Industrial companies with plans for an innovative pilot or demonstration project don’t want to take any chances and often need to conduct considerable research even before the start of the project. Fortunately, grants are also available for this preparatory phase and a round of grants is starting on 1 April to conduct studies in preparation for a carbon emission reduction pilot or demonstration project! The grant can amount to 500,000 euro per study (and in some cases even up to EUR 2 million euro). Interested parties must be quick though: the grants are awarded on a ‘first come first served’ basis and there’s a huge amount of interest!
Target and target group
The new round of grants is designated as ‘TSE Industry Studies’ and is part of the broad collection of the Dutch Top Sector Energy (TSE) grant programmes. This round of grants is directed towards companies in energy-intensive and chemical industries and is particularly interesting for companies focusing on pilot or demonstration projects relating to carbon reduction or certain climate investments. Both SMEs as well as larger companies can apply for the grants.
What is meant by ‘studies’?
What kinds of ‘studies’ fall under this grant? In a nutshell, these are exploratory studies into the opportunities and risks of a proposed project. Specifically, this may concern:
- a Feasibility study: a preparatory study about a pilot project’s feasibility. The proposed pilot must be a trial project testing innovative carbon emission reduction measures in practice and must also involve R&D work and experimental development.
- an Environmental study: a study to prepare a company’s ‘environmental investments’. The intended investment can relate to a new technology for a practical application (for example in the context of a DEI+ demonstration project). However, it can also involve researching the proposed environmental investments in a proven/fully developed technology (to prepare for a VEKI project, for example). The study investigates the investment plans and provides insight into the best investment options.
- a Comparable study: these studies also prepare for environmental investment in a demonstration project but they focus specifically on investments that do not fall under the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER) (such as advanced biofuels or CCU).
Programme lines: which themes can the project cover?
To apply for a grant for the above studies, plans must be in place that are a good match for this scheme’s official themes. This involves six programme lines with associated topics and challenges:
- Closing industrial chains (MMIP 6). This programme line focuses on innovations in industrial chains that also closely examine ‘residual flows’. This concerns the chemical conversion of waste streams and alternative raw materials into new products. There is a major emphasis on recycling, use of biobased raw materials, circular plastics and circular non-ferrous metals.
- A carbon-free industrial heat system (MMIP7). This theme concerns converting industry’s current energy and heat systems. The processes must be carbon-free and more efficient, economical and sustainable. This demands innovations in process efficiency, heat reuse (including heat upgrading and storage), geothermal energy, the use of climate-neutral fuels, and new system concepts for heating and cooling.
- Maximum electrification and radical innovative processes (MMIP 8). Electrification is an important theme in the process industry. The energy studies concern far-reaching electrification and not proven forms of electric propulsion, such as innovations in electrical hydrogen production or via climate neutral fuels/molecules (based on electrochemical conversion). But newly developed electrical appliances and radically new electrically driven processes can also further increase the ‘electrification’ possibilities.
- Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS). CCUS is a relatively young technology that is not yet implemented on a large scale here, which is why funding can now be requested for studies involving new, large-scale CCUS pilots or demonstration projects. This mainly concerns energy-intensive and chemical industries, greenhouse horticulture and waste incineration plant projects.
- General carbon-reducing measures. This remaining category involves pilot and demonstration project studies with a focus on carbon reducing measures in industries that do not fall within the above programme lines.
- Environmental investments in fully developed technology. This concerns environmental studies as preparation for investments and technologies where performance has been proven in one or more demonstration projects and that are now being implemented by the applicant or a partner. The planned investment must have a payback period of more than 5 years. As illustration, this component includes environmental studies in preparation for a VEKI investment project.
Example from EGEN practice
EGEN has many years’ experience in grant schemes for innovations in all kinds of industrial areas. The recent example from practice within the TSE scheme ‘Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS)’ is a good illustration of this. It involves a consortium of companies that aims to use CCS for decarbonisation of residual gases in its production process. In preparation for that project, an extensive pre-FEED must be conducted into the precise technical and economic performance of the proposed technological solutions. High external engineering costs have been budgeted for this. Preparations are currently underway to commission the pre-FEED and start the TSE project. The results will be used to prepare a subsequent DEI grant application for the follow-up phase of the project.
Grant amounts, budget application period
The grant usually involves a 50% contribution towards the project costs, which can amount to a grant of 500,000 euro per energy study. A higher grant ceiling applies to CCUS project studies: 2 million euro. The round of grants opens on 1 April 2022 (9.00 am). The budget amounts to 10.6 million euro. Applications can be submitted for as long as the budget lasts (and by no later than 31 March 2023). Please be aware that the interest is high. So don’t wait too long before submitting your application!