Offshore wind projects may receive support from 2023 Call for Cross-Border RES (CB RES) projects opened by the European Union. So far two offshore wind projects in the Baltic Sea benefit from a newly established EU programme under Connecting Europe Facility whose objective is to foster the uptake of renewable energy by providing financial support to cross-border renewable energy projects involving cooperation between Member States and regions. The ELWIND offshore project was added to the CB RES list in 2022, and the Gulf of Riga Offshore Wind Farm project was selected to receive funding for preparatory studies under the 2021 CEF Energy call for preparatory studies for cross-border renewable energy projects.

The ELWIND, project to build one offshore wind park in Estonian and one in Latvian waters, comprising an hybrid grid connection with interconnector and transmission lines to connect the two countries, aims to pilot a cross-border hybrid project concept in the Baltic-Sea for replication in other locations and to improve the security of supply in the region. The Gulf of Riga Offshore Wind Farm project received an EU grant to conduct a study supporting the environmental impact assessment with technical data regarding turbines, foundations, connection cable lines, construction methodologies and other necessary data. Moreover, the study will update the cost estimate as well as operational expenditure estimate of the wind farm.

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. The EU reported a 22.1% share of renewable energy across the Union in 2020 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 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).

What type of projects are expected?
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.

First of all, 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.

Secondly, the CB RES project shall perform a cost-benefit analysis, which evaluates the potential overall benefits of cooperation that outweigh its costs, compared to a counterfactual, taking into account seven indicators, in line with the dedicated methodology.

Thirdly, 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.

How to apply?

The second call for projects looking to obtain the CB RES status is open from 10 January 2023 and closes on 03 May 2023.
More details can be obtained during the webinar organized by the European Committee of Regions and the Cross-Border Renewable Energy (CB RES) Programme on 13 February 2023.