Jan 15 2017

The fate of cancelled first-call NER300 awards

The EC is poised to publish a report on its “outcomes of the analysis” of NER300.

In September the EC warned Member States that 553 M EUR of awards were likely to be cancelled due to projects failing to meet a major December 2016 deadline. The report will set out an alternative use that can be made of that money.

Four options had been on the table, including a third NER300 call, giving more money to NER300’s active projects or rolling the money over to ETS Innovation Fund (suggested by Commissioner Cañete in June). In the end the EC, with the support of most Member States, has settled on “Option 2”, which involves topping up some of the EC’s non-grant financing schemes: EDP Innovfin, EFSI and maybe the Cleaner Transport Facility. An amendment to the NER300 Decision to allow this transfer will be put before the Climate Change Committee in April.

A reference to the need for “strong linkages” between ETS Innovation Fund and two of these financing schemes was made in the Accelerating Clean Energy Innovation Communication of 30 Nov 2016 (COM(2016) 763). DG CLIMA was one of four DGs involved in a “collective exercise” to write it. A reference to “an enlarged” EDP Innovfin appears in the Horizon 2020 scoping paper for the Energy Work Programme 2018-2020.

NER300 money handed to these instruments will be tracked separately to their existing capital. This is to ensure that the Member States (represented in the Climate Change Committee) can monitor the projects selected for financing and, if the NER300 portion of the capital is not fully subscribed by the end of 2020, have this remaining amount refunded to them. Projects funded with the infused NER300 capital will need to follow NER300’s rules for being innovative renewable or CCS, knowledge-sharing (though perhaps in modified form), and others.

“With the allocation from NER300 funds, the [Cleaner Transport] Facility would support the demonstration and deployment of innovative renewable energy technologies in the transport sector (e.g. rapid charging stations for electric vehicles along major motorways, alternatively fuelled buses, such as with electric and hydrogen fuel cells),” the EC says. The infrastructural examples in that list are outside NER300’s original scope. The EC has asked Member States to comment specifically on whether they have enough innovative transport-related projects to warrant giving a boost to the CTF.

The Zero-Emissions Platform, representing the CCS community, supports the re-allocation of unspent funds to financial instruments, but suggested in a November 2016 position paper that a special instrument dedicated to CCS should be set up. Instead the EC has chosen to expand the scope of EDP Innovfin to include CCS.

Jan 14 2017

Commission due to release update on NER300 status imminently

“Of the projects awarded under the first call only three projects have been withdrawn,” announced the European Commission a year and a half ago, even as ever more projects were pushing back their Date of Entry into Operation to the latest possible date.

The situation was presented more soberly in September 2016, 45 months after First Call projects had been notified of their award and 3 months before their deadline to obtain all relevant permits and reach their Final Investment Decision. The EC revealed that six projects out of the 19 in the First Call had reached Final Investment Decision. By the end of November, that number had risen to 9. The deadline for first call projects has now passed. “Full clarity on the scale of unused funds from the first call will be known by the end of February 2017,” states the EC.

Roman Doubrava, deputy head of the unit responsible for NER300 in the EC, said on 30 Nov, “We have been following the projects going on facing different difficulties, and there are some lessons learned. We will be publishing some outcomes of the analysis we are currently making towards the end of the year.” He was speaking at the SET Plan conference 2016 in Bratislava. That report is still not public, but is expected to be published before DG CLIMA’s conference, “Finance for innovation: Towards the ETS Innovation Fund” on 20 Jan 2017. This is the second conference on ETS Innovation Fund (details on the first one here).

The Commission’s only regular, formal and public report on the status of NER300 projects has, since 2014, been the annual publication of the latest version of the award decision. It contains the date that each project should enter operation. Every year more and more projects have pushed their date of entry into operation to the latest allowable date (details).