The European Commission has awarded more than €1.2 billion (£976m) in subsidies to help kick-start 23 innovative renewable energy projects.
The projects will be co-financed with revenues from the sale of allowances to emit carbon dioxide in a special reserve under the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). The announcement covers 200 million emission allowances sold last year and this year.
The EU ETS cap-and-trade system is designed to reduce pollution by making businesses pay for producing too many greenhouse gas emissions.
The projects, which include bioenergy, solar, geothermal, wind, ocean energy and renewable management, are expected to increase annual renewable energy production in Europe by around 10 TWh, equivalent to the fuel consumption of more than one million cars per year.
Connie Hedegaard, Climate Action Commissioner said: “This year Christmas has come early – today’s decision is a major milestone in EU climate policy. The NER300 programme is in effect a ‘Robin Hood’ mechanism that makes polluters pay for large-scale demonstration of new low-carbon technologies. The €1.2 billion of grants – paid by the polluters – will leverage a further €2 billion of private investment in the 23 selected low-carbon demonstration projects. This will help the EU keep its frontrunner position on renewables and create jobs here and now, in the EU.”
Two tidal projects in the UK will receive some of the funding, which was welcomed by Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker.
He said: “European funding for Scottish Power Renewables and Marine Current Turbines’ tidal projects is great news for the UK’s marine energy sector and further underpins the UK’s position as a world leader in this source of clean green power.
“This new investment is a fantastic opportunity for these projects to demonstrate the future potential of marine energy and I am delighted that two UK firms have the chance to take advantage of this funding and drive forward further development of tidal technologies.”
NER300 funding will provide up to 50% of the costs of the project whilst private investment and additional national funding will cover the rest. It will be made available on an annual basis based on proven performance, which is the amount of green energy produced.