Apart from direct support for project promoters, the Advisory Hub also engages in more “horizontal” initiatives, often in collaboration with the European Commission. It also supports other sector-specific mandates by providing complementary or reinforcing assistance. We also work with local partners to strengthen our local presence and ability to help smaller promoters and their projects. What follows is an example of some of these.
In spite of great progress in the reduction of road deaths and injuries, there are still too many accidents, causing not only human suffering but also negatively impacting the economy. The Advisory Hub was approached by the Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport of the European Commission (DG Move) to establish a one-stop shop for road safety investment advisory, called the Safer Transport Platform.
The Safer Transport Platform—Road Safety Advisory offers guidance to the public and private sectors. We help promoters identify sources of funding for their projects, such as grants from European Union programmes, including the European Structural and Investment Funds and the Connecting Europe Facility.
Project promoters can access many advisory services to improve the quality of their projects. From feasibility studies and the development of project concepts, to improved bankability and increased eligibility to receive European Union funding, our support is a game changer for road safety.
EIB experts, funded by the Advisory Hub, are helping many clients get support from the ELENA programme. ELENA, which stands for European Local Energy Assistance, provides grants for technical assistance in energy efficiency and urban transport, primarily for cities and regional projects.
Applicants who need help preparing proposals for ELENA grants can request guidance from the EIB experts, who will give a helping hand to prepare a sound application. This increases the applicants’ chances of eventually receiving the ELENA grant.
Most projects relate to energy efficiency in public and private buildings. In 2020, 17 ELENA grant contracts were signed, worth €35.2 million and supporting over €1 billion in underlying investment.
RESIDENTIAL REFURBISHMENT IN HELSINKI, FINLAND
An ELENA grant helped Heka, the municipal housing company of Helsinki, improve the condition of its rental housing. Heka manages the city’s rental property and is financed by the state. A €1.83 million technical assistance grant will help the company renovate nearly 170 residential buildings containing around 4 200 apartments. The additional support provided by the ELENA grant will make a stronger business case for investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy, ensuring that the refurbishment of these buildings is more sustainable. The total investment in this project is expected to be around €70 million. The renovations, encompassing building envelope, heat recovery systems and solar panels, should cut energy use by about 40%.
A glazier working on an energy-efficient, triple-gazed window.
ENERGY-EFFICIENT AND SUSTAINABLE HOMES FOR ZUID-HOLLAND
As part of a national effort to phase out natural gas, the Province of Zuid-Holland will help nine local authorities offer cleaner heating in residential areas. The existing gas heating will be replaced with low-temperature, renewable energy heating networks. An ELENA grant of €2.7 million will support the complex coordination, stakeholder engagement, feasibility studies and procurement for the project. The total investment is estimated at nearly €94 million. In addition to helping 3 600 homes become energy- efficient, the grant will help install 28 km of district heating networks.
Security threats are rapidly evolving, complex and often cross-border in nature. These threats can be handled more effectively with a unified response to investments in security projects. The EIB responded by setting up the European Security Initiative at the end of 2017. The Bank defined three focus areas under this initiative: research, development and innovation for civilian and defence-related activities; cyber security; and civilian security.
To help identify projects for the initiative, the Advisory Hub established a benchmarking system to ensure a common definitional approach to parts of projects related to security. Bank experts developed a method to identify security-related investments for each sector and project type, and show how these projects’ elements might qualify for the initiative and be eligible for support under other relevant EU programmes.
With the help of EIB experts mobilised by the Advisory Hub, project promoters will be able to more consistently report the security components of projects, and their costs, defining the best way to measure returns on security investments across different sectors.
URBIS is an urban investment advisory platform established within the Advisory Hub. A joint initiative by the European Commission, the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy, and the European Investment Bank, it was launched in 2017 to provide a more holistic advisory service to cities, recognising their very diverse sectoral and project cycle needs, and the importance of integrated territorial development.
Despite the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on municipal investment priorities, by the end of 2020 URBIS had received around 45 eligible requests for support from municipal authorities in some 20 Member States. So far, 15 of these have already been completed. URBIS has helped large and small cities with projects in areas such as energy efficiency, the circular economy, urban mobility, smart cities, social housing and urban regeneration.
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