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Supporting the clean energy transition of European businesses


19 september 2024





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Engaging businesses in the clean energy transition and reducing their domestic footprint is central for the European Green Deal and to deliver on the Fit-for-55 package and the REPowerEU Plan to phase-out EU dependence on Russian fossil fuel imports. It is also important for the Green Deal Industrial Plan[1] and the overall competitiveness of the EU economy. Energy policy instruments such as the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED)[2] and the Renewable Energy Directive (RED)[3] recognise the role that businesses, especially small and medium-sized, can have at local and national level in accelerating the transition.

As highlighted in the Green Deal Industrial Plan, the achievement of climate-neutrality by 2050 will require a full mobilisation and deeper cooperation among all players operating across the different value chains of Europe’s net-zero industry. Exposure to energy prices, increased global competition as well as potential transition risks linked to changing regulation, market demand and buyers/suppliers procurement criteria are increasing pressure on EU companies. New business models and support schemes are needed to be able to achieve strategic EU objectives of energy efficiency and renewable energy production. The REPowerEU Plan strengthens the need to act fast.

Energy management systems and energy audits are instruments that the European Commission is encouraging Member States to roll out in the framework of the recast of the EED. Recommendations of high-quality energy audits can both generate energy savings in the short period and contribute to the competitiveness of the EU economy by optimising energy use for industrial, manufacturing and commercial purposes. Energy audit recommendations can also increase the self-generation and self-consumption of renewable energy e.g. with solar panels and heat pumps, amongst companies. Enabling factors such as physical proximity and value chain relations can also encourage businesses to engage in energy related collaborations and invest in energy efficiency or renewable energy.

The overall objective of this topic is to support the clean energy transition and decarbonisation of businesses by strengthening national ecosystems for energy management systems and energy audits as well as by fostering collaborative approaches between companies operating either in the same value chain or in physical proximity. Synergies with relevant EU projects[3] and initiatives such as the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) are encouraged.


Proposals are expected to focus on one of the two scopes below. The scope addressed should be specified in the proposal’s introduction. In case a proposal addresses elements of more than one scope, this should be justified.

Scope A: Green Leap Forward for businesses

Under the EED recast, energy management systems will become a default obligation for the energy-intensive enterprises, including SMEs, that exceed 85TJ of average annual energy consumption over the past 3 years. Otherwise, they will be subject to an energy audit if their average annual energy consumption exceeds 10TJ over the past three years. The implementation of energy audit recommendations is not mandatory, however they shall result in a concrete and feasible Action Plan, provided by the enterprise and transmitted to the management of the enterprise.

Applicants under this scope shall strengthen collaboration between Member States on energy audits and energy management systems, with a view to facilitating a harmonised approach and the implementation of cost-effective energy efficiency measures.

Proposals are expected to primarily define a common approach for the identification of enterprises falling under the scope of Article 11 of the EED recast based on their energy consumption. They shall investigate and propose solutions on how to approach businesses near the thresholds and those falling in different thresholds over the last three years before the energy audit obligation.

Applicants shall propose measures that can encourage businesses with an average annual consumption between 10TJ and 85TJ of energy towards an energy management system, and businesses with an average annual consumption of less than 10TJ of energy to undergo an energy audit and implement at least one highly cost-effective recommendation.

Furthermore, applicants shall develop a template for the Action Plan resulting from the energy audit. The Action Plan shall identify measures to implement each audit recommendation, including the potentials for the cost-effective use or production of renewable energy. In addition to energy savings and estimated costs, the template shall include a clear methodology for quantifying and valorising the non-energy benefits triggered by the implementation of the recommended measures. In this regard, applicants shall facilitate the uptake of such template and methodology in relevant international and European standards as well as national policy frameworks by involving relevant stakeholders, such as standardisation bodies and national authorities responsible for the implementation of Article 11 of the EED recast.

Digitalisation, eco-labelling of businesses, follow-up systems for checks on the implementation of measures, benchmarking mechanisms between companies and exploitability of energy data could also be addressed.

Scope B: Fostering energy cooperation among companies

Proposals under this scope should foster the market uptake of energy efficiency measures and the use of renewable energy (and heat pumps where relevant), through the establishment of collaborative approaches among companies. Applicants can focus on developing collaborative approaches, namely between large and small companies operating in the same value chain, or on energy cooperation among companies in physical proximity (region, cluster, industrial park/site).

