UNECE and the European Commission jointly hosted two sessions looking at the policy and investment options and challenges for scaling up deployment in Renewable energy and Energy efficiency and at the same time for durably addressing energy poverty and improving quality of life during the 9th International Forum on Energy for Sustainable Development in Kiev.
The number of UNECE countries with policies relevant to renewable energy and energy efficiency has increased in the last years but various policy barriers still need to be removed to substantially increase the renewable energy uptake and improve energy efficiency. The first discussion was dedicated to policy options and tools for stimulating investor confidence and ensuring the right regulatory and market frameworks were in place. Key messages from the speakers included the need for a well-targeted, yet holistic policy approach, whereby sustainable energy is underpinned by legislation and commitments for improving the required infrastructure. Country examples – from Albania, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine - showed that diverse approaches were used based on the specific national circumstances, such as feed-in tariffs and auctions. At the same time, most countries were keen to develop joint policies for Renewables and Efficiency, which have proven to durably curb energy poverty and enhance households social welfare and foster energy transition. Speakers also flagged the need to have stable and predictable policy and market rules, and a level playing field for different technologies in order to attract investors, while also balancing the overall energy system.
According to the REN21 UNECE Renewable Energy Status Report 2017, the region still represented only a fraction - less than 0.2% - of the global total investment in renewable energy. The second part of the discussion focused on identifying barriers to investment in sustainable energy and showcasing examples from international best practices on how to overcome these obstacles. On energy efficiency, the flagship Ukrainian Energy Efficiency Fund was presented, while initiatives by EBRD and GIZ – in municipalities, schools and hospitals - were also discussed. On renewable energy, project identification initiatives from Georgia’s Energy Development Fund and Ukraine’s State Agency on Energy Efficiency and Energy Savings were showcased. The need for RE Auctions in Ukraine and their perceived effect on the investment environment was also discussed. The cumulative benefits that an integrated approach to investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency can bring was a recurring theme during Session 2, exploring in-depth the various tools, including a mention to the UNECE Renewable Energy Hard Talks, options and pathways that would allow UNECE countries to capitalize on those benefits.
The dialogue between governments and business was recognized as essential to increase significantly the deployment of renewable energy, in particular to promote renewable energy investments. Within this context, the discussion recognized the potential value of the UNECE Renewable Energy Hard Talks for exchange of good experience and coordination of approaches to investment, across sectors and borders.
The event was also the occasion to present the EU's External Investment Plan approved in September 2017 which includes innovative financial instruments with a focus on loans and guarantees that lower investment risks for private sector participation. Two specific guarantee tools to support sustainable energy investment have been developed for this region: Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Cities in Neighbourhood with the budget of EUR 750 million provides through the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) partial loan guarantees and consultations for the implementation of "green" projects by industrial companies, improvement of energy efficiency of buildings, rehabilitation of water supply networks, wastewater treatment facilities in cities and communities, and so on. Another EUR 2 billion has been earmarked to Boosting Investment in Renewable Energy through which the EBRD and the Association of European Financial Development Institutions (EDFI) help households and private companies to attract investment into renewable energy projects that reduce CO2 emissions.
In support of the needed efforts to substantially increase renewable energy and improve energy efficiency, another matchmaking session was jointly organized with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) to present and discuss a variety of tools provided by international actors, including IRENA, EU institutions, UNECE, EBRD and others to facilitate investment of bankable renewable projects.
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