A number of barriers prevent the full potential of energy efficiency from being unlocked. Some are practical - such as the difficulties of improving the efficiency of old buildings – while others relate to a lack of awareness or knowledge. The most common obstacle, however, is finding money for energy efficiency investments.

To overcome this, the European Energy Efficiency Fund (EEEF) has been created, a joint initiative between the European Commission, the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) and Deutsche Bank.

Financing for municipal, local and regional authorities

The EEEF provides market-based financing for commercially viable public energy efficiency and renewable energy projects within the European Union. The final beneficiaries of EEEF are municipal, local and regional authorities as well as public and private entities acting on behalf of those authorities such as utilities, public transport providers, social housing associations and energy service companies (ESCOs).

It pursues a two track investment approach, either through direct investments to project developers or ESCOs or through investments in local commercial banks, leasing companies and other institutions that finance energy efficiency projects. The Fund has a layered risk/return structure to stimulate private investment with a fixed commitment of EU budget funds.

EEEF investment projects fall into three themes:

  • Energy Saving and Energy Efficiency: Public and private buildings incorporating energy efficiency solutions; high energy efficient combined heat and power (CHP) including micro-cogeneration and district heating/cooling networks; street and traffic lighting, electricity storage solutions, smart metering and smart grids.
  • Renewable Energy sources: Microgeneration from renewable energy sources including photovoltaic, micro-wind power, micro-hydro power, ground-, water- and air source heat pumps; smart-grids enabling higher renewable energy sources uptake; energy storage.
  • Clean Urban Transport: Public transport; electric and hydrogen vehicles; substitution of oil by alternative fuels.

Example projects

Over €135 million of investments have already been signed by the Fund, most of which has gone straight to project developers and ESCOs.

In the Netherlands, the City of Venlo has entered a 15 year financing contract for €8.5m to finance street lighting upgrades with the objective of equipping a minimum of 16,000 lighting points with LED lights (73% of the total lighting points of the city) and achieving more than 56% energy savings. The existing public lighting was the largest consumer of electricity with approximately 36% of total consumption of the municipality.

The Société Publique Locale d’Efficacité Energétique (SPL) was initiated by the Région Rhône-Alpes as a private special purpose company operating with public capital. In 2014 it secured a mid-term loan agreement for €5m with EEEF to implement energy-efficient refurbishment projects in public buildings (mostly high schools and gymnasiums), including renewable energy integration.

Find out more

Interested? On the EEEF website you can do an eligibility check to find out whether your project could be suitable for EEEF financing: https://www.eeef.eu/eligibility-check.html

Image credit: Photo by Tookapic from Pexels