EU Innovation Fund is key to support the transition to zeroemission waterborne transport

300 participants attended the infoday regarding the EU Innovation Fund for the waterborne transport sector, showcasing the importance of support for the transition to zero-emission waterborne transport

1 February 2024  CLIA Europe, ECSA, ESPO, FEPORT, SEA Europe and WaterborneTP jointly organised the EU Innovation Fund infoday for the waterborne transport sector, co-organised by the European Commission. Approximately 300 participants from the broader waterborne transport sector (private and public stakeholders) attended the infoday, showcasing the commitment of the sector to engage and set sail for deploying solutions for societal challenges, while highlighting the need for financial support for the uptake of clean fuels and for the deployment of innovations to progress as fast as possible on the net-zero pathway.

The Innovation Fund uses revenues generated by the EU Emissions Trading System to invest in Europe’s green transition. 20 Million EU Emission Trading System (ETS) allowances have been earmarked under the new EU ETS Directive for the maritime sector. These allowances correspond to 1.5 to 2 billion EUR under the current carbon price. Although waterborne transport projects were already eligible, the most recent call for proposals in the framework of the EU Innovation Fund includes specificities of the sector, taking into account the fact that maritime transport contributes to the EU ETS from 1 January 2024 onwards. The Innovation Fund focuses on highly innovative technologies and flagship projects within Europe that can achieve significant emission reductions. The aim is sharing the risk with project promoters and putting the spotlight on highly innovative projects with clear European added value.

In the waterborne transport domain, support can be provided to various clean technologies that contribute to the decarbonisation of the sector. These include energy efficiency, sustainable fuels and energy sources as well as infrastructure. Various examples of new projects were presented by different stakeholders during the infoday.

Whilst the sector is acknowledging the importance of the EU Innovation Fund, there is still a need to further finetune the Fund for future calls and the upcoming dedicated maritime calls, to ensure the specificities of the sector are properly addressed. The event provided a unique opportunity to discuss also these items as well, ranging from calculation methods and assessment of the award criteria that must be targeted to the specificities of the sector to the need to ensure access to the funding instruments for small and medium-sized enterprises and the importance of a comprehensive network approach in deploying the innovative solutions.

Christophe Tytgat, Secretary General, SEA Europe, added: “Today’s highly attended infoday highlighted the remarkable interest of the maritime sector towards the current and forthcoming calls under the Innovation Fund. The growing recognition of maritime project specificities within the Innovation Fund framework marks a significant stride forward. However, SEA Europe is now looking to propel progress even further by contemplating the establishment of a dedicated maritime envelope or fund. Such an approach will foster competition exclusively among maritime project proposals and so, aims to amplify opportunities and streamline advancements within the maritime industry.”


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