"Great — I’ve won an NER300 award! Now what?"

At some point in the coming months, and in any case before you reach Final Investment Decision, the Member State where your installation will be located will sign a contract with you (a ‘legally-binding instrument’, LBI). The contract will follow the Specifications given in Annex 3 to the Award Decision.

The EC has not yet adopted the Award Decision, which is why the version posted on the EC website on 18 Dec 2012 contains blanks, red ink and is flagged as a ‘draft’. Its publication in the Official Journal of the EU will mark the date of adoption. That will happen around the middle of June 2013.

  • Within two years of adoption you must:
    • reach Final Investment Decision
    • obtain all the permits needed to implement the project
  • Within four years of adoption your project must enter into operation. A delay of up to one year is tolerated, but any project that is late might find it is unable to secure its NER300 award in full.
  1. When will we know more about the LBI?

    The EC is holding an info day for Member States in April 2013 on the next steps they need to take. The EC will present a template for projects to use to report their performance. At least one project is in a hurry to sign an LBI with its hosting Member State as soon as possible. The Beta Renewables bioethanol installation (referred to as ‘BEST’ in the Award Decision), located in Italy, wants to start operation on 1 June 2013.

"Can I get my NER300 grant upfront, like the Dutch biomethanol project BIOMCN?"

The reasons for wanting the grant ‘upfront’ are clear: it could be used to cover project CAPEX. Member States should already have notified the EC of any projects for which they wanted to activate the upfront finance option in Submission Form 1, which accompanied the project proposal.

It is unlikely (but not completely impossible) that at this stage projects can still apply for upfront financing. Projects will need to come to an arrangement with their Member State that spreads the risk of underperformance by the installation appropriately between the Member State and the Project, since the Member State is liable towards the European Commission in case of underperformance. This agreement should be reached before the LBI is signed.

The reasons for thinking there might still be a possibility to apply are:

  1. It would be easy for the EC to understand why upfront was not asked for initially: projects had no idea at the time that they applied whether they would be awarded funding, so it was premature for them to hold the necessary delicate discussions with their Member State. It is logical for the upfront finance option to be addressed after project awards have been made.
  2. Implementing the change in the Award Decision would be relatively trivial. A few numbers would need to be changed. Several circumstances are already foreseen in which the EC will amend the Award Decision, so the principle of amending the Award Decision is established.

However, even if the EC is prepared to accept upfront funding requests, it would want to cover all amendments to the Award Decision in one go. Probably it would wait for pressure to come from several projects before agreeing to amend the Decision, then it would launch a process, with a deadline, to gather all requests. NER300.com’s consulting services could be useful for identifying these projects and bringing them into contact with each other and in pushing for the upfront finance option. Make contact if interested.

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