Europe expects €1 bn investment in renewable energies this year

The European Local Energy Assistance (ELENA) facility was launched in December to support projects. A first agreement with the Spanish province of Barcelona will be signed next month, and the EIB is in detailed discussions with 16 other cities or regions about their investment plans to develop renewable energy and increase energy efficiency.

The announcement was made at the EU’s Sustainable Energy Week in Brussels.

“This is an example of how an idea presented during last year’s Covenant of Mayors Ceremony is now a reality and having an impact on the ground,” says European energy commissioner Günther Oettinger. “ELENA is a chance for cities and regions to help themselves by implementing Sustainable Energy Action Plans that create jobs and, at the same time, help Europe as a whole meet its climate goals.”

Strong response may yield more funding for renewables

Oettinger says the strong response to ELENA will prompt him to double the available funding to €30m.

“ELENA is a good example of how limited budget money can be leveraged with EIB loans to support EU policy objectives,” says Philippe Maystadt of EIB. “The response has shown there is real interest from cities and regions in this kind of assistance.”

Urban areas account for 70% of energy consumed in Europe, yet the scope for investments relatedto renewable energy remains largely unused. The ELENA facility will help cities and regions to unlock this potential by providing technical assistance that is funded from the Intelligent Energy Europe II (IEE) programme.

Strong interest shown in renewable energy

More than 200 regions have already requested information about the ELENA. The €500m project in Barcelona will save 280 GWh each year and reduce CO2 emissions by 200,000 tonnes. Four other projects are being finalised which will unlock an additional €500m of investment over the next 12 months, adds the Commission.

Technical assistance supported by ELENA can be provided to a local authorities or other public bodies which are based in countries which participate in IEE with a strategy to curb CO2 emissions. The investment programmes supported by the facility will contribute to achieving the 20-20-20 objectives.