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Funding of Low-carbon Technologies
The European Investment Bank, set up in 1958 when the Treaty of Rome came into force, helps to finance energy projects by providing loans and other structured financing options. The bank and its partners have raised billions of euros for climate investment through funds such as the Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund, the European Energy Efficiency Fund and vehicles such as the Marguerite Fund, the Crescent Clean Energy Fund, the Facility for Energy Sustainability and Security of Supply, the Green Initiative and the Climate Awareness Bond. The bank also supports energy efficiency via joint EIB/European Commission initiatives such as ELENA and JASPERS. Risk in the research, development & innovation (RD&I) process is shared through the bank’s InnovFin programme.
The EU’s Cohesion Fund was set up in 1994 to provide funding for environmental and trans-European network projects. Since 2007 it has also been authorised to support projects in fields relating to sustainable development, such as energy efficiency and renewable energy. The EUR 63.4 billion fund aims to reduce economic and social disparity between EU countries and promote sustainable development. The Fund supports energy-related projects that benefit the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing the use of renewable energy or improving energy efficiency. Part of the Cohesion Fund will go into implementing the EU’s plans for Energy Union with the help of the Energy and Managing Authorities Network. Another part of the Cohesion Fund also goes into supporting the Connecting Europe Facility.
The New Entrants Reserve fund, more commonly known as NER 300, was launched by the European Commission in 2008. NER 300 is one of the world’s largest funding programmes for innovative low-carbon energy demonstration projects. Funded through the EU emissions trading system (ETS), it provides EUR 2.1 billion in co-funding to projects demonstrating environmentally-safe carbon capture and storage (CCS) and innovative renewable energy (RES) technologies on a commercial-scale within the European Union.
The EU also supports the uptake of low-carbon technology internationally, through the Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund (GEEREF), an innovative global risk capital fund that uses limited public money to mobilise private investment in small-scale energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in developing countries and economies in transition. GEEREF was launched in 2008 with EUR 112 million in funding from the European Union, Germany and Norway.
The European Energy Programme for Recovery (EEPR) was established in 2009 to address both Europe’s economic crisis and European energy policy objectives. Almost EUR 4 billion were assigned to co-finance EU energy projects to boost economic recovery, increase the security of energy supply and contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The three sectors meeting these conditions were gas and electricity infrastructure, offshore wind energy, and carbon capture and storage projects. In total, 59 energy projects received funding: 44 gas and electricity infrastructure projects, nine offshore wind projects and six carbon capture and storage projects.
The EU’s Research and Innovation Programme Horizon 2020 is providing EUR 5.931 billion in funding towards energy projects between 2014 and 2020. These projects aid in the creation and improvement of clean energy technologies such as smart energy networks, tidal power, and energy storage. Previously, energy projects were funded by the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7), which ran from 2007 to 2013.
The European Commission’s Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) officially started its activities on 1 January 2014 in order to implement the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and parts of Horizon 2020 related to smart, green and integrated transport and secure, clean and efficient energy, in addition to other legacy programmes. INEA is the successor of the Trans-European Transport Network Executive Agency (TEN-T EA), which was created by the European Commission in 2006 to manage the technical and financial implementation of its TEN-T programme. INEA’s main objective is to increase the efficiency of the technical and financial management of the programmes it manages.
Managed by INEA, the Connecting Europe Facility is the EU’s EUR 33 billion plan for boosting energy, transport, and digital infrastructure between 2014 and 2020. Under the CEF, EUR 5.85 billion is available for trans-European energy infrastructure projects such as gas pipelines, transmission grids, LNG terminals, gas storage, and smart grids. The European Commission has drawn up a list of 248 EU projects of common interest (PCIs) which may apply for CEF funding. This list is updated every two years.
The JRC organised a workshop on “Funding innovative low-carbon energy demonstration projects in the context of the NER 300 programme” in the margins of the 9th SET-Plan Conference in Bratislava, Slovakia on 30 November 2016. The aim of the workshop was to provide an overview of the current state of the NER 300 programme. Funded projects shared their experience with the audience and a panel discussed challenges and opportunities.
