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Government targets public sector buildings for £295m energy efficiency drive as EU steps up funding


Government targets public sector buildings for £295m energy efficiency drive as EU steps up funding

The Government is to target public sector buildings in a national energy efficiency drive as the EU separately plans an energy funding initiative for next year.

Energy efficiency dial

The UK plan aims to improve the energy performance in schools, hospitals and other public buildings over the next five years with a pledge to spend £295 million in improvements by 2020. The initiative, as part of the Spending Review, will be directed by the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

While not directly connected, the government initiative could be helped by a European Commission initiative next year that will ease access to funding for smaller energy efficiency projects, such as building renovations.

There is currently little detail about the DECC plans but it would seem logical that energy efficiencies would be achieved through a range of solutions that provide substantial savings with a close eye on cost.

Schools savings

Our energy-saving work with schools has demonstrated that impressive cuts in consumption can be made through straightforward, cost-effective measures such as installation of LED lighting.

We have helped schools to cut their energy consumption on lighting by more than half by retrofitting LED lighting and steered them through the complex maze of special interest-free funding, with repayments covered by savings on electricity bills.

With these savings available to every school, it is great to see any moves that support energy efficiency in the current austere climate both nationally and across the EU.

The European Commission plan is described as “a matter of priority” in a leaked draft of the upcoming State of the Energy Union Report.

Energy supply

According to an article in Next Energy News, EU leaders now broadly agree on strategy around energy supply shortages and the responses to climate change.

The Energy Union report draft also emphasises that member states will have to “accelerate their ambition levels” to hit 2020 goals.

A breath-taking €60-€100 billion of investment in EU buildings annually is essential to achieve EU 2020 energy efficiency targets of 20% compared to 1990 levels.

And the Energy Efficiency Financial Institutions Group advises that private investment in energy-efficient buildings renovation must rise five-fold over the next 15 years. It believes that a “historic level of public-private collaboration” is now essential to bridge the funding gap for energy savings projects.

EU leaders agreed in October to boost energy efficiency compared 1990 levels by 27% in the next 15 years and the current COP21 climate change conference in Paris give further impetus to carbon reduction strategies.

But up to now, the draft report says, “financing the required upfront energy efficiency investments remains a substantial challenge”.

Project size

It is a matter of size and scale apparently and by way of example, the European Investment Bank is hard pressed to fund smaller efficiency projects.

In response, the EU aims to launch a scheme in 2016 that will go some way to removing the obstacle of project size by allowing the grouping of a number of smaller projects to form an acceptably large and so fundable initiative.

The draft report says:

“This scheme should provide investors with better investment opportunities in energy efficiency and make capital better accessible for national, regional or local energy efficiency platforms and programmes.

“It will include strengthening technical and project development assistance and an increased use of off-the shelf instruments with conditions, notably in the area of buildings.”

 

The Nexus Energy article underlines that deep renovation of buildings could save billions of euros in electricity grid and generation investment but apparently implementation of the Energy Efficiency Directive and the Energy Performance in Buildings Directive by member states has been poor.

Under EU rules member states need to carry out energy efficient renovations on at least 3% of the buildings they own or occupy every year, while new buildings occupied or owned by public authorities will be required to be nearly zero energy by the end of 2018.

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