The EU has approved reforms that will free up €115m stimulus cash to be reallocated for energy efficiency projects with an impact on economic recovery.
The Industry, Research and Energy Committee of the European Parliament approved reforms yesterday to EU rules on financial assistance that will free up about €115m (£95.6m) in otherwise unspent funds. The EU funds could be used to support clean and energy efficiency projects in areas such as urban transport, public lighting, and heating and cooling.
The EU funds are available as part of the European Energy Recovery Programme (EERP) that was launched in 2009 and aims to stimulate economic recovery by funding energy projects such as cross-border gas and electricity inter-connectors, offshore wind parks and carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects. However, from the €3.98bn investment planned for 2010, €115m has yet to be committed, and the rule changes are needed to re-allocate the unspent money before the end of the year.
The European Parliament sought unsuccessfully to include energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in the programme when the EERP was first proposed. However, the European Commission, which initially opposed the proposal, has now promised to consider using any EU funds unspent by the end of 2010 for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
Only projects that have a rapid, measurable and substantial impact on economic recovery, increased energy security and reduction of carbon emissions will be eligible to get the EU funding. Specifically, the funding will be available for investment in combined heat and power and district heating and cooling networks, decentralised renewable energy technologies, clean urban transport with an emphasis on public transport and electrified and hydrogen vehicles, efficient street lighting and outdoor lighting for public infrastructure, electricity storage solutions and smart grids.
The proposed changes to support energy efficiency projects achieved 49 votes in favour, none against and four abstentions, and will be put to a final vote by the whole Parliament in Strasbourg in October.