Projects and technologies that boost Europe’s global position in solar and energy storage were among the big winners as the EU splashed out €3.6bn ($4bn) of grants under its Innovation Fund programme.

The fund – which uses revenue from the bloc’s Emissions Trading Scheme – handed out cash to 41 projects after its latest call for funding.

The European Commission said the focus of the latest awards was on the objective of its massive RepowerEU clean energy scale-up plan and reducing reliance on Russian gas imports.

Among the big winners was solar equipment-maker Meyer Burger, which netted €200m for its HOPE (High-efficiency Onshore PV module production in Europe) project that aims to spur 3.5GW of advanced cell and module production capacity in Germany and Spain.

Meyer Burger has been vocal in its calls for extra support for EU solar manufacturing, warning that it could instead prioritise the US with its generous green subsidies for expansion.

Norsun, a Norwegian solar wafer producer, was also successful in applying for funds as it moves to increase its manufacturing base.

The EU has made a ‘reshored’ solar manufacturing sector that can operate independently of the dominant Chinese industry a key plank of its energy security strategy.

Gunter Erfurt, CEO of Meyer Burger, said: "The EU is not only contributing to the decarbonization of the energy system and the transformation of the industry. It is equally investing in the resilience of supply chains in the solar industry."

Energy storage, green hydrogen and sustainable fuels initiatives also loomed large in the funding round, including projects for novel battery materials in Norway and Finland.

“The funding will contribute to the greening of significant sectors of the European economy, in particular those that are difficult to decarbonise,” said the European Commission.