What is a cross-border project in the field of renewable energy?
In order to meet the EU decarbonisation targets, the EU Member States committed to collectively achieve a share of renewable energy in the EU’s final energy consumption by 2030. This share is 42.5% binding target and additional 2.5% aspirational target according to the revised Renewable Energy Directive. The EU reported a 21.8% share of renewable energy across the Union in 2021 and further scale-up of renewable energy generation capacity is crucial to meet both the decarbonisation objectives and the phase out of dependency on Russian fossil fuels. To do so, apart from purely domestic actions, each Member State may choose to cooperate with other countries within the EU or beyond. Such cooperation mechanisms, as set up in the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II), can take the form of joint projects, joint support schemes, or statistical transfers. The revised Renewable Energy Directive also increases the requirements by Member State to explore the cooperation mechanisms by introducing an obligation to establish a framework for cooperation on joint projects by 2025.
The new Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) programme provides an enabling framework of financial support to foster EU Member State cooperation in the field of renewable energy and introduces the concept of cross-border projects in the field of renewable energy (CB RES project).
In order for a project based on cooperation between Member States to become a CB RES project and to benefit from the enabling framework of CEF, it should fulfil the criteria set out in Part IV of the Annex to the CEF Regulation. These criteria refer to the existence of cooperation arrangement, as well as cost savings and potential overall net benefits that the project would provide.
The Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2022/342 further specifies the selection criteria and selection process. The related Commission Staff Working SWD (2021) 429 provides with the methodology for assessing the contribution of a given CB RES project, and also the general criteria to elaborate the CB RES Cost Benefit Analysis.
What type of projects do we expect?
A CB RES project shall have three fundamental characteristics:
1. It must be based on a Cooperation mechanism as per Articles 8, 9, 11 and 13 of the RED II Directive;
2. It must provide higher socio-economical net benefits, compared to a national project, which is confirmed through a cost-benefit analysis.
3. Its main component must be a renewable energy generation installation.
Each element is further developed below.
A CB RES project shall be based on a Cooperation mechanism signed by two or more Member States (MS) or by Member State(s) and third Country(ies). When submitting the application, projects should submit either the signed Cooperation Agreement or the signed declarations from the participating MS expressing their support to the project and their willingness to sign a Cooperation Agreement.
As for the expected content to be included in the Cooperation Agreement, Commission Staff Working SWD (2021) 429contains some elements under paragraph 3 page 8. Not all those elements have to be included in the agreement / declarations as it depends on the level of maturity of the project.
If a cooperation agreement is not signed at the moment of application, the applicant may provide a letter of support instead. There is no mandatory form, however applicants are free to use a template provided in Annex 3. It is important that the letter of support contains clear information (1) that Member States support the application of that specific project for CB RES status; (2) that Member States are willing to engage in a cooperation agreement in the future.
As one of the cooperation mechanisms from the Renewable Energy Directive is statistical transfer, which is a virtual transfer of renewable energy statistics, it is worth noting that CB RES projects do not necessarily entail a physical link between the cooperating Member States or another physical transaction such as transfer of electricity. The CB RES project can be located on the territory of one or more of the Member States involved, provided that they comply with the general criteria of Part IV of the Annex to the CEF regulation. Note that specific conditions apply for third countries, as per art. 11 and 12 of the Renewable Energy Directive.
Cost benefit analysis
The CB RES project shall perform a cost-benefit analysis (CBA), which evaluates the potential overall benefits of cooperation that outweigh its costs, compared to a counterfactual, taking into account seven indicators as per CEF regulation annex part IV. The methodology to be applied to calculate the CBA along the seven elements is further developed in the Commission Staff Working SWD (2021) 429.
The project CBA shall be compared to a counterfactual CBA, the latter being a similar hypothetical project that would take place without the cooperation mechanism.
Applicants need to explain and justify their assumptions and choices made when drafting their CBA.
When developing their CBA, proposals can deviate from the above-mentioned methodology when this is pertinent. Deviations from the methodology must be justified in the proposal, including when they relate by the specific characteristics and circumstances that are specific to the submitted proposals.
In particular, the counterfactual project would in the standard case take place in the Contributing country (see FAQ n.5 for the definition of “contributing country”). Deviations from this approach are allowed, provided that they are properly justified in the context of the proposal.
RES generation and other components
A CB RES project shall contribute to the generation of renewable energy from technologies such as on- and offshore wind, solar energy, sustainable biomass, ocean energy, geothermal energy or combinations thereof, their connection to the grid and additional elements such as storage or conversion facilities.
All the RES technologies listed under article 2 of the RED II Directive are eligible. Projects can focus on one specific RES technology or can contain a mix of several technologies.
It is worth noting that CB RES projects are not limited to the electricity sector and can cover other energy carriers and potential sectors coupling with, for example, heating and cooling, power-to-gas, storage and transport. This list is non-exhaustive.
