1. About the European City Facility (EUCF)

1.1 What is the EUCF?

Municipalities, local authorities and local public entities aggregating municipalities/ local authorities play a key role in Europe’s transition towards sustainable energy. They have tremendous potential to build comprehensive sustainable energy investment programmes (i.e. investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy). Moreover, they can encourage the pooling of smaller projects into larger investment portfolios and mobilise the significant financial resources required for the energy transition.

Although the potential is immense, there are fundamental barriers. In many cases, there is a lack of credible, robust and sufficiently mature investment concepts. However, such concepts, which should include the identification of potential project pipelines, legal analysis, governance analysis, basic financing strategy, and roadmaps for implementation, are a prerequisite to accessing different sources of funding.

In this context, a new pan-EUCF, set up under the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation of the European Union, provides tailor-made, rapid and simplified financial support (grants of EUR 60,000) and capacity building services to municipalities, local authorities, their groupings and local public entities aggregating municipalities/local authorities in Europe that will enable them to develop sound investment concepts (hereafter referred to as IC) and mobilise finance in the field of sustainable energy

The EUCF addresses two fundamental barriers for sustainable energy investments:

  • Lack of financial and legal capacity of municipalities/local authorities to transform their long-term energy and climate strategies (e.g. SEAPs, SECAPs etc.) into appropriate investment concepts.

  • Lack of aggregation of fragmented smaller projects (for example in the building sector) and thus lack of attractiveness for the financial sector.

The resulting investment concepts will represent an initial step towards a fully-fledged business and financial plan and as such facilitate the subsequent mobilisation of (local) investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy. Sources of funding may come from the private sector, but also from other EU-funded instruments, such as the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), various Project Development Assistance (PDA) facilities, such as the European Local Energy Assistance (ELENA) facility of the European Investment Bank (EIB), or various national investment platforms.

 

1.2 Who can apply for the EUCF?

Municipalities and local authorities, groupings of municipalities/ local authorities, as well as local public entities aggregating municipalities/ local authorities located in the European Union Member States (EU-27) , EEA-EFTA States of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway,  and the UK are able to apply to receive the EUCF support.

1.3 How does the EUCF support municipalities, local authorities, their groupings and local public entities aggregating municipalities/ local authorities?

The EUCF helps municipalities and local authorities, their groupings  and local public entities aggregating municipalities/ local authorities  to implement their energy and climate action plans by providing technical and financial support for the preparation of the Investment Concept (IC), which will enable municipalities and local authorities, their groupings  and local public entities aggregating municipalities/ local authorities  to mobilise financial resources. For detailed information on the EUCF journey, please refer to “Guidelines for Applicants” which are available on the EUCF website.

1.4 What kind of financial support do I receive from the EUCF?

Successful applicants receive financial support in the form of a EUR 60,000 grant for the development of the investment concept.

1.5 Which types of investments projects does the EUCF support?

The EUCF provides support for investment projects within the field of sustainable energy, including all investments on the energy demand side, which contribute to the improvement of energy performance and the achievement of energy savings. Among the investment sectors targeted by the EUCF are public, residential buildings and tertiary (non-municipal) buildings, efficiency improvements in equipment/ facilities, development and use of building integrated renewables, district heating modernisation or fuel switch to renewables, smart grids, sustainable urban mobility (e.g. public transport, charging stations, etc.), and innovative energy infrastructure (e.g. citizen energy communities, innovative approaches to public lighting, wastewater treatment plants, etc.). Nevertheless, it is also possible to implement projects in further sectors, as long as they are in the field of sustainable energy.

1.6 Which types of investment projects are excluded from the EUCF ?

The EUCF is aligned with the European Commission’s European Green Deal, 2030 climate & energy framework, 2050 long-term strategy and the EIB’s new energy lending policy. Thus, the EUCF has a clear position not to support investments in energy projects reliant on unabated fossil fuels, such as the production of oil and natural gas, traditional gas infrastructure, power generation technologies resulting in GHG emissions above 250 gCO2 per kWh of electricity generated, and large-scale heat production infrastructure based on unabated oil, natural gas, coal or peat.

1.7 Are there any Case studies or examples of potential investment projects?

Yes, there are some case studies available on the EUCF webiste in the “Knowledge Hub” section, under Support menu to provide some ideas about the potential measures relevant to the municipal energy efficiency projects.

