The purpose of FROnT initiative was to promote a level playing field for Renewable Energy Sources - Heating and Cooling (RES-H&C) in Europe, and develop strategies for its greater deployment.Created in March 2014 and co-funded by the IEE programme, FROnT was a consortium of national energy agencies, research institutes, NGOs and trade associations.This initiative strived to improve knowledge and understanding about the costs of heating and cooling, about how support schemes can be effectively designed, and about how information can be made clear and transparent for consumers.In order to support the efficient and cost-effective implementation of NREAPs, the FROnT initiative has identified strategic policy priorities at national and European levels which will support a stronger uptake of RES-H&C solutions. By researching existing support schemes and engaging with stakeholders, FROnT allowed to identify what makes support schemes successful in terms of design, implementation, operation and monitoring.Furthermore, FROnT also aimed to improve transparency about cost of heating and cooling and its value. For that purpose, a common methodology for estimating the value of thermal energy was developed, comparing renewable and sustainable options with incumbent ones. The FROnT tools can assist European or national policy makers, consumers and installers in making better informed decisions, contributing to decarbonise the RES-H&C sector.
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- To promote the implementation at national and European level of strategic policy priorities that can contribute to efficiently and cost-effectively implement the NREAPs: the consortium identified and proposed strategic policy priorities aimed at exploring the potential of RES-HC in Europe until 2020, taking into account market conditions, technological potential, legislative and regulatory framework and policy measures that assists and/or flanks support and incentive schemes for RES-HC systems.
- To facilitate the setting-up of improved and sustainable RHC integrated support schemes, stressing the value of the energy provided: by means of a structured dialogue between RHC industry, energy agencies and other experts, the consortium built a better & common understanding of the RHC sector and its main challenges, identified key success factors on the design, implementation, operation and monitoring of support schemes dedicated to RES-HC and targeted end-user’s key decision factors.
- To support a better insight of the value of the energy supplied by RHC systems, promoting transparency and clarity towards end-users and other stakeholders: the FROnT project designed a reliable basis for energy production value estimates that can provide objective criteria for legislation and support schemes across Europe. The assessment of levelized costs of heating and cooling was performed, and the online LCoHC calculation tool was published in order to measure up RES-HC solutions with the reference fossil fuels.
- To improve the understanding of the end-users decision making process with regard to heating and cooling systems in order to develop tailored approaches and facilitate adequate measures enhancing the uptake of RHC: the consortium identified the key decision factors for end-users when deciding on a heating and cooling solutions through surveys and developed several tools to promote informed decision and to be able to compare adequately the available options.
- A common methodology for estimating the value of energy supplied by RHC systems and an assessment of levelised costs for heating and cooling (renewable and conventional). Through an analysis of relevant factors for the determination of costs of heating and cooling, such as climatic or geological conditions, demand profiles, system performance, etc., and a well-established consultation process, the project developed a commonly agreed calculation method.
Adapting to the political context: There were major changes to the political context regarding heating and cooling at EU level. The EC launched the EU Heating & Cooling Strategy and the process of review of several EU Directives (RES, EPBD and EE) was initiated. These facts demonstrate the good timing and relevant goals of the project. Though, the project had to adapt to this new context and in some cases put more emphasis on (political) processes. In a project with a tight schedule for execution, more flexibility in terms of the tasks, its interconnection and precedence would also facilitate that the project could adapt to evolving circumstances.Gathering expertise and coordinating national consultation processes: The involvement of a wide range of stakeholders represent a real added value for the project. Though, coordinating consultation periods in several countries, with a broad range of experts, was harder than expected. It is also difficult to attract stakeholders, especially when SMEs are involved. There seems to be a gap in terms of human resources specialised in RES-HC in public entities.Engaging European stakeholders: Organisations with a EU focus, particularly when based in in Brussels, are faced with many requests for Advisory Committees or stakeholder meetings. Their engagement is easier if meetings are located in Brussels and relatively short (half-day or less), which might conflict with the idea of bringing other experts from abroad.