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
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
Altogether about 100 million EUR can be allocated to RES.
Hungary will also support RES through three of the five operational
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
3.Economic Competitiveness (RES related research and development (R&D)
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
Only the SPD of Lithuania explicitly specifies
plans for using funds for RES. The first priority of the SPD, Development
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.
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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