EU launches application process for energy infrastructure grants

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The European Union has opened up the application process for energy infrastructure grants under its Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).

The 250, mainly electricity and gas, cross-border infrastructure projects allocated to the CEF "projects of common interest" list in October will be eligible for a grant of up to half the costs of their studies and construction work from a €750 million (US$1.03 billion) funding pot.

Announcing the opening of the application process on Monday, the EU said up to 75% of costs could be covered by a CEF grant in "exceptional" cases.

To be eligible for a grant, projects have to demonstrate infrastructure benefits for at least two EU member states and have to be shown to be commercially non-viable and therefore dependent on EU funding.

In his remarks announcing the grant eligibility criteria, EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger mentioned the role the Ukraine crisis has played in highlighting the need to tighten EU energy security on the same day City of London investor Guy Hands — in an article in the Guardian newspaper — made the argument that Ukraine demonstrated the need fort he U.K. government to invest in renewables.

The deadline for applications for CEF funding is on August 19 with a final decision due by November.

The EU has allocated €5.85 billion of the CEF for trans-European energy infrastructure projects up to 2020.