What's new at CITYnvest - January 2017

As we are entering the New Year, it is the time for the new issue of our newsletter. We can’t think of a better way of starting the first CITYnvest update in 2017 than by introducing new sections on our website. The series of interviews with local leaders has just been kicked off by five questions to Célia Laranjeira, the head of the Division of Environment and Sustainable Development of the Municipality of Águeda, Portugal. We hope that the interviews will allow to get a better grasp of the experiences of municipalities and regions that have already tried out innovative solutions, and want to share their know-how. We have also published the country pages for France, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania, which summarise the Focus Countries workshops organised last year.

We wish you all the best in 2017 and a pleasant reading of this newsletter,
CITYnvest team

Table of Contents

          CITYnvest news

  • Five questions to Célia Morais Laranjeira
  • Raising profile of CITYnvest in Spain
  • 4 reasons to look into the Clean Energy Package
  • CITYnvest invites to the Interregional Conference Renewable Energy – Now more than ever!
  • Crowdfunding for energy efficiency renovations featured by the CITYnvest workshop in Austria
  • CITYnvest presents local perspective towards EPC model at the ENPC Intrans conference
  • EUROSTAT rules and regional support discussed at the CITYnvest workshop in Brussels
  • First Presentation of the Early Steps in Rhodope Pilot Region
  • Romanian local authorities ready to set-up one-stop-shops on energy renovations

    External news

  • Tools for Energy Efficiency in Buildings
  • BPIE report confirms the crucial role of local and regional authorities in driving energy renovations
  • Belgium: New EIB-Belfius agreement to foster energy efficiency investment

CITYnvest news

Five questions to Célia Morais Laranjeira

Agueda is a city in north-western Portugal, which has around 50,000 inhabitants. It has recently found innovative ways to be energy-efficient. We interviewed Agueda’s Head of Environment and Sustainable Development, Célia Morais Laranjeira, to find out more regarding the projects that they have realized, the financing instruments they have set up,  and the barriers and advantages of the implemented solutions. Read the interview on the website

Raising profile of CITYnvest in Spain

Rafael Ataz from INFO Murcia represented CITYnvest at the Congreso Nacional de Medio Ambiente (CONAMA 2016). The Congress was organised by Fundación Conama under the auspices of Ministry of Development and the Government of Spain and took place on 28.11.2016-1.12.2016. It gathered representatives of the business sector, public entities from local, regional and national level, related NGOs and the private sector. The discussions focused on the circular economy, sustainable production and distribution of energy, sustainable buildings, construction and urbanism, green technologies, and much more.

This event was a great opportunity to share information on the CITYnvest project, to exchange with the experts in energy efficiency from the business and research fields and to meet various stakeholders involved in the environmental sector. A technical communication on the objectives and current stage of CITYnvest was presented at Conama2016 to approximately 1100 participants of the event and published on the website of the Congress.

More information available in Spanish.

4 reasons to look into the Clean Energy Package

The European Commission published recently the “Clean Energy for all Europeans” package featuring new legislative proposals for the energy future of the European Union.
From the perspective of financing energy efficiency in buildings and CITYnvest, there are four points worth mentioning:

  1. Smart Financing for Smart Buildings initiative (annex “Accelerating clean energy in buildings”) is the most important part of this package. It spotlights the increasing role of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and the planned support to improve the capacities of managing authorities, banks and local and regional energy agencies to make better use of the available European funds in the energy efficiency field, and the local level to pool investments.
  2. The lack of confidence in the market due to insufficient information on financial and technical track records of energy efficiency projects was often mentioned by local actors during the CITYnvest workshops. The De-risking Energy Efficiency Platform (DEEP) was developed as the 3rd pillar of the Smart Financing for Smart Buildings. DEEP is an open-source database for energy efficiency investments projects, which demonstrates the technical and financial performance of over 5,000 European industrial and buildings energy efficiency initiatives. The case studies featured by CITYnvest have already contributed to the development of DEEP, and project developers, financiers, and investors are invited to further populate this open-source database and benefit from its benchmarking features and peer-to-peer learning.
  3. The Clean Energy Package promises that Eurostat, will investigate the consequences of energy efficiency related investments on the balance sheet of public authorities. The statistical treatment of these investments is currently a major hurdle for local governments to invest in energy efficiency. The Commission suggests coming up with solutions in spring next year. 
  4. CITYnvest is mentioned in the “Commission Staff Working Document - Good practice in energy efficiency” accompanying the proposed recast of the Energy Efficiency Directive. Significant amount of information from our analysis report and data produces by CITYnvest on the case studies are included in the Commission’s paper.

