Focus On - October 2011
ALEA helps Romanian Covenant of Mayors signatories meet sustainable energy targets
ALEA, the Local Energy Agency of Alba County, Romania, provides technical assistance and coordination to Romanian Covenant of Mayors signatories to prepare and implement their Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAPs), as part of the broader ‘Alba County Energy Master Plan’. ALEA was created with the financial support of Intelligent Energy – Europe.
Progress still slow for Romanian sustainable energy actions
In Alba County, and in Romania as a whole, energy consumption is constantly increasing while the use of renewable energy sources is still low. In this context, meeting the climate change objectives outlined in the EU2020 strategy is not an easy task.
The further uptake of energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, particularly at the local level, is hindered by several issues. From a technical point of view, the lack of detailed energy consumption databases and the insufficient training of technical staff pose an obstacle to organised efforts. Furthermore, limited access to funding and financing slows down the development of sustainable energy projects.
ALEA’s initiatives – a catalyst to action
Despite the challenges, the country's municipalities are determined to deliver concrete sustainable energy solutions. Thirty-one Romanian local authorities have signed the Covenant of Mayors, four of which are located in Alba County. ALEA is working closely with the local authorities to provide them with technical assistance and to coordinate their actions.
In fact, ALEA is actively involved in the implementation of the ‘Alba County Energy Master Plan’, which was adopted by the Alba County Council earlier this year in order to coordinate energy planning efforts. One of the key pillars of the Master Plan is the development and implementation of SEAPs by the county’s Covenant signatories.
ALEA has set up a simple, three-step procedure to encourage the signatories to act.
In practical terms, ALEA’s assistance is multi-faceted. The Agency identifies and mobilises the stakeholders involved in the SEAP preparation, development and implementation; it provides technical support for creating Baseline Emissions Inventories and energy consumption databases; it helps in the drafting of SEAPs; it runs information, communication and educational campaigns, and it works hand-in-hand with the cities during the implementation of their SEAP.
ALEA provides training and capacity building to Covenant signatories: a workshop on the thermal insulation of buildings (left) and an annual fair dedicated to renewable energy in Alba Iulia, attended by the president of Alba County and the deputy Mayor of Alba Iulia (right).
‘The key benefit of ALEA’s support to Covenant signatories is that it helps adapt the SEAPs to each city’s special needs and conditions, as outlined in its Energy Master Plan’, says ALEA’s Director, Mr Andronescu. ‘In addition, IEE projects, in which ALEA participates, are employed to further reinforce the signatories’ actions (e.g. ENESCOM, Energy Neighbourhoods II, CYCLELOGISTICS, etc.)’
Romanian Covenant of Mayors cities help deliver EU climate change objectives
With the focused approach and structured assistance of ALEA, the four Alba County Covenant signatories have already taken their first steps:
- Aiud prepared and submitted its SEAP in August 2010 and is now overseeing its implementation
- Alba Iulia completed its SEAP and had it approved by the Local Council in July 2011
- Zlatna and Cugir are currently in the process of drafting their SEAPs
- ALEA has signed agreements with Aiud, Alba Iulia and Zlatna, which outline in detail the next steps for the implementation of their SEAPs
In the case of Alba Iulia, the city’s SEAP is based on three pillars: the production of energy from renewable energy sources, energy savings and CO2 emissions reduction. The city aims to increase renewable energy production to almost 20,000 MWh, reduce energy consumption by 166,000 MWh and CO2 emissions by 51,000 tonnes by 2020. The graph below illustrates Alba Iulia’s targets for 2020, as outlined in its SEAP.
In order to implement the SEAP and meet its energy targets, the city has initiated a number of local-scale sustainable energy projects. A first pilot project for green energy production was completed in August 2011. Photovoltaic panels have been installed on the rooftops of municipal and other public sector buildings, providing 300 MWh of green electricity and decreasing CO2 emissions by 210 tonnes per year (see images below). Another programme, called ‘Green House’, helps 100 local households use solar collectors and biomass for space and water heating.
Photovoltaic panels installed on the roof of Dorin Pavel High School and the Day Care Centre for the Elderly, in Alba Iulia
Cities and energy agencies working together for a sustainable future
In view of 2020, the Alba County signatories still have a lot to achieve. To ensure they stay on the path to sustainable energy, ALEA has developed a plan for the coming nine years. Some of the key aims of the plan include:
- Implementing EU sustainable energy policies at the local level, with an emphasis on nearly-zero energy buildings, energy performance contracting, sustainable transport and combined heat and power generation.
- Creating an association of Covenant of Mayors signatory cities from Romania, in order to exchange experience and coordinate actions
- Gaining technical and financial support from the regional and national authorities for local energy initiatives by Covenant signatories
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