Financing future-proof local bioenergy: lessons learnt from mentoring of SME pilot projects (SecureChain)

Bioenergy (i.e., the energy produced from a range of different renewable biomass feedstocks) accounts for 61% of renewable energy consumption and 10% of the total energy mix in the EU-28 in 2015. The sector also shows an average annual growth rate of 4.83% (2000-2015), playing an important role in reaching the EU’s 2030 and 2o50 climate and energy objectives. In this context, the SecureChain project received €1.8 million of EU funding (Horizon 2020 project no. 646457) to promote market uptake of bioenergy in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The main objective was to promote a Sustainable Supply Chain Management practice, considering the entire bioenergy chain and meeting the highest environmental quality and financial viability standards and targets local biomass suppliers, energy producers and financial sector players. The project targeted SMEs in 6 model regions around Europe, where it connected to various stakeholders in the bioenergy chain: energy agencies, cluster organisations, research centres, SMEs and industry associations.

 

EScGD was part of the consortium of ten organisations involved in this project, which united excellent competence in biomass, energy systems and efficiency, sustainability, certification and green investment (see list of partners here). In particular, EScGD addressed one of the major barriers SMEs face when assessing potential bioenergy operations: the difficulty to access adequate financing. The aim was to analyse such difficulties and contribute to overcome them, by:
  • Market pre-check + Risk Assessment: undertaking targeted market feasibility surveys, pre-checks and develop a risk assessment tool to support the implementation of priority SSCM pilot projects.
  • Mentoring: guiding companies’ capital call strategies tailored to investor types and upgrade corporate finance disclosing in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
  • Roadshows: fostering lobbying actions and dialogue between financial players and bioenergy market actors to promote the portfolio of investment proposals.

The role of EScGD was to oversee the progress of the pilots’ implementation as a whole. Building on the information provided by the project’s Regional Lead Partners (RLPs), our research group deducted a continuously updated overview related to progress, synergies and common deficiencies, and directs other Secure Chain partners to appropriate actions. A total of 21 SMEs pilot projects where mentored, and results included:

  • Risk assessment tool uniting applicable knowledge about financing solutions and risk evaluation methodologies tailored to bioenergy investments, in order to validate the contents of the guideline.
  • Financial mentoring of these SMEs, with total investments triggered through the implementation of pilot projects at the end of the project amounting to 10.1 M €.
  • National and International road show events aimed at discovering in conversation with SMEs and investor representatives what are the business opportunities in bioenergy and how can investments in sustainable supply chains be facilitated.

 

More information on this work can be found here.


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