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Call: Mainstreaming sustainable energy finance and integrating energy performance in EU sustainable finance criteria and standards

Programme
Acronym LIFE-CET
Description of programme
"LIFE - sub-programme “Clean Energy Transition”"

The specific objectives of the sub-programme "Clean Energy Transition" are the following:

  • to develop, demonstrate and promote innovative techniques, methods and approaches for reaching the objectives of Union legislation and policy on the transition to sustainable renewable energy and increased energy efficiency, and to contribute to the knowledge base and to the application of best practice;
  • to support the development, implementation, monitoring and enforcement of relevant Union legislation and policy on the transition to sustainable renewable energy or increased energy efficiency, including by improving governance at all levels, in particular through enhancing capacities of public and private actors and the involvement of civil society;
  • to catalyse the large-scale deployment of successful technical and policy-related solutions for implementing relevant Union legislation on the transition to renewable energy or increased energy efficiency by replicating results, integrating related objectives into other policies and into public and private sector practices, mobilising investment and improving access to finance.

This sub-programme will fund the activities responding to the specific topics defined in the annual calls for proposals which are based on the list of priority topics. Other activities related to energy efficiency and renewable energy, which do not address the specific requirements of the calls defined under this sub-programme can be submitted to the calls under the Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation sub-programme.

The sub-programme will aim at facilitating the transition toward an energy-efficient, renewable energy-based, climate-neutral and -resilient economy by funding coordination and support actions across Europe. These actions aim at breaking market barriers that hamper the socio-economic transition to sustainable energy, typically engaging multiple small and medium-size stakeholders, multiple actors including local and regional public authorities and non-profit organisations, and involving consumers.

The sub-programme will contribute to the implementation of the energy-related actions of the European Green Deal, including the ‘Renovation wave’ initiative for the building sector and will give due consideration to territories not connected to the European grids such as the EU outermost regions. It will contribute to the Just Transition objectives by accompanying the territories and the groups of citizens negatively affected by the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, by building capacity of actors and fostering clean energy investments, mainly in energy efficiency and locally available, sustainable, renewable energy sources. Activities related to technology development will not be included.

A significant part of this budget will be used to finance Coordination and Support Actions (CSA) under OAs grants for the four year period, whereas the possibility to finance SAPs is only foreseen as from 2023.

It will cover the following areas of intervention:

  • Building a national, regional and local policy framework supporting the clean energy transition:

Increasing coherence of energy transition governance at different levels by enhancing multi-stakeholder dialogue and building the capacity of public authorities to deliver under the national energy and climate plans and/or other plans and strategies (e.g. just transition plans, long-term renovation strategies, strategies for the electrification of the transport system). Supporting the development and effective implementation of clean energy policies, including the relevant Union legislation on products and energy consumers, in the EU and third countries. Supporting actions that put into practice the enabling provisions included in the European legislation on clean energy.

  • Accelerating technology roll-out, digitalisation, new services and business models and enhancement of the related professional skills on the market for the clean energy transition:

Providing support for the decarbonisation of the buildings, industry and tertiary sectors, by fostering market uptake of innovative solutions, including digitalization and circular design in line with the climate neutrality target. Accelerating the clean energy transition by enabling the development of new added-value services and innovative business models. The roll-out of technologies and innovative solutions needs to be accompanied by measures addressing market barriers including support to the development and deployment of new skills and frameworks (labels, certificates, technological and non-technological standards, e.g. for interoperability, etc.).

  • Attracting private finance for sustainable energy:

To upscale investments in sustainable energy, different capital flows need to be made available by addressing both supply and demand of finance, and by using public funds effectively. Supply side activities include: data collection, methodology and evidence-based risk management; harmonisation of definition and measuring of sustainable investments; development of innovative financing mechanisms, products, services and practices; standardisation and aggregation of projects and investments; simplification of the process for investors; capacity building and dialogue. Activities should contribute to EU policy and legislation in the field of sustainable finance.

  • Supporting the development of local and regional investment projects:

Build capacity of local public authorities and private investors, notably community collective investors. Facilitate dialogue with the financial sector to deliver sustainable energy investments, including tailored actions contributing to a fair society and to a just energy transition in EU regions most dependent on fossil fuels or carbon intensive processes. Promote public procurement of energy and resource efficient works, supplies and services. Support tailored approaches for local actors to develop investment concepts, implement organisational innovations and aggregate projects. Improve market conditions and develop new integrated services offers for sustainable energy in buildings, transport, ports, and SMEs.

