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"Intelligent Energy-Europe 2",
INFORSE-Europe Opinion

December 2007

Following the first call for proposals, September 2007, of the new Intelligent Energy for Europe Programme (IEE2), INFORSE-Europe has the following comments:

Proposals for Improvement of Intelligent Energy for Europe (IEE) by International Network for Sustainable Energy – Europe

The promotion of energy efficiency and renewable energy is very important to reach climate targets and reduce EU countries' dependence of imported fuels. EU's IEE program is the only program on a European scale that support this promotion among all stakeholders. It has important roles to increase cooperation in Europe on renewable energy and energy efficiency, and to enhance EU policies for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Main recommendations:

  • The funding is small compared to the size of EU, and should be increased 2-3 times to fulfill the aims
  • The trend towards larger projects reduces the participation of NGOs and the number of projects, it should be reversed
  • There should be 2-3 projects for each priority topic.
  • To foster better cooperation on sustainable energy is propsoed a new type of smaller cooperation projects is proposed.

Improvements from first IEE
The IEE2 program from 2007 gave a number of formal improvements compared with the first IEE program. The most important of this was probably that the demand for co-funding was reduced from 50% to 25%, thereby enabling proposers of innovative ideas with less other funding to participate. This made it easier for NGOs to participate, increasing the number of possible participants in IEE projects, and making participation in IEE projects less of a burden for smaller organisations.

The overhead rate of 60% on wages is also an improvement, as it makes a more level playing field between smaller organisations and larger organisations that often have a large turnover on other activities that allows for large declared overheads with the “full cost accounting” method.

Problems of larger projects and limited funds
A negative trends is the trend towards larger projects, while funds are not increased substantially, at least not compared with the increasing number of EU countries. This gives fewer projects that typically will have larger partners, and thereby less NGOs.

With the many different priorities in the IEE work programme, and the large project size, there is not funding for more than one project for each priority, and in some cases there will be no projects at all for a certain priority. This reduces the dynamic role of the IEE, as it will not for each be possible to start more projects with different partners on each topic, it this respect making the IEE more like a tendering program than a grant program to support a number of activities in each field. The lack of projects in some priority areas also make the detailed work with the priorities less meaningful.
To make the IEE a dynamic grant program, fostering different ideas for each priority topic, there should be 2-3 projects for each topic. This will either require that funds are increased or that smaller projects are supported. With the relatively small funds (such as 50 mill. €/year), it will not be possible to increase the number of projects substantially and still have meaningful projects.

Stronger emphasis on cooperation needed
An important aim of the IEE program is to foster cooperation between sustainable energy promoters in different countries. With the decreasing number of projects and the discontinuation of support for conferences, the program is not working so effective towards this aim. There are in these years a particular demand for fostering cooperation between the “old” and the “new” EU countries, where energy efficiency and renewable energy are still given substantially less priority.
One way to promote cooperation without a large increase in the IEE budgets would be to open for smaller projects with the special aim of EU-wide cooperation in each of the priority topics. Each project should include one or more conferences, an internet-site or portal, an exchange of information with short reports from different EU countries and recommendations for national and EU-level actions. Such projects should be less than the current projects, recommended EU support 100,000 – 250,000 Eur. They should also have administration and the project period should be 12-18 months.

Other proposals
The IEE program often support activities of national energy agencies. While this is valuable to involve these agencies, they are better than most other stakeholder able to fund projects activities themselves. Therefore a large involvement of national agencies can tend to crowd out other stakeholders. One possible way to address that could be to give priority to projects, where national energy agencies are co-funding a larger part of the cost of their own participation than 25%.

Private companies are often important as participants. They must, however, participate on equal conditions with other stakeholders. Therefore it is important that they do not include overheads costs with profit margins and similar costs such as contingencies, reserves etc.

The process of proof of legal structure could be simplified for the application, and then be done with more scrutiny for successful applications.

These proposals are based on analysis by the INFORSE-Europe secretariat with inputs from Severn Wye Energy Agency and other members.

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