On Tuesday (10 November), the European Investment Bank (EIB) agreed a deal with French financial group Société Générale to provide €150m investment to encourage sustainable transport and environmental protection.

The agreement was arranged through a new EU guarantee mechanism under a funding scheme known as the Juncker Plan, and will support investment for technologies to improve the energy impact in the European maritime transport sector.

EIB Vice-President Violeta Bulc said: “This is a new Juncker plan financing programme, and is also the first framework agreement for making the maritime sector greener in Europe. Coming as COP22 is held in Marrakesh, it is a strong signal from the EIB in support of green and lasting growth. With the EU guarantee, the EIB is offering an attractive and tailored financing framework to support sustainable projects mounted by French shipowners. It is a first for Europe.”

Arriving two weeks after the shipping industry agreed a new global deal to introduce a cap on sulphur emissions in 2020, the agreement will come as welcome news to delegates at the COPP2 conference in Marrakech.

‘Bridging the gap’

Marrakech plays host to Oceans Action Day on Saturday, a timely event following the announcement earlier this week of a proposed EU investment fund to secure future wave and tidal energy.

roadmap produced by the ocean energy sector for the EU has identified the investment required for wave and tidal energy to provide 10% of the EU’s power demand by 2050 – the equivalent to reducing 276 million tonnes of CO2 every year.

The roadmap outlines several phases for success which would be underpinned by a €250m investment fund and a €70m insurance fund supplied by the EU and its member states. The overarching aim is to help businesses past the “valley of death” of finance by proving that current ocean energy technologies have a commercial future.

Speaking at the roadmap launch at the Ocean Energy Conference, the EU’s Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella said: “It is a comprehensive, inclusive and ambitious plan for building up ocean energy in Europe – from the initial R&D all the way to the industrial roll-out.”

The roadmap was welcomed by Ocean Energy Europe chief executive Rémi Gruet, who said: “Bridging the gap between risk-averse commercial lenders and public authorities with limited budgets requires re-thinking project finance.

“The roadmap proposes just that, solutions fit for the purpose of reducing risk and unlocking capital: milestone-bound grant awards, guarantees and insurance. These, will allow projects to hit the water, speed up learnings and get the ocean energy sector to commercial readiness.”

Carnegie haul

In related news, leading wave energy developer Carnegie Wave Energy has this week been granted £9.6m from the EU to support the first phase of its planned 15MW commercial wave hub project in Cornwall.

The project, located at the world’s largest site for the testing and development of offshore renewable energy technology, will commence immediately, with commissioning set for 2018.

Environment Minister George Eustice said: “I am delighted that Carnegie secured the £9.55m of ERDF funding and chosen to deliver its CETO wave energy project at Wave Hub. Cornwall offers a cluster of academic and industrial expertise, world class test facilities, infrastructure and resources which ensures it is well positioned to play a significant role in securing the UK’s continued reputation as a market leader in offshore renewables.”

George Ogleby

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