  • Involving and empowering citizens in the clean energy transition:

Support citizens in taking an active role in the clean energy transition, including targeted support for collective actions, community and citizen-led initiatives and development of new energy services and social innovations. Strengthen collaboration between local authorities and citizen-led initiatives. Support actions that contribute to alleviate energy poverty. Foster energy literacy and sustainable energy behaviour of citizens, in particular younger generations.

Link Link to Programme
Call
Mainstreaming sustainable energy finance and integrating energy performance in EU sustainable finance criteria and standards
Description of call
"Mainstreaming sustainable energy finance and integrating energy performance in EU sustainable finance criteria and standards"

Objective:

The topic aims to make sustainable energy investments more attractive to private investors and to align them with the EU’s sustainable finance policy.

Significant additional investment needs to be mobilised to achieve the ambition set by the European Green Deal [COM(2019) 640 final] and EU policy in the area of energy and climate. The magnitude of the investment requires mobilising both public and private sector, and sustaining the flow of investment over time.

While significant public sector expenditure leverages private finance for sustainable energy (e.g. through the InvestEU facility), many private investors still lack sufficient incentives and methods to overcome the perceived complexity and risks associated with this kind of projects. Sustainable energy investments, understood primarily as investments in energy efficiency and small-scale renewable energy sources, need further de-risking and mainstreaming into the operational and strategic approaches of market actors, in particular private finance institutions.

Growing evidence of multiple benefits triggered by sustainable energy projects (e.g. increased comfort, better health, higher value of real estate assets, resilience to extreme weather) impacts financial returns of private investors. This influence is not yet fully taken into account however and should be accelerated so that all costs and benefits of sustainable energy investment are duly reflected in private finance strategies at scale.

The EU’s sustainable finance strategy [https://ec.europa.eu/info/business-economy-euro/banking-and-finance/sustainable-finance/overview-sustainable-finance_en#action-plan] and the associated regulations, in particular the EU taxonomy regulation [Regulation (EU) 2020/852] aim to embed sustainability into the corporate governance frameworks, as many companies still focus too much on short-term financial performance compared to their long-term development and sustainability aspects. Changing this focus can significantly impact the scale and ambition of sustainable energy investments, especially in the buildings sector.

The uptake of the approaches enshrined in the EU taxonomy regulation by private and public actors, is key to accelerate and upscale sustainable energy investments. A proper implementation of the auxiliary policy and legislation, such as the proposal for a Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive [COM(2021) 189 final], the EU green bond standard [https://ec.europa.eu/info/business-economy-euro/banking-and-finance/sustainable-finance/eu-green-bond-standard_en] and labels for retail investment products, are also important building blocks of this process.

All of the above challenges are risk management related and rely on the availability and adequate uses of high-quality, interoperable data, in line with the vision of the European data space [European strategy for data, COM(2020) 66 final]. Digital and financial technologies offer catalytic opportunities to harness data to accelerate sustainable investment and involve citizens by connecting retail and capital ends of the market.

In this context, adequate tools and methodologies are needed to attract private finance to sustainable energy investment, with a particular focus on the energy efficiency segment. Some of them exist already and need to be fine-tuned and expanded. There is also a need to encourage alignment with the regulatory requirements and policies both on the finance supply and demand side. Such alignment could in turn foster a massive upscale of retail investment in sustainable energy and securitisation of sustainable energy assets needed to close the investment gap and meet the EU policy targets in the area of climate action and sustainable development.

Scope:

Proposals should address at least one of the 2 scopes detailed below.