In addition to the facilities that produce renewable energy, CB RES projects can contain also non RES generation components, provided that they are in line with the provisions listed in Article 3(b)-(f) of the Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2022/342. These components aim at effectively facilitating the integration, i.e. without them the operation of the project will utilise the renewable energy potential in sub-optimal manner. These components need to be integral part of the project, i.e. they are not artificially added to the renewables generation, but fit well the project concept and build a comprehensive project set-up together with the other components. These components also need to be ancillary to the renewable generation, i.e. the main purpose of the CB RES project should be generation and utilization of renewable energy, and the non-renewables component are serving this main purpose.
In view of the criteria for eligibility in Article 3 of the Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2022/342, the following components are considered as not eligible for CB RES status:
- Electricity transmission infrastructure;
- Electricity interconnector lines;
- Hydrogen infrastructure for transport and storage;
- Infrastructures for transport, reception, storage and regasification for liquefied or embedded hydrogen (e.g. ammonia, e-methanol, etc) and related (safety) equipments.
- Storage facilities directly connected to high-voltage transmission and medium-voltage distribution lines.
In view of these criteria for eligibility, the following non-RES generation components may be eligible for CB RES status, provided that the application of these projects justifies their compliance with Article 3 of the Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2022/342:
- The grid connection of an onshore RES generation installation;
- Storage facilities that are connected to the RES production facility, increase the flexibility and improve the profile of the RES generation;
- Electrolysers that are directly connected to RES generation facility and are used for conversion of renewable electricity into hydrogen.
Finally, any CB RES RES project entailing the production of renewables liquid and gaseous transports fuels of non-biological origin shall be in line with the RFNBOs Commission delegated regulation (EU) 2023/1184
What is the CB RES status?
Any project meeting the regulatory criteria explained above may obtain the status of cross-border renewable energy project (CB RES status) and therefore enter a list of projects eligible for CEF funding (CB RES list).
Having the official CB RES status is a requirement to be eligible for financial support under the CEF Programme, and it could provide further benefits such as higher visibility, increased investor certainty, and stronger support from Member States.
As specified in the Commission Delegated Regulation, the new CEF window complements other EU renewable energy funding opportunities, focusing specifically on cross-border cooperation to optimise national efforts for deployment of renewable energy.
All projects with the CB RES status are on a list of eligible projects (the CB RES list) and may therefore apply for dedicated calls for CEF grants for technical studies and works.
Being selected in the CB RES list does not guarantee CEF funding. Once part of a CB RES list, projects may participate to CEF CB RES calls for technical studies and works and apply for CEF funding.
For more information on how a CEF technical studies and works call would look like in case your project is selected for the CB RES list, please see the previous CEF CB RES studies and works call. An example of a past call can be found following this link.
How to apply?
The third call for projects looking to obtain the CB RES status is open from the 07 November 2023 and closes on the 06 February 2024 5 pm CET (Brussels time).
Promoters of candidate projects for the CB RES status can participate in the call by submitting an application via the dedicated CB RES submission platform.
Project promoters should ensure that they have an EU LOGIN account in order to apply via the CB RES submission platform. To create an account in EU LOGIN, you need to provide basics information and have a valid email address. Please follow these instructions to create your EU LOGIN.
What are the next steps?
This assessment will be based on a methodology described in the Commission staff working document.
CINEA supports the management of the assessment of the applications on behalf of the European Commission.
Candidate projects meeting the requirements of the CEF Regulation, its Delegated Regulation and the related Commission staff working document, will be proposed for award of the CB RES status, and therefore the inclusion on the CB RES List.
The CB RES list is expected to be adopted by the European Commission by July/August 2024 and published in the Official Journal in October 2024. It is also expected that the next available call for proposals under CEF Energy for CB RES eligible projects will open contextually with the entry into force of the new CB RES list.
- Renewable energy directive (EU) 2018/2001 (RED II)
- CEF Regulation (EU) 2021/1153
- EC Delegated regulation (EU) 2022/342
- EC Staff working document SWD(2021) 429
Mandatory Annexes for the submission of proposals:
- ANNEX 1 CB RES CBA TOOL
- ANNEX 2 CB RES AF annex and CBA report
- ANNEX 4 Sustainability and DNSH compliance file
The application form and all annexes shall be uploaded via the CB RES submission platform.
Please note that together with the mandatory templates reported above, applicants need to upload in the CB RES submission platform the following document:
- Signed Cooperation Agreement (no specific template) OR
- ANNEX 3 Written declaration of the participating countries (in case of absence of a signed Cooperation Agreement or in case the latter does not make explicit reference to the CB RES project)
Check the FAQs document related to the call for the CB RES status.
Information about the policy goals and latest developments is available on the European Commission DG ENER renewable energy webpage.
For questions concerning the CB RES list selection process, contact:
CINEA-CEF-RENEWABLESec [dot] europa [dot] eu (CINEA-CEF-RENEWABLES[at]ec[dot]europa[dot]eu)
ENER-CEFRENEWABLESec [dot] europa [dot] eu (ENER-CEFRENEWABLES[at]ec[dot]europa[dot]eu)