Energy efficiency is one of the top five priorities of the European Union (EU) and cannot be achieved without considerable amounts of money, recalled Adrian Ghita, Executive Director of the Romanian Fund for Energy Efficiency (FREE), at the conference “Energy Efficiency for Energy Transition” organised in București by Energynomics together with the Romanian Energy Efficiency Fund – FREE and the Directorate for Energy Efficiency within the Ministry of Energy.
“Energy efficiency starts with money and ends with money, it’s a concept we didn’t invent. Energy efficiency can’t be done without money, but once the money is well invested, it comes back,” said Ghiță.
A World Bank report in October found that Romania will need to invest 356 billion euros by 2050 to decarbonise the three economic sectors that generate the most polluting emissions, namely energy production, transport and the residential sector.
According to Ghiță, although Romania’s energy intensity has fallen by 30% in the last ten years, it is still above the average for EU countries. In its 22-year history, FREE has financed 30.1 million dollars that has attracted a total investment of 87 million dollars. These contracts have resulted in an annual carbon reduction of over 206,000 tons.
“It is the duty of private funders to contribute to public support,” he added.
FREE was set up in 2001 by a decree law at the initiative of the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility, which at the time provided the Romanian government with an $8 million grant for investments in the energy efficiency sector. FREE does not have any outstanding financing contracts.
Projects funded by FREE were in the areas of street lighting retrofits (1.4 million dollars), ESCO financing including public building retrofits (3.4 million dollars), industrial process technology upgrades (4.6 million dollars), photovoltaic installations for self-consumption (3.4 million dollars), waste-to-energy (8.1 million dollars), CHP on natural gas or well gas (5.4 million dollars), and local and district heating (1.6 million dollars).
FREE also funded the country’s first network of compressed natural gas (CNG) stations with 1.9 million dollars. FREE’s largest customer is the chemical combine Chimcomplex.
The conference in Buvharest was the last of a series of 5 scheduled by the Energynomics communication platform, the Romanian Fund for Energy Efficiency – FREE and the Directorate for Energy Efficiency within the Ministry of Energy. The project was financed by Norwegian Grants 2014-2021.