A study on “European Energy Industry Investments” has been prepared at the request of the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE). The study provides an overall assessment of European investments in the electricity sector. It concludes by providing policy recommendations to facilitate the investments in the electricity sector that are needed to enable a transition to a low-carbon energy supply, while realising a fully integrated and interconnected electricity system, enhancing competitiveness and ensuring security of electricity supply.
In March 2017, the International Energy Agency (IEA) published the report “Perspectives for the Energy Transition - Investment Needs for a Low-Carbon Energy System”, prepared at the request of the German government to provide input for the G20 presidency. The analysis looks at what would be required from the energy sector to limit the global temperature rise to well below 2°C.
The European Energy Research Alliance (EERA) has been working since 2008 to align the R&D activities of individual European researchorganisations with SET-Plan priorities, and to establish a joint programming framework at the EU level. The Alliance conceives and implements Joint Research Programmes in support of the SET-Plan by pooling and integrating talent, activities and resources from National Research Institutes in Europe, combining national and EU sources of funding and maximising complementarities and synergies.
General SET-Plan related news and activities from JRC/SETIS
On February 1, 2017, the European Commission published its Second Report on the State of the Energy Union. This report shows that the modernisation of the European Union economy and the transition to a low-carbon era are underway.
On February 17, 2017, EU Member States agreed on the Commission’s proposal to invest EUR 444 million in priority European energy infrastructure projects. The 18 selected electricity, smart grids and gas projects will contribute to achieving the Energy Union’s goals by connecting European energy networks, increasing security of energy supply, and contributing to the sustainable development by integrating renewable energy sources across the EU.
In 2016, the SET-Plan community agreed on ambitious targets in terms of its 10 R&I actions through a wide participatory process involving national governments, industry and research actors representing 16,700 entities under 154 umbrella organisations. The important progress achieved so far was captured in an Integrated SET-Plan progress report, 2016 edition, called “Transforming the European Energy System through INNOVATION”.
Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission’s Vice President in charge of the Energy Union, in his article “Energy Union is about re-inventing our economy” published in January 2017 on the Euractiv portal, writes that the Winter Package of Energy Union laws will be a turning point for clean energy. He argues that the spirit of the package goes further than clean energy or tackling climate change and it is also about economic transformation.
In the first quarter of 2017, the Joint Research Centre published a report on Monitoring R&I in Low-Carbon Energy Technologies, the aim of which is to present the methodology that SETIS applies for the evaluation of selected key performance indicators (KPIs) included in the State of the Energy Union report to measure progress in research and innovation (R&I) in Europe.
Recently, the Joint Research Centre published the JRC Wind Energy Status Report and the JRC Ocean Energy Status Report – 2016 Edition. These reports present the market status and the technology developments on these specific technologies.
Other reports published since the last SET-Plan update include an Assessment of potential bottlenecks along the materials supply chain for the future deployment of low-carbon energy and transport technologies in the EU and a report on EMHIRES dataset Part I: Wind power generation, which provides an innovative methodology for capturing local geographical information to generate meteorologically derived wind power time series at a high temporal and spatial resolution.
EUROGIA2020, the EUREKA Cluster for low-carbon energy technologies, organised a brokerage event in Dusseldorf, Germany on March 13, 2017 as part of Energy Storage Europe 2017. This event, supported by the National Research Council Canada, aimed to bring the Canadian energy industry together with its European counterparts to generate transnational energy technology projects.
In the context of the process towards a SET-Plan Integrated Roadmap and Action Plan, organisations (universities, research institutes, companies, public institutions and associations) involved in research and innovation activities in the energy field are invited to register in the European energy R&I landscape database, which aims at facilitating partnerships and collaboration across Europe. Registration is open to stakeholders from the EU and H2020 associated countries. Organisations are able to indicate their area of activity according to the energy system challenges and themes, as identified in the SET-Plan process towards an Integrated Roadmap and Action Plan. The database is publicly available on the SETIS website.
The SET-Plan Steering Group met on December 1, 2016, under the umbrella of the 9th SET-Plan Conference in Bratislava, Slovakia.
The last SET-Plan Steering Group meeting took place on March 8, 2017 in Brussels. The main discussion points were the Winter Package, Energy Union Governance, in particular its fifth dimension on Research , Innovation and Competitiveness, the link between the SET-Plan and the ‘Accelerating clean energy innovation’ Communication, and progress on the implementation on the 10 SET-Plan Actions.