On Energy Information Day 5 December, the Charlemagne building in Brussels was packed to capacity as delegates travelled from all over the EU to learn about the new opportunities for funding energy projects in Horizon 2020.
Introducing Horizon 2020, Marie Donnelly (DG ENER) said that she was proud that Europe is leading the transition to sustainable energy. She also commented on the rise of the ‘prosumer’ and the potential for decentralized energy systems to contribute to the sustainable energy future.
András Siegler, Director for Energy (DG RTD) said that new technologies were needed in the battle against climate change, and to boost European competitiveness. ‘We have a vision for 2050. We are just at the beginning and must exploit the potential for innovation in the energy transition. Horizon 2020 brings an opportunity to act together.’
Giving an overview of the work programme itself, Paul Verhoef (DG RTD) said that the calls ranged from supporting new knowledge and new technologies to market uptake. External evaluators are chosen for the assessment of the proposals submitted. Paul Hodson (DG ENER) explained that there is a greater emphasis on energy efficiency, saying:
'We see a key role for energy efficiency – in 2020, 2030 and 2050 – and we know it makes sense for the economy.'
The four main areas under the topic of energy efficiency are: A. Buildings and consumers B. Heating and cooling, C. Industry and products, and D. Finance for sustainable energy. Topics of particular interest to public authorities include:
- (EE7) Enhancing the capacity of public authorities, public procurement of innovative sustainable energy policies and measures
This call is for proposals empowering public authorities to develop, finance and implement ambitious sustainable energy policies and plans (for instance under the Covenant of Mayors initiative), on the basis of reliable data and analyses. Public actors are encouraged to look at sectors with high energy saving potential such as buildings, industry and urban mobility.
- (EE8) Public procurement of innovative sustainable energy solutions
The scope includes supporting public authorities in procuring fast-evolving information and communication technologies such as Green Data Centres. Activities to support networking of public procurers or the use of PPI (Public Procurement of Innovative solutions) or PCP (Pre-commercial Procurement) are to be included.
Public authorities may also be uniquely placed to coordinate large groups of buyers ( see EE17: Driving energy innovation through large buyer groups ).
Finance for sustainable energy is covered by calls EE19-EE21. EE20 in particular is designed to provide technical assistance for public authorities to develop innovative bankable and aggregate projects for sustainable energy investment. Project budgets in the region of EUR 6 million – 50 million are expected here.
Applicants to Horizon 2020 are encouraged to seek out synergies with the relevant Managing Authorities in charge of the structural funds (ESI) - which give considerable opportunities for financing energy efficiency.
Responding to questions from the floor, Vincent Berruto (EACI) explained that key elements of Intelligent Energy Europe – policy support, capacity building and financing – were now part of the energy efficiency call.
Robert Goodchild (DG ENER) gave more detail on the Smart Cities and Communities calls, with a budget of EUR 90 million (to support 4 to 5 cities) rising to EUR 106 million (5 or 6 cities). He advised applicants to 'go beyond what exists. Look at www.concerto.eu and take it to the next level – look at the lessons learnt.’
He also said:
'We are looking for projects at the nexus of urban energy production and use, urban transport and mobility, urban information and communication technology.'
Proposals must have at least 2-3 ‘lighthouse’ cities developing and implementing solutions. There must also be 2-3 ‘follower’ cities with clear intentions via urban plans. Multi-sector input is required – it is not enough to have only local authorities involved. Goodchild emphasized the need for financially sound proposals, and inclusive projects that showed wide variety.
Applicants are encouraged to read the work programme carefully, including the footnotes. Keep an eye out for national information days on 2014 and 2015 calls – and good luck!