At the end of the month, AER member Upper Austria will be hosting the 2019 edition of the World Sustainable Energy Days. AER is a longtime partner of this event, and is excited to see this year’s exchanges between stakeholders whose collaboration will be necessary to put into action Europe’s clean energy transition.
Energy efficiency will be front and center in the program with the day-long European Energy Efficiency Conference, bookended by a Young Energy Efficiency Researchers Conference and technical site visits that will give participants a firsthand look at some concrete ways energy efficiency goals are being pursued on the ground.
As you are planning your visit to Wels, it’s the perfect time to think about what actions European funds can help you put into motion.
On 22 January, the European Commission held a Horizon 2020 Energy Efficiency Info Day. The event featured presentations of calls under the Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 3 ‘Secure, Clean and Efficient Energy’. The AER Project Unit was in attendance to hear the latest on opportunities that might interest our members and followers, and we would like to take this opportunity to share some of what we learned with you.
Calls on Cities, Regions, Energy Poverty & Socioeconomics
Last Christmas eve, the new Regulation on the Governance of the Energy Union and Climate Action the revised Energy Efficiency Directive (EU) 2018/2002 entered into force. Alongside a new energy efficiency target and energy savings obligation, the EU has also set out address energy poverty by tackling existing market, behavioural and regulatory barriers. Energy poverty has no common statutory definition, though the Commission suggests thinking of it as fundamentally the “inability to keep homes adequately warm.” Member States will be required to collect data on the problem and develop action plans if necessary. Upcoming calls from Horizon 2020 will give the opportunity for innovative projects to receive funding to help authorities carry out this and other obligations established under the new and updated European legislation.
Under the upcoming call, funds available to help public authorities bring the Energy Union into reality will increase to 10 mil €. As regional and local authorities are considered key drivers of the energy transition and hold the potential to carry out ambitious plans, the Commission will fund actions aiming at several different objectives. Projects can seek to enhance monitoring and verification by improving coordination among various administrative levels. They are also interested in projects to establish long-term plans for achieving the energy transition (think a regional energy roadmap to 2050). Programmes that connect regional authorities to one another in peer-to-peer learning schemes or seek to engage the public on the energy transition in innovative ways are also welcome.
For this call, the Commission emphasizes that only projects with a big impact and that offer a significant added value will be selected. In order for this to be the case, political commitment must be demonstrated in the application through letters of support and a detailed recruitment process. It is also advised that projects achieve synergies with other initiatives on the energy transition.
Funding will also go to projects that work to actively alleviate energy poverty, identify different types of energy poverty or build on existing initiatives such as The EU Energy Poverty Observatory (EPOV). Three kinds of actions are possible: facilitating behavior change or implementing low-cost energy efficiency measures; setting up schemes that support, financially or otherwise, energy efficiency measures; or developing, testing and disseminating innovative schemes that bring energy distributors and/or retail energy sales companies to the directive’s target for cumulative end-use energy savings.
If you’re considering applying to this call, the Commission suggests you keep a few things in mind. Read up on past projects and make sure not to replicate something that has already been done. Justify the added value of your action at the European level. Demonstrate how you would gain access to energy poor households. And substantiate the link from your proposed activities and the predicted impacts in terms of primary energy savings, investments triggered, and contributions to policy and best practice development. In terms of your reach, plan to aid at least 5000 energy-poor consumers for each € 1 million of funding.
Finance for Energy Efficiency
Without a doubt, one of the biggest challenges facing energy efficiency projects is a shortage of private investment. Paula Rey García from DG Energy noted in her introduction to the calls that we are facing a daunting investment gap relative to the goals the EU has set for 2030. Two upcoming calls aim to help address the issues underlying this scarcity.
The first of these calls is all about finding and implementing new ways of making financing available for investments in energy efficiency. Actions should seek to establish new innovative operational financing schemes, replicate previously successful solutions in a new context, establish regional aggregators, or set up regional energy efficiency investment roundtables/platforms. Projects should not come up with theoretical solutions, but rather put into action an operational schemes and structures with viable medium-to-long-term impact.
Actions funded under another call should “make Energy Efficiency investments as normal as a car loan,” in the words of Executive Agency for SMEs (EASME) Project Advisor Adrien Bullier. To this end, the Commission is funding projects that seek to establish standardisation frameworks to help assess the risk of Energy Efficiency loans (and thus facilitate refinancing). Funds will also go to projects that build the capacity of banks and investors, gather and spread large-scale data on financial performance of energy efficiency loans, integrate the consideration of non-energy benefits when energy efficiency projects are valuated, boost the share of energy efficiency investments in the portfolios of institutional investors, or explore the impact of revised risk ratings and requirements for energy efficiency on financial regulation.
When it comes to developing proposals for these finance calls, Bullier emphasised the importance of thinking about who you want to target. Projects should not propose to address investors writ large, but should focus in on specific types of investors from big institutional investors, like pension funds, to smaller, more focused funds. It is also necessary to secure the involvement of financial institutions in the project at the proposal stage. As this is often no small task, applicants are encouraged to make this objective an early priority. Finally, before diving into designing a project proposal, it is very important to take a look at the Commission’s series of Sustainable Energy Investment Forums for the countries in which your action will be implemented and demonstrate in your application that you have taken stock of the knowledge shared about the market contexts in which you intend to act.
With the demanding requirements that go along with Horizon 2020 calls, there is no time like the present to build a consortium and prepare your proposal. The calls will open in 12 March and close 3 September, and the bar to clear to be granted the considerable amounts of funding foreseen by the programme will be set high. It is thus essential to find as much information as possible about the Commission’s expectations from project proposals, get up to date on all the newest developments and good practices in the realm of energy efficiency, and approach all the partners you will need to prove that your project will involve all the necessary stakeholders and produce significant and tangible outcomes and impacts.
If you have an idea for a project and need help finding partners, reach out to the AER Project Unit. We will be happy to help you find the team you need to make your energy efficiency dreams a reality.
Agnese PantaloniPhone: +32 2 400 10 52 E-mail: a.pantaloni(at)aer.eu Skype ID: agnesepanta Languages: it, en, pt Articles by Agnese
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