ELENA supports the launch of sustainable urban investments

Published on: 19 May 2021 | Last edited on: 9 March 2022

The European ELENA instrument aims to mobilise large investments that contribute to the European sustainability goals for urban environments. The financial support can be up to 90% of the investment preparation costs. This article takes a closer look at the possibilities, the objectives and the main conditions.

Large-scale investments in an urban environment

ELENA stands for European Local ENergy Assistance. It is an initiative of the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Commission. The objective of the instrument is to ‘mobilise’ investments that contribute to the European energy and climate objectives in urban settings. To this end, ELENA subsidizes up to 90% of the costs of preparing large investment projects. This may also be a combination of several smaller (related) investment initiatives. 

Target group and eligible preparation costs

An ELENA grant for investment preparation costs is available to both public and private applicants. The grant for preparation costs can be applied for by one of the investing parties itself, but also by other involved parties (see also below).

Preparation costs that may be eligible for ELENA support include:

  • technical studies and feasibility studies;
  • simulations and models;
  • business plans and financial advisory;
  • legal advice;
  • tendering procedure preparation;
  • project bundling;
  • project management;
  • drafting of a ‘Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan’.

Which sectors may apply for ELENA?

ELENA provides support for investments in three sectors. These are:

  • Urban transport and mobility: this concerns a wide range of investments that contribute to energy-efficient transport in and around urban areas. Such as zero-emission vehicles, charging infrastructure for alternative fuels, intelligent systems, ‘soft mobility’ and mobility that does not involve motorised transport.
  • Energy efficiency: investments in energy efficiency and renewability in buildings. Examples include energy efficiency measures, building-integrated renewables (e.g. PV), public lighting, district heating or ‘smart grids’.
  • Sustainable residential: investments in energy efficiency and renewability by housing corporations and homeowner associations. Such as thermal insulation, energy-efficient heating or ventilation systems, efficient lighting, PV, solar thermal collectors or heat pumps.

Main conditions

The ELENA grant is provided under certain conditions, most notably:

  • ELENA typically focuses on mobilizing investments of at least €30 million. This amount can also be achieved by mobilizing several smaller investments.
  • The preparation grant should be proportional to the targeted investments. Depending on the sector, the investment should be about 10 to 20 times greater than the subsidy.
  • The preparation period may have a duration of up to 4 years for transport investments, or up to 3 years for investments within the other sectors.
  • The actual investments must also be made within this period (this refers to entering into the investment commitments).
  • In selecting projects, the contribution to scaling up innovations (technologies, processes, products, policies, organizational models, practices) is taken into account, among other things.

Applications can be submitted on an ongoing basis.

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