ManagEnergy Newsletter, July/August 2012


Interview: Marie Donnelly speaks about the new Energy Efficiency Directive and the crucial role of local actors in sustainable energy actions

Marie Donnelly

The EU has set an ambitious set of climate change objectives as part of its Europe 2020 strategy. Are we on track to deliver on them?

Indeed. In a changing world, we want the EU to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy. Energy and climate change are priority areas within this collective effort. 

By 2020 we want our greenhouse gas emissions 20% lower than in 1990, 20% of our energy to come from renewables, and a 20% increase in energy efficiency.

For the first two objectives, significant steps forward have been made. For instance, the development of renewable energy sources has so far been a success story. This is largely due to the introduction of mandatory targets. In fact, we have moved from a renewable energy share of 8.5% in 2005 to 12.4% in 2010.

As far as energy efficiency is concerned, however, if nothing changes in the coming years, we will achieve only part of our target. This will pose a threat to competitiveness, security of energy supply and our effort to reduce CO2 emissions.

What have been the key policy actions to ensure that we get back on track?   

The recent political agreement on the Energy Efficiency Directive is a big step to fill the current gap. The measures set out in the proposal aim to increase efficiency at all stages of the energy chain: generation, transformation, distribution and, finally, consumption. To a large extent, they focus on the building sector where the potential for savings is greatest. The core provision of the Directive is the obligation for Member States to set up energy saving obligation schemes for utilities, which is a policy tool that proved its effectiveness in those countries, including the UK and France, which apply it already. Other measures include energy audits for large manufacturers, an obligation to provide consumers with billing and metering reflecting their actual consumption, and provisions on a more effective management of the electricity grid.

Getting back on track requires everyone’s active involvement, from public authorities, energy utilities, industry and consumers too.

ManagEnergy’s target base is primarily composed of local and regional energy actors. How can they contribute to these energy efficiency measures, especially in a time of economic crisis?

It is true that the economic crisis has directly affected local and regional authorities. Cities and towns have been the first to experience the effects of the financial meltdown. However, this challenge also brings a unique opportunity to shift priorities and reconsider objectives.

In fact, the Directive proposal sets public authorities at the forefront of action. Central government authorities will lead by example and benefit by buying energy-efficient buildings, products and services, and by refurbishing 3% of their buildings each year to significantly reduce their energy consumption.

Take, for example, RE:FIT; the project that won last year’s ManagEnergy Local Energy Action Award. Through this innovative procurement initiative, public sector organisations appoint an energy service company to install energy efficiency measures in their buildings. The company guarantees a set level of annual energy and cost savings over an agreed payback period. On a practical level, this saves local authorities on their energy and bills, benefits the environment though lower emissions and the EU economy through the creation of new jobs, particularly in building renovation and energy services.

We need such initiatives to be replicated and extended across Europe. For this we count on the creativity, ambition and knowledge of local authorities, energy agencies and other sustainable energy actors at the local and regional level.

To carry out such ambitious efforts local and regional energy actors would need political backing. How does the EU support them?

The Commission is following a multi-level approach to support sustainable energy actions.

Look at the level of the strategic planning. Governments and private investors will only invest in energy if there is a more stable framework that guarantees more predictability. This is why we developed the Energy Roadmap 2050. The Roadmap points out how decarbonisation and energy security and competitiveness can be reconciled over the long term.

Also at the political level, substantial support is provided through initiatives such as the Covenant of Mayors. The success of the Covenant has shown the importance of multi-level governance in the fight against climate change and the need to link political leadership from the EU with strong local and regional commitments.

And then how are political commitments translated into concrete actions? Are there technical and financial tools available?

Once a clear policy framework is available and a political commitment is in place, the next phase is implementation.

At the financing level, for example, facilities such as ELENA and MLEI, both financed through Intelligent Energy Europe, enable the mobilisation of funds for local sustainable energy actions by covering a share of the cost for technical support that is necessary to prepare, implement and finance the investment programme,

At the technical level, long-standing initiatives such as ManagEnergy provide capacity building, training, useful information and actively foster networking, project development and experience exchange in a results-oriented way. Effectively, ManagEnergy helps transform sustainable energy policies into real changes that take place on the ground.

Several of the initiatives you just mentioned are closely associated with the Intelligent Energy Europe programme. Given its widely acknowledged impact, how will the programme evolve in the future?

Since its launch in 2003, the Intelligent Energy Europe programme has been creating better conditions for a more sustainable energy future in areas as varied as renewable energy, energy-efficient buildings, industry, consumer products and transport.

As I mentioned earlier, we live in a changing world. Policy and action areas are more interconnected than ever. Market uptake, awareness raising and capacity building are interlinked with research and innovation, technology and regional development.

Therefore, we are launching this week [June 2012] a public consultation on the Intelligent Energy Europe programme in view of the upcoming multiannual financial framework (2014-2020). Through the public consultation, everyone can express their opinion, address their needs and challenges and have their say on the future of the programme.

