Wednesday

22nd Feb 2017

EU energy projects: no benefit for 150 years

  • EU funded energy efficiency projects are not making energy-efficient buildings, says the European Court of Auditors. (Photo: National Nuclear Security Administration)

EU energy efficiency projects in member states are too expensive and have little environmental benefit, says a new report by the European Court of Auditors (ECA).

The study, released on Monday (14 January), found that money spent to cut energy expenditure in public buildings will not show any benefits for 50 years.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

In some cases, the benefits will not be felt for 150 years - long after the lifespan of certain components like windows would have expired.

The worst offender was Italy.

The auditors found that energy efficiency paybacks in relation to the costs involved in one project would take between 288 and 444 years.

"The member states were essentially using this money to refurbish public buildings while energy efficiency was, at best, a secondary concern," said Harald Wogerbauer, an ECA member and author of the report.

The audit narrowed in on the Czech Republic, Italy and Lithuania.

The three member states collectively received the largest contributions, or just over €1 billion in 2011, from the European regional development fund for energy efficiency projects.

The figure represents 33 percent of the total amount of projects selected at the time of the audit for a funding period that runs until the end of this year.

Some 24 energy efficiency investment projects on public buildings were signalled out.

Construction and renovation was launched without any prior assessment or audits in Lithuania and Italy on the specific requirements to improve on energy efficiency.

"It was not clear why the various sectors should be funded and to what extent the energy savings potential could be achieved," says the report.

Most managing authorities were also unable to explain how they achieved overall energy saving targets.

Only the Czech Republic produced a result that met and even exceeded its target.

The European Commission is also at fault, says the report, for allocating the funds without requiring member states to justify their energy efficiency measures.

The commission's target to cut energy consumption by 20 percent by 2020 is now off target and will only achieve a 9 percent reduction under current policies.

"The commission has not monitored the contribution of these measures to the achievement of the 2020 energy savings objective, nor has it envisaged the use of such performance indicators in the energy efficiency sector," said the court.

Focus

Scandal around Slovak solar energy industry

When the Slovak government in 2009 allocated permits to build solar power plants, there was "widespread suspicion that it was rigged to benefit certain individuals," according to the US embassy in Bratislava. Prime Minister Fico denies the allegations.

Letter

Energy efficiency report based on outdated studies

The studies cited in the European Court of Auditors (ECA) energy efficiency report were performed on projects that were developed more than a decade ago, long before the existence of coherent EU energy efficiency policy.

Column / Crude World

Nord Stream 2: The elephant in the room

The European Commission should provide a thorough impact assessment of Nord Stream 2, a project that appears to go against all of its Energy Union objectives.

News in Brief

  1. Romanian parliament buries controversial corruption decree
  2. Dozens drown off Libyan coast
  3. EU ministers approve anti-tax avoidance directive
  4. Poland rejects EU criticism of court changes
  5. German nationalist leader met with Putin allies in Moscow
  6. German housing market overheated, says Bundesbank
  7. France invites three EU leaders for Versailles summit in March
  8. Greece agrees on new bailout reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  2. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  3. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  4. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations
  7. Salzburg Global SeminarThe Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play
  8. UNICEFNumber of Ukrainian Children Needing Aid Nearly Doubles to 1 Million Over the Past Year
  9. Centre Maurits CoppietersThe Situation of Refugee Women in Europe
  10. Salzburg Global SeminarToward a Shared Culture of Health: Charting the Patient-Clinician Relationship
  11. European Free AllianceAustria Should Preserve & Promote Bilingual and Multinational Carinthia
  12. Martens CentreShow Your Love for Democracy! Take Part in Our Contest: "If It's Broken, Let's Fix It"