Energy cooperation and collaborative approaches refers to, for example, companies working in the same value chain and holding business relations. The value chains addressed can operate at any level (from local to European, and international when relevant). It can also refer to companies in physical proximity (region, cluster, industrial park/site) sharing energy related assets (e.g. renewable energy generation, energy networks, energy storage), sharing energy services, implementing energy exchanges (e.g. recovery and use of waste heat from industrial and manufacturing processes) or being involved in energy communities. Clustering of companies can also facilitate better access to finance, ESCO contracts and power purchase agreements (e.g. aggregators).

Proposals are expected to carry out activities aiming at triggering interest, awareness, knowledge and know-how on the multiple benefits achievable from collaborative approaches. Some examples of these benefits are operating costs reduction, mitigation of energy-related risks, easier access to finance or stronger value proposition (e.g. more environmental friendly products/services). Proposals should also work on removing barriers that hinder energy cooperation, e.g. organisational (coordination, trust, responsibilities, data management, risk sharing), legal or social.

Furthermore, proposals should facilitate the establishment of concrete cooperation initiatives, including but not limited to identifying, investigating and validating economically viable business models (based on concrete interaction with participating companies), proving the relevance of a collaborative approach in terms of value creation for each involved actor (e.g. buyers/suppliers/final users) as well as in addressing the untapped potential of energy efficiency and renewables at each step of the process (e.g. upstream to downstream in the case of value chains).

The proposed activities should be focused on engaging businesses in energy cooperation activities; the involvement of additional relevant stakeholders (e.g. industrial organisations, multipliers, financial players, ESCOs, public authorities) should be envisaged to ensure the success and the sustainability of the developed collaborative approach.

The proposed approaches should demonstrate a high degree of replicability and proposals should include a clear action plan to communicate experiences, critical success factors and results towards relevant energy cooperation actors and stakeholders across the EU.

Additionally, benchmarking and monitoring mechanisms, focusing on the energy use at value chain, or at cluster or industrial park/site level, could be developed to support the formulation of policy/regulatory recommendations aiming at speeding up the clean energy transition of the business sector towards the EU’s 2030 and 2050 climate and energy objectives.

For all Scopes, proposals must be submitted by at least 3 applicants (beneficiaries; not affiliated entities) from 3 different eligible countries.

For all Scopes, the Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 1.75 million would allow the specific objectives under Scopes A and B to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.Expected Impact:

Proposals should present the concrete results which will be delivered by the activities, and demonstrate how these results will contribute to the topic-specific impacts. This demonstration should include a detailed analysis of the starting point and a set of well-substantiated assumptions, and establish clear causality links between the results and the expected impacts.

Proposals submitted under this topic should demonstrate how they will contribute to, depending on the scope:

Proposals should quantify their results and impacts using the indicators provided for the topic, when they are relevant for the proposed activities. They should also propose indicators which are specific to the proposed activities. Proposals are not expected to address all the listed impacts and indicators. The results and impacts should be quantified for the end of the project and for 5 years after the end of the project.

The indicators for this topic include:

Proposals should also quantify their impacts related to the following common indicators for the LIFE Clean Energy Transition subprogramme:


LIFE is het financiële instrument van de EU ter ondersteuning van milieu natuurbehoud en klimaatprojecten in de hele EU. De specifieke doelstellingen van het programma zijn in de eerste plaats hulp bij de overgang naar een economie die duurzaam, circulair en energie-efficiënt is, gebaseerd is op hernieuwbare energiebronnen en bestand is tegen klimaatverandering. Ten tweede het milieu beschermen, verbeteren en vernieuwen. Ten slotte wil het LIFE-programma het netwerk van Natura 2000-gebieden beheren om het verlies aan biodiversiteit een halt toe te roepen en om te buigen en de achteruitgang van het milieu te voorkomen. Uitvoerende organisatie is The European Climate, Environment and Infrastructure Executive Agency (CINEA).

Het nieuwe LIFE instrument bestaat uit vier sub programma’s :

1. Natuur en biodiversiteit

Natuur en biodiversiteit (subprogramma milieu) financiert beste praktijk-, pilot- en demonstratieprojecten die bijdragen aan de implementatie van de richtlijnen vogel- en habitatrichtlijnen en de biodiversiteitsstrategie 2030 en voor de ontwikkeling, uitvoering en het beheer van het Natura 2000-netwerk.

