Lots of municipalities are working on their climate and energy action plans. For this, they can apply for grant support from the European City Facility (EUCF). With this grant, the municipality can further investigate and develop an ‘investment concept’ into a fully-fledged business and financing plan.

Municipal climate and energy plans

Municipalities and local authorities play a key role in the European energy transition. They often act as catalysts for large renewable energy investment programmes, for a smart ‘bundling’ of smaller projects, and for mobilising the necessary funding. At present, many municipalities have already laid down their energy and climate ambitions in plans. For example, in the form of an action plan for sustainable energy (SEAP), for sustainable energy and climate (SECAP), or similar documents.

Two major obstacles for municipalities

In practice, many municipalities encounter two obstacles. One of them is finding funding. But even more difficult is the second problem: finding suitable ‘investment concepts’. By this is meant, ideas and plans for investment projects. Because many investment concepts are too unclear, too uncertain and above all too premature. Even concepts with a clear project plan and a good foundation often raise many questions. Like: how do the plans score in terms of feasibility, impact, risks and efficiency? To be able to assess this properly, further research is needed. As long as these questions have not been investigated, it is virtually impossible to find funding.

European City Facility offers a solution

Fortunately, the European City Facility offers a solution to this stalemate. Municipalities can apply to the EUCF for a grant of 60,000 euros to investigate and develop relevant investment concepts into a fully-fledged ‘business and financing plan’. The grant is a fixed amount (lump sum) that municipalities can use for, for example, carrying out a feasibility study, risk analysis, market research, stakeholder analysis, technical research, legal or financial analyses. To be clear, the costs of the final energy investments themselves fall outside the scope of the grant.

What does EUCF mean by ‘investment concepts’?

The EUCF defines an investment concept as a document that translates an idea or plan for an investment project into ‘financial language’, in order to mobilise funding for its realisation. It thus builds a bridge between the project idea and the business/financing plan. The aim is to provide investors and financiers with the initial preliminary information they need to be able to assess the intended investment project in a quick, simple manner.

Application rounds

The EUCF grant is for municipalities and local authorities only (in all 27 EU Member States and the United Kingdom). Applications from consortia of municipalities and local authorities are encouraged. Grant applications can only be submitted within official rounds. The current application round (first call) runs until 2 October 2020. Three more rounds will follow. The expected schedule is:
– second call for applications in March/April 2021
– third call for applications in October/November 2021
– fourth call for applications in May/June 2022.

Submitted applications will be compared with each other and only the best projects will receive a grant. If desired, EGEN can provide more information on the evaluation criteria, and tips for applicants (e.g. on how to optimise the scoring and the chances of success of a proposal).

ecf news