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EU funding programmes and funds 2021-2027

EU funding programmes and funds 2021-2027

This part of the Hydrogen Public Funding Compass provides information on EU programmes and funds that can help stakeholders finance their renewable or low-carbon hydrogen activities.

The EU budget supports the large-scale deployment of renewable and low-carbon hydrogen along the EU value chain – for the EU to meet the increased climate ambition of 55% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 in comparison to 1990 levels, and climate neutrality by 2050.

The large number of EU funding instruments that can support hydrogen projects means that EU financing is available for a wide variety of hydrogen activities, ranging from the production of renewable and low-carbon hydrogen to its transmission and distribution, and application in industry and for mobility purposes, among others. Individual projects can obtain funding from several EU funding instruments in combination, provided that there is no double funding of the same costs.

How to use it?

For each EU programme or fund, the EU funding compass highlights objectives and key features, and provides links under which additional information can be consulted (background documents, legal framework, funding portal, national contact points etc.). EU programmes and funds are evolving. This guide will therefore be updated regularly.

How does it work in practice?

Step 1: Identify the relevant programmes and funds

Find the most relevant EU programmes and funds for your project by stating

  • who you are
  • what type of activity you seek funding for
  • which kind of funding you are looking for

Step 2: Check out the main parameters of the programmes and funds identified 

Access information on the main elements of the most relevant programmes and funds, including

  • the objectives of the programme or fund
  • the type of funding offered
  •  the type of hydrogen activities eligible for funding
  • financing details
  • available example of projects that have been funded in the past

Step 3: Explore programmes and funds of most interest in more detail

Go to the specific website of individual programmes and funds to find more detailed information, open calls and partners. Get access to the latest developments on annual work programmes or calls for proposals and technical details for each programme or fund.

Innovation Fund

Innovation Fund

The Innovation Fund is one of the world’s largest funding programmes for demonstration of innovative low-carbon technologies. It is not a research programme, it is about bringing highly innovative technologies to the market (commercial demonstration projects). The fund finances the demonstration projects on innovative production and use of low carbon and renewable hydrogen at pre-/commercial scale.

LIFE

LIFE

The LIFE programme 2021-2027 is the only EU funding programme entirely dedicated to environmental, climate and energy objectives. The Clean Energy Transition sub-programme is a new component of the LIFE programme, which was previously included in Horizon 2020. It is of particular relevance to hydrogen related projects, since it is suited to early-phase demonstration of projects and governance projects, as well as projects acting as a catalyst for large scale deployment of technical and policy solutions. On the other hand, LIFE is not meant to support large infrastructure construction.

Horizon Europe

Horizon Europe

Horizon Europe is the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation, running from 2021 to 2027. It provides support to researchers and innovators to drive systemic changes to ensure green, healthy and resilient EU. 35% of its expenditure will support Europe’s climate objectives. Pillar II and III of Horizon Europe are of specific interest for deployment of low carbon industry applications and breakthrough technologies, including hydrogen. It is important to keep in mind that projects generally involve a research & innovation element, due to the objective of Horizon Europe.

Modernisation Fund

Modernisation Fund

The Modernisation Fund is a dedicated funding programme to support 10 lower-income EU countries in their transition to climate neutrality by helping to modernise their energy systems and improve energy efficiency. It includes support investments in energy storage, generation and use of renewable sources and modernisation of energy networks, including pipelines, grids and district heating, as well as just transition in carbon dependent regions.

European Regional Development Fund, Cohesion Fund and REACT-EU

European Regional Development Fund, Cohesion Fund and REACT-EU

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF), are part of the EU Cohesion Policy funds. Taken together, the Cohesion Policy funds represent almost one third of the total Multiannual Financial Framework budget for 2021 -2027, with ERDF being the biggest chunk. Although hydrogen is not specifically mentioned in the objectives or the key priorities of the funds, ERDF and CF have specific targets respectively of 30% and 37% to support innovation and entrepreneurship in the transition to a climate neutral economy. REACT-EU is providing additional funds to ERDF through regional and national cohesion policy programmes.

Just Transition Fund

Just Transition Fund

The Just Transition Fund (JTF) is part of the EU Cohesion Policy funds. It aims to reduce the social and economic costs resulting from the transition to the EU’s 2030 climate target, to make sure that no region is left behind. JTF focuses on the regions that are most affected by the transition given their dependence on fossil fuels and that have less capacity to finance the necessary investments. Hydrogen projects could be considered under certain conditions, to the extent they are part of the sectors and the types of operations envisaged in eligible territories, since the fund provides targeted support to territories identified by EU countries.

Recovery and Resilience Facility

Recovery and Resilience Facility

The Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) is the centrepiece of Europe’s recovery plan, the NextGenerationEU. It aims to make European economies and societies more sustainable. EU countries are responsible for developing national Recovery and Resilience Plans (RRPs), containing investments and reforms to address the key challenges identified in the European Semester framework, and to support the green and digital transition. To the extent included in the RRPs, hydrogen projects covering the whole value chain of renewable and low carbon hydrogen could be financed.

InvestEU

InvestEU

InvestEU provides a budgetary guarantee fund that facilitates access to finance for risker projects that  are  commercially viable and leverage private investments. It brings together, under one roof, the many different EU-level financial instruments implemented in the recent past. It steers 4 main policy areas: sustainable infrastructure; research, innovation and digitalisation; SMEs and social investment skills, across the EU. Investment in clean hydrogen are eligible as part of the main policy priority under the InvestEU fund, in particular under the Sustainable Infrastructure window. EU countries can transfer to InvestEU their Recovery and Resilience, and the European Fund for Strategic Investment resources, therefore triggering additional funding.

Connecting Europe Facility - Energy

Connecting Europe Facility - Energy

The Connecting Europe Facility – Energy (CEF-E) is a key EU funding instrument for targeted infrastructure investment at European level. It supports the implementation of the Regulation on Trans-European Networks for Energy (TEN-E), a policy framework focused on linking the energy infrastructure of EU countries. The Commission’s proposal to revise the TEN-E regulation envisages to support the roll-out of cross-border hydrogen infrastructures, certain types of electrolysers, and smart gas grids as Project of Common Interest (PCIs). The PCI status is a pre-requisite for any CEF-E funding.

Connecting Europe Facility - Transport

Connecting Europe Facility – Transport

The Connecting Europe Facility for Transport (CEF-T) is the funding instrument that is meant to realize the European transport infrastructure policy. The instrument contributes to the implementation of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) framework by financing key projects to upgrade infrastructure and remove existing bottlenecks whilst also promoting sustainable and innovative mobility solutions. CEF-T focuses on mobility infrastructure investments. It envisages to support the roll-out of hydrogen refuelling infrastructures for all modes of transport (road, rail, maritime, inland waterways, and air).