The EU is investing over €62 million in 17 small-scale innovative clean-tech projects with a fourth round of awards under the EU Innovation Fund. Grants disbursed help bring breakthrough technologies to the market in energy-intensive industries, renewable energy, hydrogen, and energy storage. This will accelerate Europe’s clean energy transition and decarbonisation, across a large geographic spread and a wide variety of industrial sectors. Selected projects are located in eleven EU Member States: Belgium, Finland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and, for the first time, Czechia, Cyprus, Lithuania, and Slovenia. Sectors covered include production of renewable hydrogen, wind energy, and glass manufacturing.
The 17 projects will each receive grants between €2.5 and €7.5 million, funded by revenues from emissions trading. They were evaluated by independent experts based on their ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil-based technologies and to innovate well beyond the state-of-the-art, while being sufficiently mature for deployment. Other selection criteria included the projects’ potential to grow to scale as well as cost effectiveness.
In addition, a small number of projects that are promising but not yet sufficiently mature for a grant will be considered for project development assistance by the European Investment Bank. These will be announced in the second quarter of 2023.
Projects in brief
Glass, ceramics, and construction materials (5 projects): A project in Belgium will use waste from steel production and sequester CO2 in an innovative construction material for cement-free buildings. Another project in Slovenia will demonstrate a first-of-a-kind regenerative glass furnace that will reduce natural gas consumption thanks to partial electrification of the melting process. A third project will develop a hybrid furnace for glass wool production in the Netherlands. Finally, two projects in Italy will reduce emissions from the production of high-quality glass through the hybrid use of electricity and gas in the melting furnace and through heat recovery in manufacturing.
Refineries and hydrogen (4 projects): A project in the Netherlands will use a breakthrough technology to produce crude sugar oil from forestry and agricultural residues to fuel ship engines. Thanks to the combination of solar photovoltaic (PV) and biomass, a project in Czechia will produce green hydrogen to supply local bus, train and truck operators. Another project will use a 2 MW electrolyser to produce green hydrogen in Cyprus for transport use. A fourth project in Poland will create an installation to produce green hydrogen, powered by renewable energy and a heat recovery system.
Cement and lime (1 project): To decarbonise part of the cement production process, a project in Spain will produce synthesis gas from waste residues to replace a large amount of fossil fuels used during production.
Other energy-intensive industries (1 project): A project in Spain will develop a highly scalable compression heat pump system to increase heat waste recovery in energy-intensive industries.
Renewable energy (4 projects): A project in France will demonstrate an innovative PV structure, compatible with agriculture production. In Spain, a project will use an autonomous wing sail technology to reduce fuel consumption in maritime transport. A project in Finland will use geothermal heating and cooling system in a building complex to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Finally, in France, a project will demonstrate a highly innovative hydrogen-powered pusher boat for bulk transports in the Paris metropolitan region.
Energy storage (1 project): In Lithuania, a project will showcase a novel solar PV and storage system that will allow commercial and industrial electricity consumers to meet 100% of their needs with cost-effective and locally produced electricity.
Manufacturing of components for energy storage or renewables production (1 project): A project will start the production of a new battery cooler technology for electric vehicles that reduces costs and CO2 emissions. The project will be implemented simultaneously in Czechia, France and Spain.
The Innovation Fund is one of the world’s largest funding programmes for the demonstration and commercialisation of innovative low-carbon technologies. Financed by revenues from the auctioning of allowances from the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) it has a currently estimated revenue of approximately €38 billion until 2030. The Innovation Fund aims to create the right financial incentives for companies and public bodies to invest now in the next generation of low-carbon technologies and give EU companies a first-mover advantage to become global technology leaders.
Successful projects under this second call will now start preparing their individual grant agreements with the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA), the implementing agency of the Fund. These are expected to be finalised in the second quarter of 2023, allowing the Commission to adopt the corresponding grant award decision and start distributing the grants.
On 19 January 2023, policy makers, investors, and industry leaders will gather at the Financing Innovative Clean Tech Conference to discuss with public and private financiers about the many business opportunities brought about by the Innovation Fund. The projects from the second call for large-scale proposals that successfully finalised their grant agreements will sign their agreements during the event.
On 3 November, the Commission launched the third call for large-scale projects. As announced in the REPowerEU Plan, the funding available was doubled to €3 billion to further support the EU’s independence from Russian fossil fuels, with specific RePowerEU topics on electrification of industry and hydrogen, manufacturing and mid-size pilots. Projects that were not successful in the previous calls are encouraged to re-apply. The call will remain open until 16 March 2023.
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