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ENERGY EFFICIENCY PROJECT DEVELOPMENT FOR SOUTH ATTICA

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Improving energy efficiency of municipal buildings in Greece

Municipalities in Athens, Greece, undertook energy efficiency improvements in public buildings, attaining over 65 % savings in energy and costs and leveraging private financing.

Climate Change and Environment
Energy

In line with the European framework, the public sector should play an exemplary role in the energy transition by upgrading the energy performance of public buildings and street lighting and integrating renewable energy sources. However, due to limited resources and prioritising other needs during the economic crisis and the subsequent pandemic, energy efficiency was often a second priority for municipalities. The mission of the EU-funded PRODESA project was to support seven municipalities in Athens, Greece, in launching showcase energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. This was achieved by creating market evidence-based examples for the early-stage Greek energy service companies (ESCOs) of leveraging private financing through energy performance contracting (EPC). The working teams undertook capacity-building activities such as workshops and coaching to meet the specific needs of each step of project development. “PRODESA is the first such effort in Greece and aims to create a network of municipalities that will replicate the results,” says the Head of the Project Management Secretariat, Eva Athanasakou. For this reason, the project consortium involved key actors such as the Centre for Renewable Energy Sources and Saving, the European Crowdfunding Network, and entities with technical, financial and legal expertise.

Energy efficient public infrastructure

Partners replaced existing oil- or gas-burning heating systems with heat pumps and installed rooftop photovoltaic systems for supplying electricity. This allowed them to cover a large part of energy needs in over 90 buildings. They replaced current lighting with LED and integrated occupancy sensors that could be combined with communication systems. Additionally, they installed heat recovery ventilation units and undertook airtightness improvements. Alongside external insulation and glazing improvements, these changes rendered renovated buildings nearly Zero, A, or B+ energy performance class according to the national energy efficiency certification scheme. Overall, PRODESA activities achieved primary energy savings of 65 %, 40 % by the energy efficiency interventions, and approximately 50 % of the remaining load was covered by photovoltaic electricity.

Financing scheme of energy projects

PRODESA supported the large-scale implementation of projects through EPC with ESCOs. Partners also explored crowdfunding as one of the financing mechanisms. “Mixing public and private financing through EPC in the context of energy efficiency improvement projects had never been done before in Greece for large scale building renovations,” emphasises Athanasakou. Moreover, the project demonstrated organisational innovation for the municipalities in Greece by producing a data-driven methodology on EPC performance and investments. The tools enabled the formulation of financing scenarios and the combination of various financing sources. Through annual cash flow balances and indicators for both municipality and contractor/ESCO, the generated methodology and tools enabled the economic appraisal of the energy efficiency and renewable energy source options. By including the contractor’s point of view, users, i.e. project owners, can also assess the viability of projects for the contractor for certain scenarios and can help define a more realistic cost before tendering a project.

Towards countrywide decarbonisation

PRODESA established a network of at least 30 municipalities willing to replicate project solutions and offered capacity-building activities and coaching for developing energy efficiency project pipelines. Towards this goal, guidelines were developed on how to implement similar energy efficiency projects through EPC financing. The PRODESA project was selected by the Covenant of Mayors as one of the important examples of financing energy efficiency projects in European municipalities. The next goal is to achieve countrywide decarbonisation of public buildings by 2050 in all municipalities in Greece.

Keywords

PRODESA, municipalities, public buildings, private financing, mixed financing, EPC, ESCO, Athens, photovoltaic systems, heat recovery ventilation, energy performance contracting, energy service companies

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