The European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have signed a new delegation agreement reinforcing the ELENA (European Local Energy Assistance) facility. ELENA provides grant funding to support the preparation of large-scale investment programmes in the area of energy efficiency, distributed renewables, and sustainable urban transport. The new agreement concerns a budget of €30 million, of which €20 million will support the preparation of energy efficiency and distributed renewable energy projects, and €10 million will be dedicated to sustainable urban transport and mobility projects.
Established in 2009, the ELENA facility has so far awarded around €100 million of EU support, triggering an estimated investment of around €4 billion on the ground. ELENA has already supported a variety of projects across the European Union, including:
- The deployment of a ‘one-stop-shop’ solution to initiate the energy renovation of thousands of private housing units in the north of France
- The funding and the necessary accompanying infrastructure to upgrade Barcelona’s bus fleet to low-emission buses
- The planning of investments in the heat recovery of industrial waste heat in existing district heating networks in the Netherlands.
ELENA is managed by the EIB and financed by Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation funding programme. ELENA funding is allocated on a first-come-first-served basis for the development of projects leading to investments above EUR 30 million. Past projects have received, on average, around EUR 1.8 million for project development assistance, leading to investments forty times higher. ELENA funding can cover up to 90% of eligible project development costs, which may include expenses related to feasibility and market studies; programme structuring; energy audits; financial structuring and/or preparation of tendering procedures and contractual arrangements. It does not cover costs related to the investment itself. Projects receiving an ELENA grant may also apply for an EIB loan, although this is not a prerequisite for applications to ELENA.