1.8 What is the policy framework for eligible projects to be supported by the EUCF?

In 2019, the EU completed a comprehensive update of its energy policy framework to facilitate the transition away from fossil fuels towards cleaner energy and to deliver on the EU’s Paris Agreement commitments for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  The key EU-wide 2030 climate and energy targets include a binding 40% cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, at least 32% share for renewable energy and at least 32.5% improvement in energy efficiency. The EU aims to be climate-neutral by 2050 – an economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

The main policies supporting agreed EU policy framework is The Green Deal – a roadmap for making the EU's economy sustainable by turning climate and environmental challenges into opportunities. The roadmap includes mainly actions to boost the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy and restore biodiversity and cut pollution.

It is anticipated that many potential investment projects developed under the EUCF will be financed by the European Investment Bank that is why the EIB energy lending policy is also very relevant. The EUCF has a clear position not to support investments in energy projects reliant on unabated fossil fuels, such as the production of oil and natural gas, traditional gas infrastructure, power generation technologies resulting in GHG emissions above 250 gCO2 per kWh of electricity generated, and large-scale heat production infrastructure based on unabated oil, natural gas, coal or peat.

The main supported projects are in the field of energy efficiency (e.g. in buildings and public lighting), energy supply (e.g. generation of power and heat from renewable energy sources), innovation and new types of energy infrastructure (e.g. electrification of transport) and enabling infrastructure (e.g. smart meters, upgrade of district heating and cooling infrastructure).

1.9 If a municipality has generally the financial means for their projects, is it possible to apply in order to reduce the cost for the development of the project and foster exchange and expertise? (copy 1)

Yes, the applicant might need technical expertise e.g. if internal capacities are missing, for the development of the Investment Concept, that can be paid through the EUCF.

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1.10 What technical and capacity building support does the EUCF provide?

The EUCF provides municipalities/ local authorities , their groupings and local public entities aggreagating municipalities/ local authorities  with different types of technical support activities along their journey within the EUCF:

  • National webinars, Info sessions and regional capacity building events: Before the opening of each call for applications, the EUCF organises, in cooperation with the national city networks and Country Experts, info sessions in each country to provide interested municipalities and local authorities, their groupings and local public entities aggregating municipalities/ local authorities with more information on the EUCF. Moreover, regional capacity building events, such as peer-to-peer learning opportunities and Communities of Practice, as well as webinars are planned throughout the EUCF journey to support beneficiaries in the development of the investment concept.

  • Support from Country Experts: Country Experts assist beneficiaries of the EUCF in the application process and with technical and financial expertise in national language during the development process of the investment concept. Country Experts do not develop investment concepts themselves. For each EU-27 Member State, in each of the EEA-EFTA States of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, and the UK, an expert has been assigned, which can be contacted by the municipalities/local authorities and local public entities aggregating municipalities/local authorities  of the respective country directly through the EUCF website user zone or email for questions, clarifications and other requests.

 

  • Support from the EUCF Helpdesk: Along the entire EUCF journey, the EUCF Helpdesk plays a fundamental role in providing technical support to potential applicants and interested parties, as well as registered applicants and beneficiaries of the EUCF. The EUCF Helpdesk can be accessed through the the EUCF website and the website’s  user zone, which allows users to easily communicate with the EUCF team and obtain support in case of questions, technical issues, etc.

 

A series ofcapacity- building workshops, to which successful beneficiaries (former EUCF beneficiaries, as well as beneficiaries of other facilities, ELENA, PDA, etc.) will be invited to run peer-to-peer training workshops. Successful investment concept municipalities can train unsuccessful applicants on how to become a beneficiary but also on how to develop an investment concept.

In order to maximise the financial leverage of individual projects and to aggregate opportunities by region and technology, Matchmaking events are planned to engage with the investor network at the local/ regional level but also across Europe and EU institutions

Communities of Practice will bring together supported Investment Concepts exploring similar technologies, covering similar technologies or sectors from different parts of Europe.

Access to EU pool of experts, hands- on tools and good practice examples will foster project standardisation and aggregation.

 

For detailed information on “what technical and capacity building support does the EUCF provide”, please refer to “Guidelines for Applicants” which is available on the EUCF website.

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