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Energy Efficiency: skills and programmes for SMEs

Peer review
By Platform

On 26 and 27 October 2020, the Policy Learning Platform organised an online peer review for the Region of Wester Macedonia (Greece), which sought advice for better addressing its policy challenge in the area of skills for the energy transition.

Read the recommendations in the follow-up report.

At the UN Climate Action Summit of September 2020, the Greek Government officialized its pledge to phase out coal power plants by 2028. This historical decision puts Greece on a steady path toward carbon neutrality. At the same time, it requires major transformations for the Region of Western Macedonia. Having relied on lignite exploitation for decades, which turned it into the major power generation hub of the whole country, the Region needs now to shape its future around more renewables in its energy mix and increased energy efficiency. Against this backdrop, the Region requested a peer review to tackle two specific aspects of its wider policy challenge.

  • Energy efficiency skills and advice: The Government of Western Macedonia was particularly interested in strengthening its skill base for energy saving in the building sector through targeted training programmes and in finding successful ways to offer energy efficiency advice to households and companies.
  • Energy and resource efficiency programmes for SMEs: The Region wished to collect  information on demonstration projects and policy instruments that could be implemented on its territory with the view to helping businesses improve their energy and resource efficiency performance.

Peers from across Europe

Alongside the low-carbon economy Thematic experts from the Policy Learning Platform, relevant peers were invited to participate in the peer reveiw:

  • Luciano Mule'Stagno, Institute for Sustainable energy Malta (Malta)
  • Savvas Vlacho, Cyprus Energy Agency (Cyprus)
  • Suada Mustajbegovic, Croatia's Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund (Croatia)
  • Kostas Konstantinou, ANATOLIKI S.A, Region of Central Macedonia (Greece)

Insights from the peers

The peers provided valuable suggestions on energy and resource efficiency solutions with a high degree of transferability that could be replicated in Western Macedonia based on successful experiences in other EU regions.

They also gave their advice on how to create or revive a dedicated energy agency and improve governance while raising awareness on energy efficiency and providing education and training in this area. Training programmes for blue- and white-collar workers were discussed in detail. The peers also suggested to create demand for energy efficiency skills through targeted calls and adequate funding and described useful tools such as 'one stop shops' for energy efficiency, energy performance contracting, energy service companies and voucher schemes for SMEs to trigger demand for energy works and skills in the building sector.

Please find the policy challenges of the Region Western Macedonia and the suggestions of the peers in the follow-up report.

This online peer review was also used by the Region to involve local stakeholders in a discussion on the strategies to stimulate energy efficiency skills and implement targeted SMEs programmes in the context of its wider energy transition out of coal.

What did the beneficiary Region say about the peer review?

Kalliopi Kiriakidou, Vice Governor for Energy, Infrastructure and Environment in the Region of Western Macedonia, declared: "The peer review was a great opportunity for us to come in intense contact with different good practices. I believe we have come to some very interesting conclusions. You have provided us food for thought.”

The regional stakeholder cluster CLUBE added: “We explored some very interesting concrete ideas and examples. The peer review was very rich for us and worked well in incorporating new idea, but also in reconnecting amongst ourselves. These events always give fresh impetus.”

The Region is currently studying measures  to use the energy efficiency recommendations received by the peers for the purpose of easing the transition towards carbon neutrality. 

Image credit: Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels