Sustainable energy actions at the local level were rewarded by ManagEnergy and the European Energy Commissioner, Günther Oettinger, who presented two local energy action awards during the tenth ManagEnergy Annual Conference in Brussels.
The London Development Agency won an award for its initiative to retrofit buildings with energy-saving measures, while the North-West Croatia Regional Energy Agency won an award for its project encouraging households to install solar energy systems.
Commissioner Oettinger stated: ‘Strengthening our efforts on energy efficiency and promoting renewables is the best way forward to ensure our safe, sustainable, affordable low carbon energy future. These ManagEnergy Awards are playing a key role in this effort and I welcome the practical actions ManagEnergy is undertaking to promote energy efficiency and the use of renewable energies across Europe.’
From a wide range of high-quality case studies submitted for the 2011 ManagEnergy Local Energy Action Award, projects from all over Europe were nominated in two award categories. An expert jury, representing energy agencies, city networks and sustainable energy industry associations, met in Brussels on 9 March to select the best projects in each category, judging the London Development Agency’s “RE:FIT” initiative as the best “Technical Project” and the North-West Croatia Regional Energy Agency’s solar energy scheme as the best “Awareness and Information Project”.
The annual ManagEnergy awards recognise the most outstanding, ambitious and innovative projects in the area of energy efficiency and renewable energy that have been implemented by local or regional public authorities, energy agencies and other public and/or private actors.
Targeted at energy agencies, public authorities and energy actors with a local and regional focus, the 10th ManagEnergy Annual Conference was held on 13 April in Brussels during the EU Sustainable Energy Week.
Hundreds of participants from across Europe visited Brussels to attend the conference that was part of a broad event on 'Local and Regional Action for Sustainable Energy'. The presentations and speeches focused on the synergies between regional development and sustainable energy actions.
High-level speakers from the European Commission explained the latest developments in the EU energy policy that addresses cities and regions - in addition to promoting the regional dimension of sustainability - and presented EU initiatives such as Smart Cities, the Covenant of Mayors and the new Financing Facilities.
Representatives of local authorities from large European cities outlined their actions as well as concrete examples of how sustainable energy ideas can be implemented on the ground and broadly accepted by citizens.
ManagEnergy, among other things, aims to bring together public authorities and energy agencies, in order to establish close collaborations. Senior personalities from Porto in Portugal and Växjö in Sweden presented their activities, to illustrate how a city and an energy agency can work together in an efficient, complementary and fruitful way.
Interventions from energy agencies in Cyprus, Norway, Romania and Lithuania provided an insight into their initiatives and goals, while several participants expressed their opinions and communicated messages from their local communities. Interaction and networking opportunities were available throughout the day.
The annual ManagEnergy Local Energy Action Award ceremony was one of the conference highlights. The European Commissioner for Energy, Mr Oettinger, presented the awards to two outstanding projects in the area of sustainable energy at the local and regional level.
The European Energy Efficiency Facility (EEE – F) of the European Energy Programme for Recovery (EEPR) is a new financial facility dedicated to sustainable energy, with a special focus on the local and regional level.
The new facility will take the form of an investment fund complemented by technical assistance and awareness raising. The EU will contribute about € 146 million to the facility, of which about € 125 million will be given to the fund, while approximately € 20 million will be set aside for technical assistance. The European Investment Bank will contribute up to € 75 million, resulting in an initial fund of at least € 200 million.
The EEE-F will invest in energy saving, energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, particularly in urban settings. Sustainable energy investments could include: energy saving measures in public and private buildings; investments in highly efficient combined heat and power (CHP), including micro-cogeneration and district heating/cooling networks; investment in decentralised renewable energy sources, including micro-generation; clean urban transport; the modernisation of infrastructure, such as street lighting and smart grids, as well as investment in sustainable energy with a potential for innovation and growth.
Potential beneficiaries will include public authorities (e.g. municipalities), preferably at local and regional level, and public or private companies, which are acting on behalf of those public authorities, such as local energy utilities, Energy Service Companies (ESCOs), district heating combined heat and power (CHP) companies or public transport providers.
Following the successful ManagEnergy ELENA (European Local ENergy Assistance) workshop that was held during the 2010 EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW), a second ManagEnergy ELENA capacity building workshop took place this year on 14 April, the day after the ManagEnergy Annual Conference.
The workshop programme included presentations from the European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) that explained in detail the structure and function of the ELENA facility as well as the progress made over the past year. An analogous initiative with a special focus on municipalities of small and medium size and therefore smaller investment projects, was presented by a KfW representative. KfW has signed an agreement with the European Commission on this new facility. The new key action on Mobilising Local Energy Investments (MLEI) from the 2011 Call for Proposals of Intelligent Energy Europe, which supports technical assistance for small local energy investments, was also explained.
Examples of the kind of technical assistance which ELENA will provide at the local and regional level were showcased from Sweden, Italy and Greece in areas as diverse as energy efficiency in public buildings, sustainable public transport and smart grids development.
The approximately 150 participants from across Europe that represented energy agencies, national, regional and local public authorities, NGOs, and private organisations had the opportunity to pose their questions and demonstrate their experience. An in-depth dialogue with the European Commission and EIB officials offered insight into various aspects of the ELENA facility. The workshop was followed by a one hour long session, where participants could ask for specific advice from the Commission and EIB officials.
Representatives of local authorities (e.g. Budapest, Veszprem, Tata), energy agencies, ministries, consultancies and private companies participated in the successful workshop that took place in the capital of Hungary on 22 March. 46 participants, including 27 from municipalities, attended the one day workshop.
The key objectives of the workshop were to:
Participants were given a series of concrete examples of the different steps required to effectively meet the Covenant commitments and they appreciated the logical structure of the whole process.
Several municipalities and the regional energy agency (ENEREA) encouraged other local authorities to deal strategically with energy issues in their communities and, as a next step, join the Covenant.
Some 35 participants, primarily from municipalities across the country as well as local and regional energy agencies, attended the workshop that was kindly hosted by the City of Zagreb on 5 April.
Based on an initial local needs analysis, the ManagEnergy workshop was designed to focus on three areas:
The presentations on SEAP development included a detailed analysis of the City of Zagreb’s work to date, as well as good practice examples from a number of other EU countries, including Denmark and Poland. The core principles and success factors of Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) were examined, while experience was shared regarding EIB loans and regional revolving funds. A systematic approach was presented on how to secure financing for energy efficiency investments in public buildings.
Workshop participants benefited from presentations by the Ministry of Economy, Labour and Entrepreneurship and the Energy Efficiency and Environmental Protection Fund on the transition from the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance to Structural and Cohesion Funds.
The ManagEnergy workshop was also the ideal platform for the signing of the new Croatian Covenant of Mayors Club, with the charter of the Club being signed by an impressive 19 founding cities and 5 founding regional and local energy agencies. The new club will emphasise capacity building among the participating cities and energy agencies.