EI – regional energy efficiency push boosts renewables sector, creates jobs

A cross-border project in Italy and Switzerland relied on citizen support to identify cost-efficient ways of achieving energy efficiencies, to the benefit of local communities.

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Voltaggio  40 kW PV plant © SPES Consulting Voltaggio 40 kW PV plant © SPES Consulting

" This project has provided intelligent support and independent technical assistance to more than 70 Italian and Swiss municipalities. We have helped identify the most suitable solutions to improve energy efficiency and increase the exploitation of renewable energies, and suggested the best paths for implementation through accessing state or regional funding or, in most cases, through the involvement of private operators. "

Adriano Pessina, SPES Consulting

The key aim of this project was to support local public administrations – and to involve citizens – in reducing energy consumption and promoting the use of renewable energy sources. Tools applicable to both Italian and Swiss regions were identified, as were methods for raising awareness among citizens.

Improvements in regional energy efficiency 

Measures were implemented in more than 50 municipalities in the Italian region of Piedmont. For example, public lighting efficiency improvement projects were introduced in seven municipalities, while the replacement of boilers in public buildings was carried out in five. Energy efficiencies in public buildings were achieved in six municipalities, while two municipalities installed cogeneration systems in swimming pools.

Some 10 municipalities in the Italian regions of Piedmont and Bolzano took part in the project. An energy analysis of public buildings was carried out in four municipalities, while the cities of San Martino in Passiria and Naturno were certified with the European Energy Award system. Across the border in Switzerland, four municipalities in the Canton of Ticino carried out studies for an inter-municipal energy plan that would cover over 34 600 inhabitants. 

Involvement of citizens 

In the Piedmont municipalities, 20 information meetings were attended by a total of 400 people. These meetings addressed the economic and environmental advantages of photovoltaic power, and offered free advice on installation. Other meetings were organised to discuss energy-saving measures for the domestic sector. Furthermore, ten schools participated in energy efficiency teacher training courses, which gave classroom activity ideas. 

In Bolzano, a school energy saving competition was launched and an evening meeting dedicated to climate change organised, while in Canton Ticino, the establishment of a solar photovoltaic purchasing group led to several installations. A solar thermal purchasing group involving 74 families was also created.

Long-term benefits 

This project has had a positive impact on employment and helped boost SME renewable energy providers in the region. The consortium estimates that around 100 jobs were directly created during project implementation, while around 20 jobs have been created since completion. A number of tenders for renewable energy installations have been launched. The result is that renewable energy production capacity has been increased, which will help reduce CO2 emissions over the long term.  Also the planning activity in Canton Ticino and the European Energy Award certification are going to multiply the effects in the next years.

Total investment and EU funding 

Total investment for the project “Energy Innovation (EI): Instruments and actions to implement energy efficiency interventions and to promote renewable energies” is EUR 881 820, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 507 675 through the “Italy-Switzerland” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.

Draft date

09/11/2016