Iván Moya Mallafré is in charge of the Regional Directorate for Energetic Transition and Climate Change of the Government of La Rioja (Spain). Susana Mangado, Economic Development Agency of La Rioja (ADER), asked Iván several questions related to energy efficiency in SMEs.

Iván Moya Mallafré
Director-General for Energetic Transition and Climate Change, Government of La Rioja

Susana Mangado, Economic Development Agency of La Rioja (ADER): Why is energy saving important for industrial SMEs?

Iván Moya Mallafré, Director-General for Energetic Transition and Climate Change of the Government of La Rioja: Well, first of all from an economical point of view reducing costs is of paramount importance in a globalized economy and if SMEs are to play a role in this new scenario, then becoming competitive is a must for any of them. On top of this, there are many other advantages, as energy efficiency is one of the main EU targets, which means that economical support coming from EU will have to be linked to this issue.

Susana: Why is energy saving important for your region?

Iván: I understand that it is important for any region in Europe. As a country, Spain is committed to certain percentages of energy efficiency increase. As, a) we have a strongly decentralized administration and b) the energy issues in Spain are dealt at a regional level, we must fulfil Spain’s commitment.

But I would also like to add that La Rioja Government has the vocation of becoming an example of commitment and adherence to the Green Deal. Because of our size, there are many ideas and projects that can be tested here at the prototype level. This gives us a huge amount of opportunities in the near future.

Susana: What are the benefits of energy saving, apart from reduced energy costs?

Iván: It is already accepted by European citizens that our future has to be sustainable. There is no choice on that. And this sustainability must come from a fact that technology has only been able to provide on as from the 21st century. I mean that, for the first time in history, it is possible to grow economically and reduce energy consumption at the same time. This is the core of sustainability in the long term.

Susana: Does energy efficiency have an impact on the public image of an industrial SME?

Iván: In our everyday tasks, we talk to many SMEs. At different levels, yet all of them are willing to extend their markets and to become global. Well, these new markets, formed by well off countries that can afford to pay for high-quality products, are also very sensitive to the sustainability issues. Consumers see great value in knowing about the production process and whether or not they respect the environment in every aspect. If the consumers are not convinced in this sense, they will not buy the product.

Susana: In your opinion, are good practices transferable between the regions and countries in the EU?

Iván: Of course. This is the basis of learning. Every region or country will have their own particular features, but I am convinced that most of the processes are common. So, any improvement, any efficient measure, any idea employed in one place will be able to be transferred and used in another. This is the way we have built our societies since ancient times.
Susana: What are the most important incentives for SMEs to invest in the energy efficiency measures?

Iván: I think they have already been mentioned: cost saving, access to government and EU programs, market expansion.

Susana: Which existing energy policies towards SMEs in your region are in your opinion, the most efficient?

Iván: Current regional energy policy is conducted through the La Rioja Regional Operational Programme of the European Regional Development Fund 2014-2020 and implemented through regional grants for promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy use in enterprises, especially SMEs. Indeed, these EU funds have contributed to raise private investments in the field of energy efficiency among regional SMEs, even though we have not had specific oriented energy policies in our region so far.

I would also mention support actions related to energy savings in buildings and also those dealing with mobility. The first ones include thermal isolation of facades, RREE, mainly PV in the roofs, etc. From last year Spain allows the possibility of selling your own energy to the network at particular level. This has raised a lot of interest both for companies and private persons. As well as mobility, although in this field, manufacturers must make another step forward regarding autonomy and price of the vehicles. Storage research will become key in these improvements.

Susana: Which policies from other regions could be implemented in your region?

Iván: The creation of a Regional Energy Agency could be something crucial for La Rioja. We have also identified some good practices based on energy audit tools. These could be very useful for us and companies as instruments that “measure” energy efficiency of SMEs.