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SF into Renewables in New EU Member States "2004-2006"
The use of the Structural Funds for the development of RE is supported by several National development plans in new EU member states.

In the Czech Republic this support is mentioned under three of the five operational programmes:

1. Industry and Enterprise (Specific Objective 2.3:Reducing energy consumption and higher use of renewable sources of energy)
2. Infrastructure (Specific Objective 2.3: Support for the introduction of alternative fuels, Specific Objective 3.3: Air protection infrastructure improvement and Specific Objective 3.4: Waste Management)
3.Multifunctional Agriculture and Rural Development (Specific Objective 1.1: Investments in agricultural holdings - Further diversification of agricultural activities).

Altogether about 100 million EUR can be allocated to RES.

Hungary will also support RES through three of the five operational programmes:

1. Environmental Protection and Infrastructure (Component A: increasing the use of the renewable energy resources)
2. Agriculture and Rural Development (RES as activities as parts of sub-measures)
3.Economic Competitiveness (RES related research and development (R&D) activities).

At least 23 million EUR can be allocated to RES from 2004-2006.

For the Slovak Republic, two operational programmes are relevant for the support of RES:

1. Industry and Services (strategic support for renewable sources of energy and cost-effective technologies and production of heat and electrical energy from renewable resources; Measure 1.4: Support for energy saving and use of renewable energy sources)
2. Basic Infrastructure (Measure 2.2: Improvement and development of the infrastructure for the protection of air - changing fuel base of energy resources, with focus on low-emission and renewable resources and Sub-measure 3.1.1: Building and development of education infrastructure and Sub-measure 3.1.2: Building and development of health infrastructure, where RES are explicitly mentioned as a tool to help reduce emissions in present buildings heated by coal or heavy oil).

Poland also plans to support RES within two operational programmes.

1. The Growth of Economic Competitiveness Programme assumes support for investment projects in industrial enterprises relating among others to investments in combined heat and power generation, conversion of fuel combustion installations to more environmental friendly solutions and activities supporting alternative energy sources use.
2. The Integrated Operational Programme for Regional Development includes projects for construction, development and modernisation of public infrastructure for producing electrical energy and heat from renewable resources.

Indirectly, RES can also be supported through the Cohesion Fund, mainly under projects for air quality improvement.

Estonia, Lithuania and Slovenia have adopted Single Programming Documents (SPD) - which set priorities for the use of Structural Funds on the basis of the national development and - strategic documents and guidelines of the EU.

Only the SPD of Lithuania explicitly specifies plans for using funds for RES. The first priority of the SPD, Development of Social and Economic Infrastructure, lists among other measures also Measure 4: Development of energy efficiency, which includes RES projects.
The Annex of the SPD provides more detailed information on RES under the Measure 1.2: Insurance of stability of energy supply, access and higher energy efficiency. One of the aims of this measure is to increase the use of RES and to install new technologies for RES use. The funds are planned to be allocated not only to concrete RES projects and technologies, but also to R&D, raising public awareness and education.

In the Estonian and Slovenian SPD the development and use of RES is not listed among the priorities or specific measures and activities. Estonia and Slovenia do not have explicit plans for supporting RES advancement with the Structural Funds; however, there are many opportunities for support of RES under the declared priorities. These aim mostly at increasing economic competitiveness, development of human resources, agricultural development and technical assistance.

Opening Challenges
As well as opening opportunities for the expansion of RES, the Structural Funds also provide potential threats and challenges for environmental protection. The main concern is that large investments with doubtful environmental integrity will dominate the use of the Structural Funds in spite of declared environmental protection priorities. Specifically in the field of RES there is a lack of clear priorities and programmes for RES as well as the absence of RES related legislation and regulations. This is expected to negatively affect the use of the Structural Funds in terms of RES. Another possible barrier is the lack of experience, knowledge and enough competent people to prepare and implement projects. These factors could lead to missed opportunities to upgrade national and private funds by stimulating RES use with European Union (EU) funds.

