SEE CHANGE NET hosted EUSEW session residential energy efficiency in SEE — challenges and opportunities

On 20th June 2017 in Brussels DG NEAR and SEE Change NET co-hosted the only Western Balkans debate within the framework of the EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) in Brussels, entitled „ Residential energy efficiency in South East Europe –Challenges and opportunities“.

Colin Wolfe DG NEAR opened the conference saying “the challenge is that “South East Europe, as a region, remains two to four times more energy intensive than the EU28 average” the opportunity in response to that is in monetary terms, is that investment in public buildings and households alone could yield savings valued at €805 million by 2020”.

This session brought together experts and financiers both local regional and international who have demonstrated good practice, sometimes overcame challenges and delivered energy efficient buildings in the region. It was the opportunity for them to compare their experience to other centres where the challenges are great but as yet unresolved, to try to identify blocks and pitfalls.

Mr. Nacci from EBRD said that the “Western Balkans’ residential energy efficiency potential is unrivalled” and there are significant opportunities to capture this potential with the credit lines that engage private banks to use this potential. Mr. Galijatović presented the case study of Sarajevo suburb Alipašino polje project „Energy efficiency improvement of collective housing” and emphasised that “according to most recent data available, almost 20 of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s (BiH) gross domestic product is spent on energy, compared with about 6.1 % in the United States and about 4.75 % in EU countries”.

It was interesting to compare the experiences with EU members Bulgaria and Croatia. Mr. Tzanev from EnEffect had an interesting presentation called “Between a rock and a hard place: The story of the support programmes for energy efficiency in residential buildings in Bulgaria” where he identified the importance of having a long-term vision and defining concrete energy savings goals so that investments are coherent.

Ms. Vesna Bukarica from Croatia, EU member from 2013, presented the experience on how to make residential sector more energy efficient using government programmes with heavy promotion for energy renovation adopted in 2014- grants from Croatian national EE Fund from 40 to 80% of eligible costs.

Mr. Garret Tankosic-Kelly closed out the conference with two conclusions “ the need and the potential savings are vast and citizens should not be forced to choose between eating and heating”. Much more funds need to be focused on this area to reduce energy poverty. Also that far too little is being done to bring all the actors together and to communicate relentlessly the win-win-win benefits of energy efficiency for Government, Citizens and the Environment.