The European Commission has this week launched the European 'smart specialisation platform on energy' to help EU member states use the EC's Cohesion Policy funding more effectively for the promotion of sustainable energy and deployment of low-carbon technologies.
The European Smart Specialisation Platform on Energy (S3P-Energy) is a joint initiative of the Directorates-General for Regional and Urban Policy, Energy and Joint Research Centre (JRC).
According to the European Commission’s website, the platform is envisioned to be an enabling tool for EU member states providing information, knowledge and expertise on investing in energy projects, in line with needs of policy makers, authorities and stakeholders in charge of energy and research.
It adds the platform will also develop ways of matching Member State and regions with similar interests and planned investments in energy innovation.
The S3P-Energy platform will support the optimal use of Cohesion Policy funds for sustainable energy projects.
Cohesion Policy funds are available for energy efficiency, renewable energy, smart grid and energy infrastructure projects – which will feed into the EU’s Energy Union strategy launched in early 2015.
The primary objective of the S3P-Energy is to support the effective uptake of the Cohesion Policy funds for energy, in a bid to better align energy innovation activities at national, local and regional level - by identifying technologies and solutions that support the EU energy policy priorities in the most cost-effective way.
Maximizing funding for energy efficiency
The Cohesion Fund allocates a total of EUR 63.4 billion under various categories including trans-European transport networks and projects related to energy as long as they clearly benefit the environment in terms of energy efficiency, use of clean energy, developing rail transport, supporting intermodality, strengthening public transport.
For the 2014-2020 period, the Cohesion Fund concerns Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
The European Union plans to invest around EUR 38 billion in the period of 2014-2020 in the framework of its Cohesion Policy including EUR 2 billion for investments in smart grids.
Corina Creţu, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, said: "For 2014-2020, more than EUR 38 billion of Cohesion Policy funding will be invested in achieving the Energy Union Strategy and boosting the shift towards a low-carbon economy in all sectors.
“This represents more than a doubling of funding compared to the previous period. Cohesion Policy funding offers many opportunities, but it also poses important challenges for the regions in terms of implementing EU co-funded energy projects.
"That is why I welcome the new Platform on Energy which will pool joint know-how on sustainable energy and will help regions in making efficient use of the funding available to invest in innovative solutions.”