Saturday

27th May 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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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