Six European regions participate in the POWERTY project (Renewable energies for vulnerable groups)
The decarbonisation of the energy system requires that all European citizens can make full use of renewable energies. However, there is a high percentage of citizens with many difficulties to have renewable energy facilities and equipment, in particular the vulnerable groups, including those affected by "energy poverty". These difficulties are motivated by economic and technological issues (renewable energy solutions are not adapted to vulnerable groups), but also by other factors of a social and cultural type, use and owners of housing, etc., which influence the types of solutions that should be used, as well as how to manage them.
The general objective of POWERTY is to increase the use of renewable energies in vulnerable groups. This way, thanks to the project, new renewable energy installations will be facilitated to provide safe and clean energy to vulnerable households. In addition, companies supplying renewable energies will be encouraged through the project to offer technological solutions that are adapted to vulnerable groups, activating their corporate social responsibility.
In this way, POWERTY will help to tackle energy poverty, promoting vulnerable households with adequate energy supplies, thanks to renewable energies. Given the exceptional conditions of these households, social innovation measures will be promoted, based on greater participation, integration and empowerment of vulnerable groups.
The project will develop a complete learning process to facilitate an effective knowledge flow among regions, counting on 6 partners with different complementary expertise and different levels of competences (regional/national) which enriches the transfer of knowledge. More than 50 best practices and almost 50 events involving 60 stakeholders will establish 5 Regional Action Plans covering a population of more than 25 million inhabitants .
In addition to other specific objectives, increasing the use of renewable energies for electricity production and thermal uses in building, in particular by favouring small-scale generation in points close to consumption, and reducing CO2 emissions.
It offers financing and non-repayable grants for the acquisition of equipment and means necessary for the use of renewable energy in buildings in Andalusia, both public and private, as well as individual or collective, and the collective group most affected by energy poverty having a special consideration.
-Priority or Measure Concerned:
The policy instrument addressed forms parts of regional energy strategies and planning of the Regional Government.
-Reasons why it should be improved:
Although the operational programme considers interventions for collective groups, they are not addressed appropriately taking into account the special socioeconomic and cultural characteristics of vulnerable groups, so it would be necessary to refocus the actions included in the policy instrument in a way that it allows addressing energy poverty with a more inclusive approach, adapting the forms of financing and the technologies to the special needs of these groups and taking advantage of the opportunities offered in this case by renewable energies for the generation of employment and the integration of these groups in society, contributing, at the same time, to a low carbon economy.
-Objective: to enhance the use of renewable energies in the residential sector, especially in territories with sustainable energy schemes, as well as areas with high energy poverty rates, in order to contribute to climate change mitigation and decentralisation of sustainable energy production.
-Characteristics: subsidies to project developers and owners for the acquisition of equipment for the use of renewable energy in buildings in Rhône-Alpes, both public and private.
-Priority/Measure: the proposed policy instrument supports regional sustainable energy strategies and planning of the Regional Council.
-Reasons why it should be improved:energy poverty is not well characterised and few regional socio-economic indicators exist today to support regional policies and more effective use of public resources. It is necessary to identify those elements. At national level, several new laws have been passed that allow the collective production of renewable energy and self-consumption of energy. Although this new legal framework provides new opportunities to help mitigate energy poverty, policy and subsidy programmes at regional level have not yet been adapted to address energy poverty in a more effective manner. It is necessary to identify the technologies and innovative elements of low cost that best adapt to the situation of vulnerable groups, as well as the forms of financing, operation and maintenance of renewable facilities that are more appropriate for this type of group.
The focus within the current policy instrument addressed is on two specific objectives – raising energy efficiency in (1) housing sector and (2) public buildings. Within the housing sector, a “National Energy Efficiency Program for Retrofitting of Multifamily buildings” implemented through the local authorities is in place. It envisages implementation of EE measures for insulation, windows replacement, renovation of microclimate systems, local installations and /or connections to heat/gas supply, as well as accompanying EE-related construction works. The commissioning of RES is eligible where technically possible and economically viable. Internal improvements to the households’ apartments are not allowed. The target energy savings are 40-60% and energy class “C” compliant with the enforced energy efficiency standards.
Involvement of all private building residents is an obligatory condition to apply for funding. However, no mechanisms for ensuring the technical and financial participation of vulnerable or energy poor households is foreseen. In the initial programming documents the co-funding rates started from 50%, which made it impossible for low-income households to participate and thus the application process for the whole building was hindered. There are no supplementary schemes and support provided as well – i.e. bank credit and/or loans, low interest loans or preferential municipal and/or state support which further discourages energy poor households’ participation.
The main objectives of the Opolskie ROP, Thematic Objective 4 and Priority line III. are:
* support for the generation and distribution of renewable energy,
* promoting energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy in enterprises,
* support for energy efficiency, smart energy management and the use of renewable energy sources in public infrastructure, including public buildings and housing.
Support for the acquisition of equipment necessary for the use of renewable energy in public and private (both individual and collective) buildings of the Opolskie region.
-Priority o Measure Concerned:
The policy instrument is a part of regional strategy concerning energy.
-Reasons why it should be improved:
The ROP does not include specific actions addressed to vulnerable groups. For this reason, the rules regarding public subsidy programmes should be changed in order to make them more accessible for vulnerable groups. It is also necessary to determine the technologies and forms of financing more appropriate for them. In this regard, conditions of support (grants, loans) from EU and national, regional and local funds should be simplified and transformed in order to make them mutually complementary and more accessible for vulnerable groups.
-Objective: to reduce energy consumption in the multi-apartment houses (housing sector), including possibility to install renewable energy measures.
-Characteristics: in the private field, incentives for the energy rehabilitation of buildings, including incentives for low income dwellers; in the public field, investments covering promotion of energy efficiency, including renewable energy systems in the public buildings.
-Priority/Measure:the policy instrument is addressed to implement energy strategies in public buildings and housing sector, such as National Energy Independence Strategy 2014-2020,Multi-apartment Buildings Modernisation Programme and Public Building Energy Efficiency Programme.
-Reasons why it should be improved: There are around 32,000 multi-apartment buildings in Lithuania built according to the technical standard valid until 1993, most of them in poor condition and lack proper management. The investment gap for the renovation is up to 1 billion EUR until 2023 but the allocated financing for renovation is about 350 MEUR. In addition, a big share of the households in energy poverty cannot afford renovation of their housing. A market failure in financing renovation of housing sector in Lithuania is described in the Report of Ex Ante Assessment of Energy Efficiency. Alternative financing is necessary to cover this gap, especially for the implementation of renewable energy projects in building renovations affected by energy poverty.