Improved cooperation between the private and public sectors with regard to energy efficiency was the focus of a conference entitled “The ESCO Opportunity: Improving Energy Efficiency in Public Facilities”, held on 24 September in Belgrade. The event was hosted by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the Ministry of Mining and Energy of the Republic of Serbia, and the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, with the support of the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities (SCTM) and the Central European Development Forum (CEDEF).
The conference – attended by representatives of government, energy efficiency experts, local and international investors discussed the introduction of innovative approaches to the delivery of municipal services, such as energy performance contracting (EnPC), improvements to the tendering process and increased participation of private energy service companies (ESCOs).
The EBRD has worked closely with government and local authorities to strengthen these new approaches and enable private investors to come forward through the Regional Energy Efficiency Programme in the Western Balkans. The programme is supported by grant funds of €23.35 million approved under the auspices of the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF), an innovative financing initiative which pools grant resources in order to leverage loans for the financing of priority infrastructure and socio-economic development in the Western Balkans. The WBIF was established in December 2009 by the European Commission, the partner IFIs – CEB, EBRD and EIB - and bilateral donors, and was subsequently endorsed by the European Council.
With the support of the EBRD, the Ministry of Mining and Energy welcomed the increased participation of ESCOs in the public sector to increase energy efficiency investments.
Under ESCO approach, energy efficiency projects are being implemented by experienced private sector companies, significantly raising the quality of these ventures and enabling investment in modernisation. EnPCs are the basis of this involvement. They help to minimise operational expenditures, such as heating, lighting, ventilation and the supply of drinking water funded from the ESCO’s resources and repaid from the realised savings. The ESCO contracted under the EnPC in turn guarantees a specific level of service performance, which ensures that all investments and its service delivery are covered by the savings achieved.
The EBRD is supporting the regional energy efficiency programme with both technical assistance and financing for projects implemented by ESCOs. Financing may be through loans from local banks under the EBRD’s Western Balkans Sustainable Energy Financing Facility (WeBSEFF) or by direct financing from the EBRD.
Over the medium term, Serbian towns and municipalities could benefit from investments of up to €130 million, which could lead to €30 million savings in energy - and maintenance costs every year.
With the support of the Serbian Ministry Mining and Energy, work has begun to identify priority public sector facilities in Serbia to be included in the first stage of tendering for ESCO projects. All energy intensive public entities are invited to apply for technical support to improve inefficient energy use. As part of the regional energy efficiency programme, the EBRD‘s consultancy team in Serbia is now supporting municipalities and public entities in their preparation of ESCO projects.
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