterparts in Germany and around the world. The center is committed to providing technologies and systems for the four business sectors of Bosch — Mobility Solutions, Energy and Building Technology, Industrial Technology and Consumer Goods – by scouting and collaborating with top universities and industry partners in North America.


Solid-state electrolytes have the potential to enhance both safety and performance of Li-ion batteries, allowing for novel cathode and anode chemistry, preventing the growth of Li–metal dendrites — the needle-like formations of lithium that grow inside batteries, causing devices to lose power more quickly, short out, or sometime even catch fire — and pushing the miniaturization of battery cells. 

Despite intense research in this field for decades though, no known solid-state ionic conductor satisfies all the requirements needed for battery applications. This makes the search for new materials a worthwhile endeavor. Computational approaches in the search for new materials are less human-intensive and easily parallelizable and precede synthesis and characterization in the laboratory. Computational screening relies on simulations of the electronic structure, to determine the insulating character of a material, and molecular dynamics simulations to predict the Li-ion diffusion coefficients. 

Overall, thousands of calculations need to be performed, making automatization and reproducibility a key requirement. In addition, methods need to be computationally inexpensive enough to be run on thousands of materials, yet accurate enough to be predictive.


We first reduced the computational burden of modelling the potential energy surface of lithium diffusing in a solid-state ionic conductor to develop a workable framework. We then demonstrated a procedure for running these extensive molecular dynamics simulations in a largescale computational screening. AiiDA made this possible by allowing the automation and explicit storage of the provenance. The novelty of AiiDA in the field of materials informatics is that every calculation is stored as a node in a graph, with input data forming incoming nodes, and output data stored as outcoming nodes, that can again be input to a different calculation. 

In addition, AiiDA allows for a high degree of automation and parallelization via its daemon. Every calculation presented in the paper “High-throughput computational screening for solid-state Li-ion conductors” was run with AiiDA.

Business impact:

We found five materials with fast ionic diffusion, some in the range of the well-known superionic conductor Li10GeP2S12, such as for example the Li-oxide chloride Li5Cl3O, the doped halides Li2CsI3, LiGaI4, and LiGaBr3, or the Li-tantalate Li7TaO6. In addition, we found 40 materials that show significant diffusion at 1000 K, though they will need to be investigated more thoroughly before their suitability can be determined. All of these potential fast-ionic conductors could be studied further, in more detail, by experiment and simulation, and could result in new fast-ionic conductors or even electrolytes for next generation solid-state Li-ion batteries. Our data could also serve to search for descriptors of fast ionic conduction, which would be of significant interest to the community.

This work benefits society by identifying inorganic solid-state lithium-ionic conductor compounds that could be used as electrolytes to mitigate or overcome the severe safety challenges posed by the use of volatile and flammable liquid or polymer electrolytes in today’s Li-ion batteries. Complete replacement of the liquid electrolyte by a solid ceramic would result in an all-solid-state Li-ion battery, highly beneficial due to the higher electrochemical stability of inorganic electrolytes, compared to their organic counterparts.


Benefits for further research:

  • We developed efficient ways of simulating the diffusion of lithium in the solid state and gained physical insight into how charge-density rearrangements or lattice vibrations affect it.
  • We developed a framework for predicting the diffusion of Li ions in solid-state materials and a process for applying it in largescale computational screening.
  • We identified new ceramic compounds for in-depth experimental investigation

Related Images :

The figure shows a schematic representation of the screening funnel. Structures from experimental repositories go sequentially through several computational filters. Each stage of the screening discards unsuitable structures based on properties ever more complex to calculate. The final outcome is of a few tens of viable structures that could be potential candidates for novel solid-state Li-ion conductors.

ETP4HPC handbook 2020 released

6. November 2020

The 2020 edition of the ETP4HPC Handbook of HPC projects is available. It offers a comprehensive overview over the European HPC landscape that currently consists of around 50 active projects and initiatives. Amongst these are the 14 Centres of Excellence and FocusCoE, that are also represented in this edition of the handbook.

>> Read here