More information on the Comission's website.

CITYnvest invites to the Interregional Conference Renewable Energy – Now more than ever!

How can citizens and local municipalities get involved in the transition towards a more sustainable energy system ? How can technology support the target of 100% renewable energy by 2050? What are the financial benefits of renewable energy?  What is the impact of global warming on biodiversity? These and many other questions will be answered in the interregional conference on 17 January 2017. More information, the registration and the programme in teh Events calendar.

Crowdfunding for energy efficiency renovations featured by the CITYnvest workshop in Austria

The CITYnvest workshop in Austria was organised in cooperation with Climate Alliance Austria and its office in the region of Styria, the city of Knittelfeld, and the Energy Agency of Styria. The seminar was a part of the annual event of the Climate Alliance members of Styria and gathered around 100 participants, especially from smaller municipalities.

The workshop gave participants an opportunity to see energy efficiency renovations first hand, as it was combined with a site visit to a local school in the municipality of Weißkirchen, which recently underwent refurbishment. Later that day, other national and European examples were presented. Case studies from Austria included an award-winning project of a school rebuilt with passive house standards and a presentation on using crowdfunding for energy efficiency. The CITYnvest example from Liège was particularly compelling for the Energy Agency of Styria, which is interested in setting up a one stop shop for energy retrofits.

 “We are here to inspire each other. We cannot exactly copy what one of us has done, but we need to find our own ways and adapt what others have learned to our local contexts”, Julije Domac, the director of the North-West Croatia Energy Agency and president of the FEDARENE network, said. He followed with presentation of other inspiring examples of large-scale energy efficiency projects, many of which were analysed in the CITYnvest case studies.

The day of interesting discussions on good practices and innovation in financing of energy retrofits was closed by an awards ceremony for long-standing Climate Alliance members.

Presentations and pictures are available on the dedicated workshop page.

CITYnvest presents local perspective towards EPC model at the ENPC Intrans conference

On 15 November, a first of a kind European Energy Performance Contracting Conference took place in Stuttgart, Germany.  The event was organised by CITYnvest’s Advisory Board member Climate protection and Energy Agency of Baden-Wuerttemberg (KEA) as the final conference of the ENPC Intrans project.  During the seminar,  CITYnvest presented the perspective of local and regional authorities towards the EPC business model by (amongst others) presenting 26 case studies across 11 countries, which prove that  innovative financing models for energy efficiency work and can be successfully implemented.  The in-depth analysis of innovative financing models received a very positive feedback from the participants of the event. Moreover, CITYnvest was prised by the conference organisers, as the most relevant capacity-building project on the topic at the time.

EUROSTAT rules and regional support discussed at the CITYnvest workshop in Brussels

On 12 October 2016, CITYnvest, INFINITE solutions, Brussels Environment and GRE Liège organized a focus country workshop in Brussels. The event gathered more than 50 participants, mainly representatives of Brussels municipalities.

The workshop featured European examples of innovative financing models for energy efficiency, the developments in this field in the Brussels capital region, and concrete examples and practical experiences in Brussels and Wallonia. The event facilitated an interesting exchange between different levels of government: representatives from the municipalities, the association of municipalities and the region.

Participants of the workshop discussed two topics more in detail. First of them was related to the support that the region offers for energy efficiency renovations and how the municipalities can help citizens to have better access to these schemes. The second was related to the EUROSTAT rules and how they hinder energy efficiency investments in the region.

Presentations and pictures from the event are available on the workshop’s page.