Scope A:

Proposals should mainstream and de-risk sustainable energy investments with a particular focus on private finance stakeholders, through actions including but not limited to:

  • support to securitisation of assets linked to sustainable energy with a particular focus on energy efficiency, e.g. through Green Bonds issuance
  • integration of long-termism and sustainability risks, including transition risks, and multiple benefits of sustainable energy into decision-making tools (e.g. internal risk models) of private investors in line with the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals
  • exploring the impact of revised risk ratings and requirements for energy efficiency on financial regulations including the current banking and insurance prudential frameworks
  • harmonisation, aggregation, and mainstreaming of existing market practices through de-risking private investments in sustainable energy as well as simplification of the investment process for investors
  • activities focusing on data such as data collected through the Energy Performance Certificates, energy audits, smart meters, contracts with finance and/or energy service providers, as well as ex ante and ex post energy and financial performance data of investment, connected wherever possible to the De-risking Energy Efficiency Platform (DEEP) [https://deep.eefig.eu/]:
    • high quality data collection and/or analysis leading to refinement of investor risk models or access to specific financing schemes
    • improvement of quality and interoperability of data including through standardisation of measurement units
    • facilitation of high quality data collection and reporting for project developers
    • creation of data governance frameworks leading to improvement of availability of relevant data including open access solutions
  • incorporation of energy related sustainability preferences and/or increasing access to financial markets by retail investors
  • development and application of digital solutions including financial technology and algorithms facilitating energy-performance-based financing schemes

Scope B:

The proposed actions should focus on alignment or overachievement of the EU sustainable finance requirements in the field of sustainable energy investment through actions including but not limited to:

  • development and support to implementation of labelling and certification schemes including methodologies and tools for any one or more of the following: benchmarking, tagging, monitoring of investment performance, and disclosure of investment data set out in the EU sustainable finance legislation
  • measures accelerating compliance or overachievement of the EU sustainable finance requirements by private investors and/or companies including support to sustainable energy project developers’ response to private investors’ needs and practices with a focus on technical and regulatory considerations (e.g. development of closer connections between technical standards and accounting and disclosure reporting)
  • enhancement of transparent and regular integration of sustainable energy-related metrics in the market for sustainability assessment tools in view of the variety of ratings, research, scenario-analysis and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) benchmarks that are offered by specialized agencies
  • targeted support to sustainable energy finance related activities by regulatory bodies and the supervisory authorities
  • support to sustainable investment portfolio analysis based on granular and reliable data in order to increase transparency of sustainable energy investment strategies and markets

For both scopes A and B:

The proposed actions should:

  • involve private finance stakeholders, with a focus on institutional investors with a clear benefit to retail investors
  • have strong potential for being taken up by market actors and avoid risks of unnecessary multiplication of already existing tools and practices
  • contribute to the already existing practices or fill potential identified gaps with new approaches, e.g. in line with the EEFIG recommendations and findings
  • be embedded in the most up-to-date contexts relevant to private finance investment. Notably, the proposed actions should demonstrate how they contribute to the implementation of the EU sustainable finance policy and legislation
  • ensure that all sustainable energy investment triggered by the project is aligned or goes beyond the latest technical screening criteria developed in the frames of the EU Taxonomy regulation
  • for actions focusing on data and digital solutions, demonstrate how they build on the existing relevant initiatives such De-risking Energy Efficiency Platform (DEEP) [https://deep.eefig.eu/]

Expected Impact:

Proposals are expected to demonstrate, depending on the scope addressed, the impacts listed below.

For scope A:

  • Investments in sustainable energy triggered by the project (cumulative, in million Euro)
  • Evolution of investment practices of private financial institutions leading to improved financing of energy efficiency and renewable energy investments
  • Improved access to data supporting increased investments in energy efficiency
  • Number of institutional investors reflecting multiple-benefits of energy efficiency investment in their market strategies
  • Number of companies or financial institutions who embedded the minimum technical criteria for sustainable investment set out in EU taxonomy or went beyond them in their activities
  • Number of stakeholders using new or harmonised schemes, methods or data leading to increased flows of private finance to sustainable energy
  • Number of market actors, in particular financial institutions, who integrated energy efficiency and sustainable energy specificities into their usual practices
  • Primary energy savings/renewable energy generation triggered by the project (in GWh/year), particularly in the building sector

For scope B:

