Skip to main content

Increasing Capacities in Cities for Innovative Financing in Energy Efficiency

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CITYnvest (Increasing Capacities in Cities for Innovative Financing in Energy Efficiency)

Reporting period: 2016-08-01 to 2018-01-31

The EU has set ambitious targets for energy efficiency for the coming decades. Buildings account for 40% of the EU final energy consumption and 36% of the EU CO2 emissions. Energy consumption in buildings needs to be reduced by 80% to reach the EU 2050 targets and most of these efforts will focus on the existing building stock. In order to reach the European targets, the investment needs are estimated at €100 billion annually. Notwithstanding the European efforts and initiatives to spur the mobilisation of energy efficiency investments via technical assistance and public funds, local authorities need additional support and incentives for the roll-out of their own financing mechanisms for energy efficiency measures. Local authorities act as catalysts to mobilise the necessary value chain for implementing innovative financial models addressing energy efficiency programmes. By showing the bankability of energy efficiency financing models using mechanisms such as local revolving funds, citizen-based financing models and energy performance contracting, local authorities are creating a snowball effect that will accelerate the rate of investment to its necessary levels.

Innovative financing models to unlock the necessary capital and implement energy efficiency measures are being developed and tested in a number of locations in Europe, with local authorities often playing a frontrunner role. However, they are not being widely implemented all over the EU. A lack of capacities and knowledge in many local authorities when it comes to these innovative schemes is one of the major reasons for this, as well as often the need to improve national and EU legislation. This is why the objectives of CITYnvest were:

• To introduce innovative financing models in three pilot regions in Belgium (Liege), Bulgaria (Rhodope) and Spain (Murcia).
• To enhance local authorities’ and other stakeholders’ capacities through a large scale capacity building programme.
• To monitor the investments triggered in the frame of the project by collecting and analysing data from local authorities in three pilot regions.
• To promote innovative financing models and share the experience and knowledge gained throughout the project.

At the end of the project dedicated teams and structures were set-up in the three regions. In Belgium: a provincial one-stop-shop for energy efficiency renovations is being scaled up to cover the whole Walloon region. In Bulgaria: the first of its kind in the whole of southern-east Europe one-stop-shop was set-up, and a dedicated team trained to support local municipalities in the preparation and launch of energy efficiency investments. In Spain: a regional inter-departmental cooperation has led to a clear match between the regional energy efficiency plan and the investments plan to realise it. Building on these experiences, CITYnvest main conclusion was the acknowledgment of the complexity of local realities and the need to involve all relevant stakeholders in the process from the really beginning. This becomes key to ensure long-term plans also when political situations are changing due to elections.

Thanks to a series of workshops more than 650 local authorities and 300 other stakeholders in 10 focus countries were trained. The workshops evaluation showed that implementing innovative financing schemes for energy efficiency renovations is still seen as a major challenge in many EU countries. Lack of local authorities' technical and human resources represents an implementation barrier especially for small municipalities. Technical assistance and external support are key enabling factors that could speed up the implementation rate in several regions in the EU.
A comparison report providing an overview of the state of the art of 26 operational and financial models enabling large-scale energy efficiency programmes from 11 different European countries was published. All the models involve public authorities working closely with the private sector and/or their citizens. The selection of models also covers the full range of public authorities, ranging from small municipalities to national governments, through the regions, provinces, large cities and county councils. The models generalisation coupled with the materials and lessons learnt from the capacity building programme allowed the preparation of a step-by-step guidance on how to design, implement and monitor large-scale energy efficiency programmes. The guidance details the key steps to follow and includes links to a set of useful tools and other resources developed in the frame of CITYnvest.

In the three pilot regions, the activities started gathering the support and engagement of the stakeholders which are needed to put in place the energy efficiency programmes planned. In collaboration with the CITYnvest experts, action plans for each pilot region for the concrete implementation of the programmes were prepared, teams dedicated to the implementation are identified, and ad hoc structures in the form of Project Development Units (PDU) set-up. In order to effectively monitor the progress of in the regions, a data collection methodology and respective templates were developed. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected in each pilot region. Based on the analyses of these data recommendations and further guidance improvements were made, including indications on PDU requirements, success and failure factors.

In the frame of a large scale capacity building programme 16 national events in 10 European countries were organised. A detailed follow-up strategy was implemented in order to ensure a long-lasting engagement of all concerned actors. At the end of the project is estimated that over 650 local actors were trained and over 2000 local authorities were provided with guidance material via on-line and off-line actions. All materials developed as part of the capacity building activities are available open source on the CITYnvest website.

In order to stimulate the creation of a better policy framework, a booklet with policy recommendations was prepared. The booklet was translated in the languages of the focus countries to ensure all relevant policy stakeholders were reached.

To widely disseminate the project results, achievements and lessons learnt, CITYnvest partners were present at a number of regional, national and EU-wide events to promote the CITYnvest materials and tools to a large audience as well as in expert circles on these issues. A final dissemination event was organised in Brussels, gathering some 100 participants over two days.
The activities of CITYnvest led to improved cooperation between public authorities and investors and among different local authorities in the pilot regions. For example, different municipalities in Rhodope region started to work closely together; a culture of collaboration which is also likely to spread to fields beyond energy, and to continue in the future. The same accounts for the other pilot regions, where different institutions and public authorities have been brought together and worked towards a common goal, which should have positive impacts even after the end of the project. Furthermore, CITYnvest enabled the consortium partners to raise their voice on EU policy matters that could further support the wider uptake of energy efficiency investments.