EU opens applications for €10bn, ten-year clean tech innovation fund

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The European Commission has opened this year’s €1 billion Innovation Fund cash pot dedicated to technologies offering great emissions reduction potential.

The new fund is being financed by revenues from the EU’s Emissions Trading System and its forerunner the NER 300 program. With the call having gone out for the first €1 billion of project funding applications, the plan is to throw the same amount of cash at emission-reduction innovation ideas every year for a decade.

The spending is part of the EU’s €1 trillion green recovery plan which has been launched on the premise projects which win public backing should not only not run counter to the political bloc’s 2050 net-zero-carbon ambition but that a significant chunk of the cash available should help along that climate change progress.

This year’s billion-euro giveaway is dedicated to market-ready technologies that need funding to scale up without the significant risks associated with commercialization.

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“This call for proposals comes at just the right time,” said European Commission executive vice president Frans Timmermans on Friday. “The EU will invest €1 billion in promising, market-ready projects such as clean hydrogen or other low-carbon solutions for energy-intensive industries like steel, cement and chemicals. We will also support energy storage, grid solutions and carbon capture and storage. These large scale investments will help restart the EU economy and create a green recovery that leads us to climate neutrality in 2050.”

There will be a further €8 million for project development help for technologies which require more development before market-readiness and it is not only projects in the 27 EU member states which can benefit, with worthy tech in Iceland and Norway also eligible to apply to the €1 billion fund for up to 60% of their project costs. On top of that, Innovation Fund backing can be coupled with other state aid initiatives and EU funding packages.

With the fund earmarking cash for renewables; energy-intensive industry; energy storage; and carbon capture, use and storage projects, applicants will be vetted for their innovation level and financial and technical maturity, as well as their potential to avoid greenhouse gas emission and to be scaled up cost-efficiently.

Applications to the fund will be handled by the EU Funding and Tenders portal and implementation will be carried out by the Executive Agency for Networks and Innovation. The deadline for the submission of applications is October 29. The European Investment Bank will handle requests for the €8 million for project development assistance.

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