Q&A: Solar Industry prepares for EU Innovation Fund launch

Ahead of the 3rd large-scale Innovation Fund launch in Autumn, which includes a REPowerEU thematic window on clean energy manufacturing, SolarPower Europe hosted a workshop with DG CLIMA and the renewables community. This follows an input paper from SolarPower Europe, published last week, on how to best maximise the potential of the Innovation Fund for renewable manufacturing.

Along with representatives from European renewable associations, and the European Commission, over 120 industry stakeholders gathered online and in SolarPower Europe’s offices’ to discuss application guidance for the EU Innovation Fund in preparation of the next Large-Scale Call due this Autumn. 

In light of the European Commission’s REPowerEU and EU Solar Strategy announcements, as well as the refocusing of renewables as energy security, conversations covered how the Innovation Fund could best support the level of domestic renewable manufacturing, and innovative renewable project deployment, needed to meet sovereignty and climate goals.

The workshop also included a preview of projects from SolarPower Europe members, Meyer Burger and Amarenco, who presented upscaled domestic manufacturing plans for cutting-edge PV, and an innovative solar + storage + digitalisation pilot system.

“As we work to redevelop European solar manufacturing, we must play to our strengths, and Europe has a key card to play in global innovation leadership. The Innovation Fund is a key tool to de-risk projects and bring European manufacturing projects to competitive, gigawatt-scale that are urgently needed to reach our security and climate goals"

Naomi Chevillard, Head of Regulatory Affairs at SolarPower Europe
SolarPower Europe input paper on the Innovation Fund

read here

1) What is the Innovation Fund?

The Innovation Fund is an EU funding programme from 2020-2030 of up to €38 billion, dependent on carbon prices . The programme is financed through carbon emissions trading, and awards grants to innovative low-carbon technologies in energy intensive industries. It includes calls for two project types:

  • small-scale (CAPEX between €2.5 and €7.5 million)
  • large-scale projects (CAPEX >7.5 million)
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2) Can the solar industry benefit from the Innovation Fund?

Absolutely. In April 2022, Enel Green Power, a member of SolarPower Europe, was awarded a grant of almost €118 million under the EU’s first Innovation Fund call for large-scale projects. The Fund will support the TANGO  (iTaliAN pv Giga factOry) project to expand Enel Green Power’s production capacity at its 3SUN plant from 200 MW to 3 GW. 

The first small-scale call (SSC) also provided €3.7 million for an innovative BIPV mounting systems project , and €7.4 million for an innovative combined solar + irrigation project . Additionally, a number of projects in both the SSC and LSC deploy solar technology.

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3) What is new in this latest call?

Under REPowerEU plans to include new dedicated chapters for clean energy manufacturing and pilot projects, the amount of funding available for the third large-scale fund has doubled to €3bn.
 

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4) How can solar manufacturers access the Innovation Fund?

The 3rd call for large-scale projects will open in November 2022, and will close in March 2023.

The 3rd call for small-scale projects launched in March 2022, and will close in late August 2022. You can apply here.

SolarPower Europe is actively supporting its members in exploring domestic manufacturing opportunities through the Innovation Fund and other EU funding programmes. 

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5) How can the potential of the Innovation Fund be maximised for renewable technologies?

The Innovation Fund should include a dedicated budget for PV manufacturing and renewable technologies to ensure that it supports the most important no-regret investments needed for the energy transition.

Manufacturing projects integrating along the European value chain should be rewarded in the evaluation.

The Fund should cover closer to 100% of project costs to further de-risk projects.

Updates to the Fund should ensure full compatibility with other national and European funding tools to cover the full amount of expenses and reduce the administrative burden on businesses.
 

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Header image: Enel Green Power 3SUN plant in Catania, Italy © Enel Green Power

 

Questions? Get in touch.

Bethany Meban
Senior Press and Communications Advisor

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