According to the future regulations drafted in the Third Report on Economic and Social Cohesion, in the coming programming period (2007-2013), renewable energy and energy efficiency are highlighted as eligible for funding. This is a strong reason for the fulfillment of the main recommendation of this report, which originates from the country reports: Raising the profile of RES for future programming periods. This should be achieved mainly through setting binding national and EU-wide targets for the use of RES and adoption of clear and specific programmes for RES activities, but also through raising awareness and education. Although in some countries the link between job creation, innovation and the promotion of RES is well explored (for example, in the Czech Republic), all countries should pay closer attention to these issues. According to the report of WWF, Eastern Promise: Progress Report on the EU Renewable Electricity Directive in Accession Countries, RES could create about 100 000 working positions in Poland and the Czech Republic alone. This should then be one of the major reasons for raising support for RES through the use of the Structural Funds. The profile of RES should be raised also through creation of a stable and financially favourable investment environment with less complex regulations and comprehensible guidance through the processes. Agencies that can offer support to investments by providing information and guidance, or publications on how to best invest in RES, would be welcomed.
Another important message is the elimination of support for environmentally harmful projects from the Structural Funds. Fuel switch projects and fossil fuel related projects should be excluded from the Structural Funds and financing should be redirected towards strictly RES projects. Generally speaking, in the future more space should be made within the Structural Funds program for environment friendly projects. When promoting RES projects, these should not come into conflict with the EU's Water Framework Directive and Natura 2000. It should be kept in mind that the economic viability and social convenience of RES projects must not be above natural and spatial values. NGOs must play a crucial role in the formation of priorities for subsequent programming periods from the initial stages of the process. In such a way quality of the programming documents is assured, as well as social and environmental acceptance. The participation of NGOs in the steering and monitoring of RES projects implementation is also of high importance for the environmental and social integrity of the RES projects.

Possibilities for NGOs to Use Structural Funds
In all the analyzed countries, NGOs could apply to use EU funds for promotion of RES, but the fields in which they may act vary from country to country. In Lithuania, all legal entities which work in the energy field are eligible to use the funds, and thus an NGO dealing with RES could apply for funding. In the Czech Republic, NGOs can benefit from funds under the Operational Programme for Infrastructure. Hungarian NGOs can obtain support under the Environmental Protection and Infrastructure Operational Programme and even apply for a higher share of support than small or medium sized enterprises (SMEs). In Poland, NGOs can apply for funds only in cooperation with the local governments. Slovenian NGOs can be end users under Priority 1: Stimulation of the Production Sector and Competitiveness, but can also participate in raising awareness and informing the community.

Reviews of the Single Programming Documents show that renewable sources of energy are not defined among the priority tasks for the use of Structural Funds. In spite of this, there are many possibilities to stimulate RES through fulfilling the priority tasks of the Single Programming Document. One opportunity that should be taken advantage of under the Structural Funds is the development of the RES sector in Slovenia. As there are some regions that are burdened by a decline in their economy (e.g. mining), development of the RES sector should be the strategy for those regions. Training a workforce for the production and use of RES technologies, supporting RES R&D and establishment of companies to produce RES technologies are activities that are clearly in line with the priority tasks of the Single Programming Document. If such opportunity is exploited, it can contribute considerably to the competitiveness of the Slovenian economy, employment, independence of the energy sector and protection of the environment. Another opportunity that should not be missed is explicit prioritisation of RES in future programming periods. Slovenia must fulfil the EU directives related to energy and also the Kyoto Protocol. At  resent, the possibility that this will occur is limited, especially in the RES sector. The initial required investment in RES is still high and non-competitive compared to heavily subsidised fossil fuel and nuclear sectors. The potential of private capital faces obstacles in the RES field because of complex procedures involved in RES use. Use of Structural Funds to overcome these obstacles should be the strategy chosen by Slovenia in coming programming periods. Both suggested actions would have increased chance of success if Slovenia would finally adopt a clear renewables policy, supported by an agency for RES and less complex regulations established through a RES law. When forming the RES policies two important things should be born in mind. One is that the RES may only be used in such a way as not to affect the environment and the spatial values of Slovenia. The other is that the share of RES in the TPES can also be increased through reducing the energy intensity, mainly the industrial electricity use.

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