Webinar: Maintaining grant funding for early TRL technologies
27 February 2018
3.00pm (Brussels, Berlin, Paris)
2.00pm (London, Dublin, Lisbon)
Peter Coyle, Chairman, MRIA
Andrew Smith, Founder, Deja Blue Consulting
Supporting R&D through grant funding is a tried and tested way of bringing innovative technologies to market. This model helps develop technologies to a point where they can generate revenue and attract investment. Public and private budgets for R&D are limited however, so it is vital that funding schemes are designed to have a maximum return on investment.
In this webinar, ocean energy finance experts analyse different funding schemes and explain why some of them are more successful than others.
- Grants support for ‘early TRLs’ must be flexible and cover substantial part of cost of projects. The request to get commercial finance for ‘early TRLs’ is unrealistic and in some cases even damaging. Pressure to move for pre-dominant commercial funding at low TRLs leads to wrong outcomes e.g. Scottish experience with Aquamarine and Pelamis. Such pressure was not observed during development of wind or solar energy.
- Typical sources of finance of OE companies at early TRLs - equity and some soft loans (primarily from friends and family) and grants. Only occasionally OE companies get some private investors who can afford a long–term perspective!
- Tailored Instruments for Low TRLs - Special funds for early TRLs which is OE sector specific (e.g. Ireland’s Prototype Development Fund, Scotland’s Renewable Energy Investment Fund). Such sector specific special funds for early TRLs, are very important at national level.
- Projects need different types of funding:
- Income support schemes (such as FiTs, CfDs, etc) to support debt,
- Equity is a bet by those with the resource and risk appetite,
- Grant is a strategic mechanism that supports progress at the right time.
- For the developing agencies is very important to agree what do to achieve? Development of the sector? Economic growth in the region? Employment? Besides authorities should consider whether grants are too large or too small? If a co-financing requirement is realistic? Are attached timelines are necessary and achievable?
- There should be a right balance between Flexibility Vs Accountability – each rule around a grant will preclude a funding opportunity. Sometimes procedures to apply for the grants are too complicated. In such cases, wrong conclusion can be drawn about the “lack” of appetite for a specific funding.
- The other type of money will find their way into the marine energy sector when the risk in the sector will match the appetite outside the sector. Majority of enterprises in the ocean energy sector is not there at the moment.
- Besides TRL we should look if there is a market for the technology. Even with the best technology private capital will not come if there is no market to apply it.
• Grants for ‘early TRLs’ must be flexible and cover substantial part of cost of project.
• Forget about commercial finance for ‘early TRLs’.
• Wider issues of scale and collaboration must be dealt with at same time. EU wide initiatives for funding and for collaboration here is needed. We need instruments that would cause companies to work together.
• Ocean energy is massive opportunity for Europe. Support from national and EU institutions is crucial to keep sector develop.
• Don’t look for a blue-print – this (development of ocean energy sector) was not done before.
• Don’t put too much rules and regulations.