2022 was a year of significant turmoil for the energy sector in Europe, with energy security, energy independence, and climate objectives being at the top of the political agenda. The energy transformation is becoming increasingly vital for many public and private local actors, who also had to deal with a series of devastating climate change-fueled events. On the legislative hand, the European Commission and Member states are putting in place new frameworks to accelerate the transition.
Local authorities and stakeholders’ operating budgets are often heavily impacted by high energy prices. Yet, they are key actors to achieve the massification of sustainable energy solutions by reducing energy consumption while accelerating the deployment of renewable energy solutions. In some cases, this change of scale requires dealing with new challenges such as addressing labour or materials shortages (e.g.: bio-sourced insulation materials), modifying energy consumption patterns (e.g.: in lighting, heating of buildings), addressing the fast-increasing energy vulnerability of citizens and SMEs, and last but not least dealing with uncertainties in financing.
In this context of urgency and uncertainty, the local support models and services often provided by energy agencies must be continuously adapted to best fit these large-scale deployment objectives. Innovative tools and services for decision-making, pooling of resources and projects, innovative financing (e.g. smart EPCs, joint intracting, citizen finance), are becoming essential instruments for accelerating the energy transition and providing advanced support to municipalities and local stakeholders. They can be supported by key EC initiatives (e.g. Covenant of Mayors – Europe, ManagEnergy, Buildup, Energy Communities Repository, Investment forum, etc.). These new support models will enable energy agencies and local structures to continue to innovate and deploy assistance services, facilitating the scaling-up of local projects. New organisational models will be required, providing advanced and best-suited assistance to municipalities (as implemented for instance in the BAPAURA EU project providing a multi-level support scheme to public authorities – from regional to local one stops shops – for the massive renovation of public buildings through the pooling of projects with high-performance guarantee).
Energy agencies are at the forefront of the energy transformation. They are committed to innovating and providing advanced support services, addressing uncertainties and opportunities at the local level to accelerate the transition.
Serge Nocodie is FEDARENE Vice-President for Climate Actions. He is also the first Vice-President of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Energy Environment (AURA-EE).
This editorial is part of our publication “Sustainable Regions in Action 2023”. Find out more by clicking here to discover best practices from FEDARENE members as well as an overview of our activities.