Doing more to meet energy targets
This month the European Commission issued a stern warning that member states risk missing their energy targets unless they redoubled their current efforts to meet them.
In March 2007, amid growing concerns over energy security and the changing climate, national leaders agreed to turn around European growth in energy consumption by 2020 and cut down emissions by one fifth of forecast levels.
They agreed to cut down greenhouse gas emissions and primary energy consumption while increasing renewable energy sources by 20 per cent across Europe.
EU Commission president José Manuel Barroso warned this month that national governments would achieve only half the target unless they agreed to additional measures. National targets range from a renewables share of 49 per cent in Sweden to 10 per cent in Malta. Despite having the lowest target in the EU, Malta still has a long wayto go, but the barriers are not insurmountable.
A key funding instrument, the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP), promotes soft measures to change the mentality of markets and improve access to funding from banks. Besides promoting ‘intelligent energy’, CIP also creates the right conditions for success in entrepreneurship, innovation and ICT policy.
Intelligent Energy Europe (IEE) has a contact point in each member state to help overcome legal or institutional barriers to increased energy efficiency and use of renewables.
Financial, social and cultural restraints also need to be looked at. A technology may be available but no trained installers may be in place. Sales people may not know the difference in energy savings between one appliance and another.
Malta could have benefitted more out of the €730 million spread over EU member states through IEE during the current five-year period.
Getting over hurdles at the application stage appears to be one of our main difficulties. Scaling down EU criteria to include a country our size would help bring Maltese partners in from the cold.
Figures based on larger European countries may restrict access to funds by making it conditional for projects to involve no fewer than 200,000 people. Given that this is around half Malta’s population one can easily make a case for smaller figures.
A successor to the 2007-2013 CIP is already in the design stage, and the public consultation process is open until February 4. Creating a resource-efficient Europe is expected to be one of the flagship initiatives of the next CIP programme.
A survey is being conducted aimed at measuring stakeholder awareness of existing initiatives to foster the use of sustainable energy, such as the ‘Covenant of Mayors’.
Signing up to this covenant means a commitment to take towns and cities beyond EU policy on reducing CO2 emissions through enhanced energy efficiency and cleaner production.
The survey also sizes up public awareness of the European Local Energy Assistance (Elena) facility, which offers technical aid for large sustainable energy investment programmes in cities and regions. Elena has become more relevant to Malta, as it is now open for investments below €50 million. It has dealt with a wave of projects too large for stakeholders from a small island to even contemplate.
At an information session held last week, the new Malta representative of IEE, Pedro Fernandez Alvarez, advised stakeholders in small and medium enterprises: “It is important to start lobbying now… it needs to be relevant for us, and now is the moment to give your views on what is important for your sector.”
Creating groups interested in a specific subject, which would in turn partner up with a larger group is likely to provide better access to technical assistance and bank loans linked with expertise.
“This is the way future projects will be funded in the EU,” says Felix Grech, who assists with project applications at the Ministry of Resources and Rural Affairs.
A guidebook for mayors on how to develop a sustainable energy plan can be found at www.buildup.eu (publications) with advice for local councils on how to organise an energy day event.
Since energy targets concern the whole country, they should include not only public buildings and vehicles but also private housing and transport, so it is crucial to involve all stakeholders in a sustainable energy action plan.
An energy day is a local event that aims to raise public awareness of issues such as energy efficiency, use of renewable energy sources, and the links between energy and climate change.
Councils need to get more involved in the organisation of activities such as workshops, exhibitions, guided visits and open-door days to promote better energy behaviour. Every council should develop a sustainable urban mobility plan.
A joint initiative of the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association and the Malta Tourism Authority is looking at changing travel behaviour through guest house certification and better energy efficiency.
A call for proposals within the IEE sphere was issued last week with a deadline of May 11.
Applications for projects involving training and qualifications for better energy savings in buildings closes in June.
A roadmap is being drawn up on how to train the building industry workforce to obtain qualifications, and to be more aware about energy savings. The Commission is asking each member state to create a consortium of local stakeholders in the whole production chain.
The advisory body to the local building industry, the Building Industry Consultative Council, has shown interest in the initiative but must now come up with a set of actions to put in place over the coming years.
Negotiations begin in November for projects accepted, which could see the light of day by this time next year.
What’s in it for anyone who takes part? Potential savings are said to be “very large” for any of the energy guzzling industries – food, dairy, textiles, polymers, wine, ceramics and others.
Initially the response to calls was mainly received from institutions such as Malta Resources Authority. Now, commercial entities are organising themselves and forming consortiums to perform a specific task while keeping their intellectual property rights intact and enhancing their business profile.
Up to 75 per cent of eligible costs can be met through EU funding, although IEE doesnot fund research and development, hardware investment or demonstation projects.
Partners must demonstrate that they have financial, technical and operational capacity, but outside personnel can also be hired. Most of the money in these projects goes toward personnel costs, so planning your capacity comes first; staff can be added later.
Even if not accepted this time, it is likely that potential partners will send for them againfor another project. Anyone interested is invited to register with the national contact point: [email protected].
www.managenergy.net (go to Kids’ corner)