I invite all ManagEnergy stakeholders, including public authorities, energy agencies and other local and regional energy actors to participate!

Marie C. Donnelly is currently Director of Renewables, Research and Innovation and Energy Efficiency at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Energy. Ms Donnelly is responsible for the development of policies and actions leading to the achievement of the EU's 20-20-20 targets for renewable energy and energy savings. She is also responsible for the coordination of research activities in the field of energy, including the development of innovative solutions for low carbon technologies  She was previously Director of Resources and Communication in the Employment and Social Affairs Directorate General at the Commission.

Policy documents, updates and citizens' summaries on the Energy Efficiency Directive

The consultation will be open until 12 September: Learn how to participate!

Agreement reached on new Energy Efficiency Directive during Danish Presidency

Three percent annual renovation rate in public buildings under new EE Directive

EU countries have struck a deal on the new Energy Efficiency Directive, with ambitious measures aimed at closing the delivery gap on the 2020 targets.

Under the new directive, Member States will be required to:

  • Set an indicative national energy efficiency target, with progress assessed by the Commission by June 2014. 
  • From January 2014, renovate 3 % of the total floor area of central government buildings (>500m2, and from July 2015, >250m2) each year. Comparable voluntary measures are subject to budgetary and procurement rules.
  • Establish a long-term strategy for mobilising investment in the renovation of the national (residential and commercial) building stock.

Energy companies covered by the directive will have to achieve a ‘cumulative end-use energy savings target’ by 2020. This target must be, at least, equivalent to achieving new savings, each year, from 2014 to 2020, of 1.5% of annual energy sales to final customers, by volume, and averaged over the most recent three-year period before the directive takes effect. Member states may avail of flexibility measures, subject to a limit of 25% of the total national energy efficiency target.

The directive also contains provisions on energy audits and management systems, metering, billing information, and promotion of efficiency in heating and cooling, energy transformation, transmission and distribution and energy services. 

Member states will have to comply with the provisions of this directive within 18 months from its entry into force (tentatively Spring 2014).

Click here for more details 

Increased funding for Smart Cities and Communities ‘Lighthouse’ projects

Smart CitiesFollowing on from the 2011 initiative, on 10 July 2012 the European Commission launched the new Smart Cities and Communities European Innovation Partnership - aimed at developing smart, intelligent, sustainable urban environments. Funding has significantly increased, from €81 million in 2012 to €365 million in 2013, and will be focused on a limited number of high impact ‘Lighthouse’ projects. 

Funding has significantly increased—from € 81 million in 2012 to € 365 million in 2013—and will be focused on a limited number of high impact ‘Lighthouse’ projects. 

Lighthouse projects will typically focus on the following areas:

  • Smart buildings and neighbourhood projects 
  • Smart supply and demand service projects
  • Urban mobility projects
  • Smart and sustainable digital infrastructures

The idea is to test technologies that are cost effective, and beneficial to the whole community. Lighthouse projects will bring competent industrial consortia (composed of R&D intensive industries from the three sectors) together with one or two cities to demonstrate their advantages—so that other cities may follow to implement the same technologies.

Launching in July, the annual call for proposals will be open to industry-led consortia operating in energy, ICT and transport. The consortia will need to include partners coming from three Member States and/or Associated Countries teaming up with at least two cities.

Read more

Have Your Say on the Future of Intelligent Energy Europe

Now it's time to have your say on the future of IEE! Given the importance of local energy leadership in implementing sustainable energy policy, the input of local and regional energy actors is vital.

The Commission proposed in the next Multiannual Financial Framework (2014-2020) that the successor to IEE II (IEE III) will continue under the Energy Challenge of the future EU programme for Research and Innovation ‘Horizon 2020.’ A public consultation on the future of Intelligent Energy Europe (IEE) opened on 21 June 2012, with a view to informing the third phase of this programme. This public consultation will provide an important contribution for shaping IEE III in Horizon 2020.

Up to now, with €730 million of funding available (2007-2013), IEE II supports projects, initiatives and best practices contributing towards the ambitious EU 2020 climate and energy goals. 

You are invited to reply to this public consultation by answering the on-line questionnaire. Please read the consultation document before making your contribution. The deadline for contributions is 12 September 2012

How do you think IEE III should develop? Have your say here.

The first MLEI project to kick off: Innovative biogas plant set to launch in Denmark

beach cleaning

An innovative project led by Solrød Municipality (Denmark) is proving an exciting start to Mobilising Local Energy Investment (MLEI), the most recent funding initiative under Intelligent Energy Europe (IEE). The Solrød biogas plant is the first project of MLEI, and as such augurs well for the success of the initiative. 

As a complement to the ELENA facilities but with a specific focus on small and medium sized investment, MLEI offers support to European cities and regions to bridge the gap between sustainable energy plans and real investment into sustainable energy projects. Resulting from the first MLEI call for proposals in 2011, 8 projects are now ready to start.