  • Improved integration of the specificities of energy efficiency and small-scale renewables within the sustainable finance strategies and investment practices of financial institutions
  • Number of entities who embedded the minimum technical criteria for sustainable energy investment set out in EU taxonomy or went beyond them in their activities
  • Number of stakeholders using new or harmonised schemes or methods leading to increased flows of private finance to sustainable energy
  • Number of market actors, in particular financial institutions, who integrated sustainable energy specificities into their usual practices
  • Number of retail investors benefiting from new market practices
  • Support to financial regulatory bodies and the supervisory authorities on energy efficiency and renewable energy specific policies
  • Investments in sustainable energy triggered by the project (cumulative, in million Euro)
  • Primary energy savings/Renewable energy generation triggered by the project (in GWh/year), particularly in the building sector
Link Link to Call
Thematic Focus Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, Green Technologies & Green Deal, Climate, Climate Change, Environment & Biodiversity, Circular Economy, Sustainability, Natural Resources, Clustering, Development Cooperation, Economic Cooperation, Capacity Building, Cooperation Networks, Institutional Cooperation
Funding area EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Albania / Shqipëria
Iceland / Ísland
Israel / ישראל / إسرائيل
Turkey / Türkiye
Ukraine / Україна Oukraïna
Origin of Applicant EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Albania / Shqipëria
Iceland / Ísland
Israel / ישראל / إسرائيل
Turkey / Türkiye
Ukraine / Україна Oukraïna
Eligible applicants Federal State / Region / City / Municipality / Local Authority, Research Institution, Lobby Group / Professional Association / Trade Union, International Organization, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees), Education and Training Centres, Microenterprises (fewer than 10 employees), NGO / NPO, Public Services, Other, National Government, Start Up Company, University, Enterprise (more than 250 employees or not defined), Association
Applicant details

In order to be eligible, the applicants (beneficiaries and affiliated entities) must:

  • be legal entities (public or private bodies)
  • be established in one of the eligible countries, i.e.:
    • EU Member States (including overseas countries and territories (OCTs))
    • non-EU countries:
      • listed EEA countries and countries associated to the LIFE Programme (participating countries) or countries which are in ongoing negotiations for an association agreement and where the agreement enters into force before grant signature
  • the coordinator must be established in an eligible country
Project Partner Yes
Project Partner Details

Proposals must be submitted by at least 3 applicants (beneficiaries; not affiliated entities) from 3 different eligible countries.

Entities from other countries are exceptionally eligible, if the granting authority considers their participation essential for the implementation of the action (see work programme).

Natural persons are NOT eligible (with the exception of self-employed persons, i.e. sole traders, where the company does not have legal personality separate from that of the natural person).

International organisations are eligible. The rules on eligible countries do not apply to them.

Entities which do not have legal personality under their national law may exceptionally participate, provided that their representatives have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf, and offer guarantees for the protection of the EU financial interests equivalent to that offered by legal persons34.

EU bodies (with the exception of the European Commission Joint Research Centre) can NOT be part of the consortium.

Entities composed of members may participate as ‘sole beneficiaries’ or ‘beneficiaries without legal personality’. Please note that if the action will be implemented by the members, they should also participate (either as beneficiaries or as affiliated entities, otherwise their costs will NOT be eligible).

Beneficiaries from countries with ongoing negotiations may participate in the call and can sign grants if the negotiations are concluded before grant signature (with retroactive effect, if provided in the agreement).

Special rules apply for certain entities (e.g. entities subject to EU restrictive measures under Article 29 of the Treaty on the European Union (TEU) and Article 215 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) and entities covered by Commission Guidelines No 2013/C 205/0537). Such entities are not eligible to participate in any capacity, including as beneficiaries, affiliated entities, associated partners, subcontractors or recipients of financial support to third parties (if any).

Call opens 13.07.2021
Call closes 12.01.2022
Further info

Proposal page limits and layout:

Proposals must be complete and contain all the requested information and all required annexes and supporting documents:

  • Application Form Part A — contains administrative information about the participants (future coordinator, beneficiaries and affiliated entities) and the summarised budget for the project (to be filled in directly online)
  • Application Form Part B — contains the technical description of the project (to be downloaded from the Portal Submission System, completed and then assembled and re-uploaded)
  • Part C (to be filled in directly online) containing additional project data
  • mandatory annexes and supporting documents (to be uploaded):
    • detailed budget table (mandatory excel template available in the Submission System)
    • participant information (mandatory template available in the Submission System)
  • optional annexes: letters of support

Page limit - Part B: 70 pages

Type of Funding Grants
Financial details

Topic budget: EUR 5,500,000.00

Funding rate for Coordination and Support Actions: up to 95%
Submission Proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funding & Tenders Portal Electronic Submission System. Paper submissions are NOT possible.
Contact Details https://cinea.ec.europa.eu/life/about-life/life-contacts_en

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