EC opens €4 billion call for proposals for net-zero technologies

Alina Oprea
The European Commission has opened the Innovation Fund's 2023 call for proposals with a record budget of €4 billion to support the deployment of innovative decarbonization technologies. The call is funded by revenues from the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), underlining the importance of carbon pricing for the green transition. The Commission has increased the overall funds available and doubled the budget allocated for cleantech manufacturing projects compared to the previous call. €1.4 billion is available to strengthen industrial manufacturing capacity, technology leadership, and supply chain resilience in Europe.

”The success of the European Green Deal depends on our ability to innovate and decarbonize our industry, our transport, and our energy sector. We are investing massively in this transition by using the revenues of emissions trading. This is a sustainable model that brings down emissions and boosts the competitiveness of European industry”, says Maroš Šefčovič, Executive Vice-President for European Green Deal, Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight.

Project promoters may apply for grants under five topics with distinct budget and capital expenditure (CAPEX) requirements:

  • General decarbonization (large-scale) - €1.7 billion available for projects with CAPEX above €100 million
  • General decarbonization (medium-scale) - €500 million available for projects with CAPEX between €20 million and €100 million
  • General decarbonization (small-scale) - €200 million available for projects with CAPEX between €2.5 million and €20 million
  • Cleantech manufacturing - €1.4 billion available for projects with CAPEX above €2.5 million focusing on the manufacturing of components for renewable energy, energy storage, heat pumps, and hydrogen production
  • Pilot - €200 million available for projects with CAPEX above €2.5 million focusing on deep decarbonization.

Projects will be assessed based on their potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, their degree of innovation, maturity, applicability, and cost efficiency. The Innovation Fund can cover up to 60% of a project's relevant costs. Projects located in the EEA are eligible to apply, and following the recent revision of the EU ETS Directive the Innovation Fund calls are now also open to the maritime, road transport, and buildings sectors, in addition to technologies in energy-intensive industries (including aviation), renewable energy or energy storage. Promising projects that are not sufficiently mature for a grant or not selected for funding due to budget limitations may benefit from the European Investment Bank's Project Development Assistance (PDA).

”The Innovation Fund is our key tool to support European industries in the transition to climate neutrality. More and more innovative projects are announced in Europe every day. The Innovation Fund ensures that the most promising ones in terms of emission reductions and scalability come to fruition. On the road to net zero, we need to combine climate imperatives with economic opportunities. With a larger budget and €1.4 billion dedicated to manufacturing clean technologies, this year's call shows our determination to think big and move fast”, says Wopke Hoekstra, Commissioner for Climate Action.

Project promoters have until 9 April 2024, 17:00 (CET), to apply via the EU Funding and Tenders Portal. Applicants are strongly encouraged to attend the IF23 Call Info Day, which will take place online on 7 December 2023. This event is an opportunity to learn about the new features, discover the application process, and ask questions to the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA), which implements the Innovation Fund's calls for proposals. Innovation Fund National Contact Points also organize Info Days in most Member States. Applicants will be informed about evaluation results in the fourth quarter of 2024. Successful applicants will sign grant agreements in the first quarter of 2025.

With an estimated revenue of €40 billion from the EU Emissions Trading System between 2020 and 2030, the Innovation Fund aims to create financial incentives for companies and public authorities to invest in cutting-edge low-carbon technologies and support Europe's transition to climate neutrality. The Innovation Fund has already awarded about €6.5 billion to more than 100 innovative projects through its previous calls for proposals.

Today, the Innovation Fund also opens the first pilot auction under the European Hydrogen Bank, with an €800 million budget available for project developers in the EEA. Projects cannot combine support from the Innovation Fund call and the European Hydrogen Bank pilot.

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Green Forum  |  17 May, 2024 at 9:00 AM