New programme update: expected changes to priority 2

28 September 2021 - Published by Femke Boersma

We would like to provide you with an update to the new North Sea Programme (2021-2027). Priority 2 will see two additional specific objectives. This is a result of initial feedback from the European Commission on the draft Operational Programme. After agreement by the Programme Preparation Group on the changes proposed by the Commission, Specific Objective 2.1 will be split in three specific objectives.

What is changing?

The content of the original Specific Objective 2.1 (promoting energy efficiency measures) will be split across three priority specific objectives. It is important to note that there are no changes expected to the content; rather, the addition of Specific Objectives 2.2 and 2.3 will allow more focus on the issues specific to their domain.

The official titles of the first three specific objectives under Priority 2 will be:

2.1: Promoting energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions

2.2: Promoting renewable energy in accordance with Directive (EU) 2018/2001, including the sustainability criteria set out therein

2.3: Developing smart energy systems, grids and storage outside the Trans-European Energy Network (TEN-E)

Energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Under SO 2.1, the programme will support transnational projects that contribute to the reduction of overall energy use and long-term greenhouse gas emissions savings across the North Sea region. Projects under this specific objective can aim for energy efficiency and long-term greenhouse gas reduction in traditionally green sectors or across all sectors in the North Sea region where there is potential for energy savings.

Renewable energy

The aim of SO 2.2 is to develop new approaches or scale-up existing approaches that can promote renewable energy and, in the long-term, contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions. The region should maintain momentum by spreading awareness of practical steps that can already be taken and promoting the take up of innovative technologies and processes. Funded actions are expected to facilitate knowledge exchange on innovative renewable energy solutions in order to support the development, piloting and adoption of technologies and processes across the North Sea region.

Smart energy systems, storage and grids

The focus of SO 2.3 is the acceleration of the transition towards a more integrated energy system across the North Sea Region. Future power supply and distribution networks need to be more flexible, and the programme will support testing of new methods to deliver this flexibility, e.g. by coupling the power supply with smart grids to improve the match between supply and demand at different times to avoid surges and blackouts.

The focus of projects under all three specific objectives (indeed, all specific objectives in the programme) will be on implementation, and especially pilots and demonstrations that test solutions.

Unchanged priority specific objectives of priority 2

Due to this split of the original Specific Objective 2.1 (Promoting energy efficiency measures), the numbering of the remaining specific objectives changes:

2.4: Promoting the transition to a circular and resource efficient economy

2.5: Promoting sustainable multimodal urban mobility, as part of transition to a net zero carbon economy

There are currently no further changes foreseen to these priority specific objectives. You can find more information in the Sneak Preview event that was held on June 28. You can watch the recording here. 

What is next?

The draft Operational Programme is now going through internal consultations in each of the countries participating in the programme (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, and the Netherlands). This means that national authorities in each of the countries are reviewing the draft and will give their feedback before a final draft is signed and sent to the European Commission for approval. You can find more information about the timeline here

If your project idea overlaps two or more priority specific objectives, you must choose the one under which your project's aims and activities is the closest fit. However, you can highlight in your application how your project also touches or contributes to other objectives supported by the programme

We have updated the brochure to reflect these changes. You can find it here.


//Photo Brett Sayles, Pexels