This MLEI project will mobilise investment in a municipal biogas plant combining three waste streams - seaweed, pectin, and manure - from the locality and neighbouring regions to produce biogas. If it works as well in practice as planned, this will be the most profitable plant in Denmark, where there are approximately 25 biogas plants (input: manure only) in operation. It will deliver a multitude of benefits for the local and wider community, in particular helping to solve the coastal seaweed pollution problem. The MLEI support will ensure financing for the final preparation phase. 

The project originated from Solrød’s total commitment to delivering on the goals set in the municipality’s 2008 climate plan. The search for a solution led to the involvement of the project partners—the regional district heating company VEKS, CPKelco, which operates the world´s biggest pectin production plant, and local farmers. The benefits for the partners are considerable. The CHP biogas plant will significantly contribute towards the goal of VEKS to be CO2 neutral in 2025. Not only is CPKelco´s environmental reputation enhanced; CPKelco is also looking at this project for potential replication in plants in Germany and Brazil. 

The kick-off meeting took place on 2 July and was hosted by the mayor. Great enthusiasm for the project was evident in the excellent turn-out for the event, attended by leading representatives from all the project partners, including the local councillors who were unanimous in their support for the project. 

Commitment, ingenuity and collaboration are the keys to the development of this highly innovative project: read all about it in ManagEnergy’s interview with project leader Steen Danielsen

2012 ManagEnergy conference and award ceremony show success of local energy actions

before_during_afterThe 2012 ManagEnergy conference played a central role in this year’s European Sustainable Energy Week. The conference, which took place on the morning of 20 June, focused on the theme of sustainable energy investments in cities and regions. 

It hosted 18 high-level speakers from the European Commission, financial institutions, cities, and energy agencies across Europe, with three main panels devoted to the subjects of: securing local political commitment through the Covenant of Mayors; development assistance for investment projects; and the Smart Cities & Communities Initiative.

ManagEnergy also had a presence through a booth, which distributed various ManagEnergy print publications, including the newly published 2012 Energy Agencies Directory and Energy Agencies Map, which are also downloadable here. The event had great participant turnout: more than 300 in attendance throughout the morning, with many additional viewers of the live online stream. All speeches were simultaneously interpreted in six languages.

Download presentations and view photos here. Watch the video of the conference here.

One of the highlights of the conference was the presentation of this year's finalists for the ManagEnergy Local Energy Action Award, an annual competition that recognises outstanding projects in the area of renewable energy and energy efficiency at the local and regional level. This year, top prize went to Samsø 2.0 – Energy Education, from Denmark. The honour was officially conferred by Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Energy, during a dedicated ceremony held on 19 June 2012 alongside the Sustainable Energy Europe Awards.

Find out more about the winner, runners-up, and other top candidates on the 2012 case studies page.

More information on the 2012 award competition can be found on the award page.

ManagEnergy debuts networking service

EUSEW 2012 saw the launch of ManagEnergy’s new networking events. Networking events enable local and regional actors to exchange knowledge and experience of the challenges of implementing energy policy. ManagEnergy networking events facilitate peer learning on sustainable energy, strengthening relationships among local and regional energy leaders. 

Networking events complement the existing capacity building workshops, which provide training on practical aspects of implementing sustainable energy and climate plans, including finance. 

The structure of networking events is specifically designed to meet the needs and expertise of participants. Target groups include local and regional authorities, energy agencies, vocational trainers and educators. 

Networking events will be held on a regular basis across Europe - keep an eye on the ManagEnergy events listings for one near you. 

The first two networking meetings were launched during the EUSEW: 

During One day just for … National Networks of Energy Agencies & Energy Agency Directors, 15 key staff of energy agencies exchanged with their peers. The agenda consisted of vitally important topics addressing the upcoming challenges for energy agencies. Participants discussed issues such as how to provide excellent service to citizens within the context of the Covenant of Mayors, how to optimise cooperation with national networks, how to maximise  international collaboration and different models for  sustainable energy financing. 

The Financial Instruments Speed-dating: Meet ELENA, MLEI, JESSICA and EEEF, gave 50 representatives of European local authorities direct access to customised first-hand information on the latest generation of technical assistance grant facilities and investment vehicles for the mobilisation of sustainable energy investment at the local and regional level.

The event was structured in a ‘speed-dating’ format that allowed participants to discuss their investment plans and project ideas directly with experts representing five financial institutions and financing instruments: the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Council of Europe Bank (CEB), the Mobilising Local Energy Investments (MLEI) funding initiative, the European Energy Efficiency Fund (EEEF) and KfW.

What do you consider to be the most urgent challenges facing local energy leaders today? We want to hear from you--ManagEnergy is interested in your ideas for future networking meetings. Let us know at:

Visit ManagEnergy’s new networking meetings page.