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EUSEW 2009 addresses key eco-innovation issues

28/07/2011

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EUSEW 2009 hosted a number of events relating to eco-innovation. These events demonstrated leading projects in different areas, and highlighted the funding opportunities available.

‘Take a week to change Tomorrow’ was the theme of the third annual EU Sustainable Energy Week (SEW) from 9 to 13 February 2009. More than 150 organisations were involved in EUSEW 2009, the central event of the Sustainable Energy Europe Campaign, which featured 150 conferences and events in Brussels and across 19 European countries. Some 6 000 people registered for the main events.

Two of the more notable events were the First Ceremony of the Covenant of Mayors and the third annual Sustainable Energy Europe (SEE) awards. Held in the European Parliament, the First Ceremony of the Covenant of Mayors was the first formal signing of a commitment by over 400 towns and cities to reduce their CO2 emissions beyond the EU’s 20% by 2020 targets. The SEE awards recognised the leading project partners of the SEE campaign. From an initial list of 251 candidates, 6 projects were awarded the top prize in 5 categories.

EUSEW 2009 had more events and attracted more people than in previous years. Outside Brussels, 62 conferences and events took place across Europe. These were attended by 18 000 people, taking the total number of participants in EUSEW 2009 to 26 400. Such a positive response has ensured its position as the world’s leading sustainable energy event.

Four EUSEW 2009 events had a particular relevance to eco-innovation.

Energy-efficient housing

Two EUSEW events addressed energy efficiency in housing in detail. Firstly, the European Commission Energy and Transport DG organised a conference on ‘Towards energy efficient housing: from CONCERTO to IEE’ which showcased some of the leading projects in this area. This was complemented by a second conference, hosted by Euro ACE, entitled ‘The role of buildings in meeting Europe’s 2020 goals.’

As the building sector accounts for 40% energy end use in Europe and this represents one of the largest potential energy savings in Europe, it is worth looking at some of the ongoing projects that are setting an example in this area. Representatives from the Energy and Transport DG presented a selection of building-related initiatives that are tackling energy efficiency in four key areas: raising awareness; promoting an integrated approach; access to capital; and changing behaviour.

Two key initiatives are:

  • CONCERTO helps developing projects, known as communities, implement integrated approaches that focus on energy efficiency, renewable energies, research and training. CONCERTO involves 45 communities across 18 countries; and
  • Intelligent Energy Europe (IEE) – part of the EU Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) – looks at not only energy efficiency, but also renewables and energy in transport. In total, IEE contributes to 400 projects across Europe, of which 68 focus on energy efficiency in buildings.

AL Piano is a CONCERTO project that is changing the behaviour of the population of Alessandria, Italy by improving renewable energy supplies to houses and the introduction of domestic energy audits.

ClearSupport is an IEE-supported initiative which makes it possible to access capital for energy-efficiency building schemes. It helps to give financiers confidence in energy-efficiency projects, and currently supports between 100 and 200 building renovations.

INTEND is an IEE project that offers an example of excellence in terms of promoting an integrated approach to energy-efficient housing. It works to optimise energy performance by encouraging integrated energy design.

PassNET – an IEE project – is an example of awareness raising, promoting the concept of passive housing Europe-wide, and providing education and training in Member States.

The Euro ACE conference looked at how energy efficiency in houses could help fight climate change. After presentations on examples of best practice and developments in this area, a series of recommendations was made calling for the EU to establish stronger standards, and enforced building and CO2 labelling. The conference also highlighted the need for new financing schemes to offset the high initial cost of low-CO2 technologies.

Funding sustainable transport

Transport accounts for 30% of final energy use in Europe and is the fastest growing sector in terms of energy demand. The Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation (EACI) presented both the IEE Energy Efficiency in Transport (STEER) and Marco Polo initiatives to highlight the funding opportunities for sustainable transport.

STEER funds ‘soft measures’, aids market penetration and the exchange of best practice to increase sustainable transport. It is funding 34 projects to help change attitudes to transport; the scheme covers 75% of the costs of a project, with typical budgets of €1.5 million. Two projects were highlighted: GREEN POST, which involves an exchange of best practice and lessons learned in postal delivery with electric and hybrid vehicles; and ADDED VALUE, which promotes collective transport as a way to energy efficiency.

In contrast, the Marco Polo initiative provides funding to make freight transport more sustainable. With a budget of €430 million, it provided funding to 100 projects between 2003 and 2008. Presentations on IBERLIM and SCAPEMED showed that these projects had resulted in 9 500 and 17 500 fewer lorries on the road respectively.

ICT in energy efficiency

The Information Society and Media DG held a conference on the role of information and communication technologies (ICT) in energy efficiency. This event gave an overview of EU policy instruments, funding opportunities and areas where ICT is being used to increase energy efficiency.

The challenges for ICT are threefold:

  • Reducing its own energy footprint;
  • Improving energy efficiency across the economy through measuring, monitoring, intelligent management and control, etc.; and
  • Driving a transformation to an energy-efficient society through measuring, aggregating, transforming and informing, etc. and through dematerialisation and virtualisation.

Several EU funding initiatives, including the Climate Action programme, the Seventh Framework Programme for research (FP7) and the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) – are all helping to support the use of ICT in increasing energy efficiency.

Under FP7, 11 ICT and energy-efficiency projects were funded in 2007 and 2008. These projects received €20 million and focused on how best ICT can serve the efficiency needs of energy-using systems. In addition, between €10 and €12 million was set aside under the CIP for energy-efficiency ICT-related projects for 2008.

New forms of support for eco-innovation

The Enterprise and Industry DG held a conference on ‘New forms of support for eco-innovation: the Europe Innovation Platforms’ to give an overview of the support structures available for eco-innovation.

The knowledge intensive services (KIS) Innovation Platform, developed under the Europe INNOVA initiative, has introduced the KIS-PIMS (planning, installation, maintenance and scrap) project to design and implement new funding schemes for innovative service companies. KIS-PIMS will support services that cover the whole life of new technologies for renewable energy – such as solar, wind, hydro, biomass and geothermal. It will include planning of new systems, installation and commissioning, maintenance/repair and scrapping of old systems.

With a focus on SMEs, these funds will help companies strengthen their business plans, link them with public/private investors and increase the European visibility of the most promising companies.