First Presentation of the Early Steps in Rhodope Pilot Region

During the International Conference of Climate Alliance (4-7 October) we investigated together with the CITYnvest pilot region Rhodope practical examples of financing energy efficiency for the people and by the people. Participants first brainstormed on recurrent barriers they face when attempting to launch participatory financing models and then were given the opportunity to look at a variety of financing models, ranging from:

  • Launching a “one-stop-shop” between municipalities to get energy efficiency investment projects off the ground in Bulgaria presented by Eftima Petkova (CITYnvest pilot region Rhodope). Ms Petkova illustrated how her municipality Smolyan collaborates with five others in the Rhodope Region to launch a one-stop-shop model, aimed at getting energy efficiency investment projects off the ground while mobilising the entire value stakeholder chain 
  • ESCO financing: Energy Performance Contracting models explained by Konstanze Stein of the Climate Protection and Energy Agency (KEA presentation) of Baden-Wuerttemberg, 
  • Local authority use of crowdfunding and cooperative models introduced by Nuno Brito Jorge (Citizenergy presentation).

During the discussion, bridges between the first challenges identified and potentials to overcomes these were explored. Main issues concerned the debt ceiling, the challenge to cluster projects, the community ownership and many more. Read about them and the future steps here.

Romanian local authorities ready to set-up one-stop-shops on energy renovations

On the 18th of October, the Romanian CITYnvest workshop took place in Bucharest. It was organised by CITYnvest in partnership with Finacon. In the first part, Lieven Vanstraelen from Energinvest explained the key ingredients of financing and operational models for energy efficiency and the highlights of the comparison report of 26 case studies across Europe. Ivanka Pandelieva from Sofia Energy Centre drew recommendations for local authorities in Romania, based on the similar experiences in Bulgaria. Several Romanian regional authorities expressed their interests in setting up a one-stop-shop model, similar to the one, which is now developed in the pilot region Rhodope.

Energy efficiency is clearly a priority investment axis for the European Commission”, Ionut Trinca, the representative of the national Ministry of Regional Development said.  The Ministry launched several calls for proposals, including for the residential sector, and an open consultation to tackle the building stock. 

Later on, Daniela Ionescu shared the experiences of the EBRD bank regarding working with local authorities for energy efficiency investments. She focused mainly on a model combining soft loans and  free technical assistance. She also illustrated the barriers existing in Romania by the example of some EPC projects for hospitals, schools and kindergartens which failed due to the complexity and contradictory interests, which blocked investments from happening. In her opinion, the main issue was the EUROSTAT guidance note published in August 2015 that accounted EPC by default as public debt.

The round table debate focused on the needs of municipalities. One of the main outcomes was a decision to develop a letter of recommendations, which would be delivered to the relevant national ministries.   During the workshop, participants expressed a strong conviction that they need to join forces and act together in order to have their arguments heard by the different levels of governance and accelerate investments in energy efficiency in Romania.

More information can be found on the dedicated web page.  

External news

Tools for Energy Efficiency in Buildings

Without strong and ambitious policy, the energy efficiency potential of cities is likely to remain largely untapped. Often cities have the opportunity to implement policies and programmes in the building sector that are complementary or even more ambitious than national activities but they need to have the right tools to do so. This working paper aims at guiding local policy-makers, technical experts and other relevant stakeholders through the key steps of the policy and project development process.  It features publicly available tools and helping to navigate among various information sources on energy efficiency in buildings.

BPIE report confirms the crucial role of local and regional authorities in driving energy renovations

The report “Scaling up deep energy renovations”, was recently published by The Buildings Performance Institute Europe and the Industrial Innovation for Competitiveness. According to the authors of the study, the frontrunner projects in Europe have demonstrated that innovation in all aspects of the  process – business and financial models, products, services and policy – offers great opportunities to  reduce  the  cost  of  deep  energy  renovation,  while  boosting  economic growth, creating jobs and reducing emissions. Read more on the website.

Belgium: New EIB-Belfius agreement to foster energy efficiency investment

The European Investment Bank (EIB) and Belfius have signed a key agreement to encourage corporate investment aiming to improve energy efficiency in Belgium and help local authorities, inter-municipal utilities and non-profit organisations in education and healthcare to implement their smart and sustainable projects. The agreement is under the EIB and European Commission's new Private Finance For Energy Efficiency (PF4EE) instrument (LIFE programme) to address the shortage of tailored and affordable commercial financing for energy efficiency investment. Read more on the website.