The impact of SMEs – which constitute 99% of EU businesses and around two-thirds of private sector employment – on the European economy as well as the environment is highly significant. Therefore, the transition of SMEs to sustainable and low-carbon practices is vital in achieving carbon emission reduction goals. However, there are many barriers in place, such as a general lack of knowledge and expertise, or limited financial resources, that make it difficult for SMEs to integrate new practices and approaches.

This month, SME POWER, in collaboration with the SMEPlus and RESINDUSTRY projects, will be hosted on the Interreg Europe Policy Learning Platform in an e-workshop on championing sustainable energy in SMEs: public policies to help SMEs save energy and produce renewable energy. To be held on the 24th of June from 14:00-17:00 CEST (Central European Summer Time), the e-workshop aims to explore what public authorities can do to support SMEs in their low carbon transition.

Chris Ashe, Director of the European Institute for Innovation – Technology (Advisory Partner, SME POWER), will host a keynote speech on “SMEs on the road to net-zero”, in which he shall present on the current state of SME energy performance – as well as where we need to go next, and how we can get there. Additionally, SME POWER partners Tea Potočnik of Local Energy Agency Spodnje Podravje (LEASP), and Stephen Beresford & Caroline Hearne of Durham County Council (DCC), shall present their good practices on The ECO Fund – Energy Audits, Energy management system and The Business Energy Efficiency Programme 2 (BEEP 2), respectively. The good practices shall be presented in short pitches, followed by follow-up questions from the participants.

Participants can expect to learn about the importance of the energy transition in SMEs and the barriers they face; policies and instruments to encourage SMEs to make interventions in their energy performance; and potential solutions for their own regional challenges. There will also be an opportunity for participants to exchange ideas and network with other participants and experts.

The e-workshop will be made up of four sessions:

Session I - Setting the frame

  • Welcome and introduction by Thematic Experts Katharina Krell and Simon Hunkin to the policy framework for energy efficiency and renewable energy in SMEs
  • Keynote speech by Chris Ashe from the European Institute for Innovation – Technology on SMEs on the road to net-zero
  • Panel discussion with Gabor Horvath, University of Gävle (SMEPlus), Stepanka Holeckova, Czech Technical University in Prague, University Centre for Energy Efficient Buildings (RESINDUSTRY) and Chris Ashe, European Institute for Innovation – Technology (SME POWER).

Session II - Good practices to help SMEs save energy and produce renewable energy

Session III - EU support

  • Alejandro Donnay, Deputy Head of Unit, Market Cases Energy and Environment, State Aid I European Commission, DG Competition, will present understanding state aid rules for support programmes
  • European support for the low-carbon transition of SMEs (speaker to be confirmed)
  • The services of the Interreg Europe Policy Learning Platform

Session IV

Thematic Experts from the Policy Learning Platform will be available for an online policy helpdesk. You can book a 10-minute slot with them to:

  • Discuss policy challenges you might face;
  • Receive information on PLP services;
  • Request tailor-made support.

You can start exploring the topic by reading this policy brief on Championing Sustainable Energy in SMEs.