2. Circulaire economie 

Het doel van dit subprogramma is om de overgang te vergemakkelijken naar een economie die duurzaam, circulair, vrij van gifstoffen, energie-efficiënt en bestand tegen klimaatverandering is. Het gaat hierbij om projecten op het gebied van milieu en circulaire economie, zoals recycling en hergebruik van hulpbronnen uit afval, water, lucht, bodem en chemicaliën. De belangrijkste focus van dit subprogramma ligt op het verstrekken van subsidies voor standaardacties (Standard Action Projects, SAP). 

3. Klimaatmitigatie en -adaptatie

Klimaatmitigatie verwijst naar inspanningen om klimaatverandering tegen te gaan, terwijl klimaatadaptatie inhoudt dat je je aanpast aan het veranderende klimaat, zoals je voorbereiden op overstromingen of droogte. Dit omvat het verminderen van CO2-uitstoot, het bevorderen van duurzame klimaatverandering en het vergroten van het bewustzijn over het tegengaan van klimaatverandering.

4. Clean energy transition

Dit laatste subprogramma is gericht op de overgang naar een energie-efficiënte, op hernieuwbare energie gebaseerde, klimaatneutrale en -veerkrachtige economie te vergemakkelijken door coördinatie- en ondersteuningsacties in heel Europa te financieren. Deze acties, met een hoge toegevoegde waarde voor de EU, zijn erop gericht de marktbelemmeringen die de sociaaleconomische overgang naar duurzame energie belemmeren, te doorbreken, waarbij doorgaans meerdere kleine en middelgrote belanghebbenden, waaronder lokale en regionale overheden en organisaties zonder winstoogmerk, worden betrokken en waarbij de consument wordt betrokken.


Standard Action Projects (SAP)  max. 60% met uitzondering van:

67% voor projecten gericht op zowel prioritaire als niet-prioritaire habitats en/of soorten(Nature & Biodiversity).

75% voor projecten die uitsluitend gericht zijn op prioritaire habitats en/of soorten (Nature & Biodiversity).

Strategic Nature Projects (SNAP) max. 60%

Uitvoering van samenhangende actieprogramma’s in de lidstaten met het oog op de integratie van deze doelstellingen en prioriteiten in andere beleids- en financieringsinstrumenten, onder meer door gecoördineerde uitvoering van de prioritaire actiekaders. 

Strategic Integrated Projects (SIP) max. 60%

Uitvoering, op regionale, multiregionale, nationale of transnationale schaal, van milieu- of klimaatstrategieën of actieplannen van de autoriteiten van de lidstaten en vereist door specifieke milieu-, of klimaat- of relevante energiewetgeving of -beleid van de Unie, waarbij ervoor wordt gezorgd de belanghebbenden erbij te betrekken en de coördinatie met en mobilisering van ten minste één andere EU, nationale of particuliere financieringsbron.

Technical Assistance Projects (TA)

Voor TA-projecten voor de voorbereiding van SNAP’s en SIP’s (TA-PP) en voor de herhaling en opschaling van resultaten en (TA-R) max. 60%

Een uitzondering wordt gemaakt voor de projecten voor capaciteitsopbouw (TA-CAP) ter verbetering van de daadwerkelijke deelneming aan het LIFE-programma van max. 95%.

Other Action Grants (OAG) max. 95%

Behalve voor de kleine subsidies voor biodiversiteit in de OR’s en de OCT’s die de voortzetting vormen van het BEST-programma, met max. 100%.

Operating Grants (OG) max. 70%

LIFE creëert naast de traditionele projecten twee financiële instrumenten. Deze worden beheerd door de Europese Investeringsbank EIB:

Om van deze specifieke instrumenten gebruik te maken, dient men zich rechtstreeks te wenden tot de EIB: PF4EE_Instrument@eib.org of NCF_Instrument@eib.org.


Ondernemers, kennisinstellingen, burgers en overheid samenbrengen, voor heel EU

Alleen Europese partners nodig bij het subprogramma Transitie naar schone energie (3 partners uit 3 lidstaten).


Budget 2021-2027: 5,4 miljard euro. 

60% van het budget is voorzien voor biodiversiteit.

Info & Aanvraag

Via de EU-portal Funding and Tenders opportunities.

LIFE is  in direct beheer. Dit betekent dat de implementatie van de financiering – van het opstellen van calls tot evaluatie en financiële afwikkeling – rechtstreeks door de Europese Commissie of door een Europees uitvoerend agentschap wordt gedaan.

Website: LIFE (Programma voor het milieu en klimaatactie)