Acasă » General Interest » ORSE: Romania must invest in building and heating systems refurbishment through REPowerEU

ORSE: Romania must invest in building and heating systems refurbishment through REPowerEU

16 May 2023
General Interest

The high costs for heating caused by the inefficiency of buildings and thermal systems represent the main source of vulnerability and energy poverty, and, in this sense, funds should mainly be allocated for the thermal energy rehabilitation of homes, say experts from the Romanian Energy Poverty Observatory (ORSE).

“The investments and reforms provided for in the REPowerEU package from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) must address the problem of energy poverty as a priority and include measures that can be quickly applied to mitigate the effects of the energy crisis, especially among the most vulnerable consumers. The main source of vulnerability and energy poverty is the high expenses for heating, caused by the inefficiency of buildings and heating / heating systems. In this sense, funds should be allocated mainly for the thermal energy rehabilitation of homes, including those in rural areas, the more exposed to the risk of energy poverty in Romania,” it is mentioned in a press release.

Also, according to ORSE experts, vulnerable consumers must be supported to have access to modern heating systems and renewable energy sources.

These opinions regarding the direction of European funds in order to combat energy poverty were expressed countless times by ORSE experts, in the framework of consultations and public appearances in which they participated. Moreover, part of them can be found in the point of view formulated by the Economic and Social Council (CES) regarding REPowerEU, the press release emphasizes, according to Agerpres.

“Even if we are going through a period of energy crisis that brings numerous challenges related to price increases, this is also a moment of great opportunity, because there are European funds that can be used for vulnerable consumers and the treatment of energy poverty. Romania must not to miss this train, but our evaluations show that the national policies to address the energy crisis and those of the green transition fail to target vulnerable consumers,” said Anca Sinea, vice-president of the Center for the Study of Democracy Association and coordinator of ORSE.

According to Corina Murafa, energy and climate policies expert within ORSE and member of CES, all European policies in the field say that financing programs for photovoltaic panels, heat pumps, energy efficiency of homes should prioritize vulnerable consumers and those in energy poverty.

“At the moment, none of our existing programs prioritizes such consumers. The funds available through REPowerEU must put the vulnerable consumer at the center of investments – whether we are talking about household consumers or SMEs – and thus contribute to reducing energy poverty,” stated Corina Murafa.

Thus, ORSE experts signal that the essence of the REPowerEU investment and reform package is to reduce energy poverty and the effects of the crisis at the level of the European Union. Given that low energy efficiency is one of the major factors leading to energy poverty, measures such as improving the envelope of buildings where vulnerable consumers live and replacing heating and cooling systems with modern equipment are the most effective way to address energy poverty. In addition to the low efficiency in relation to the need for heating, old stoves can also produce other associated effects, such as environmental and indoor pollution or various respiratory ailments, they argue.

At the same time, experts also mention that, in parallel with reducing consumption by increasing the energy performance of buildings, modern heating solutions must be implemented, such as heat pumps, energy efficient stoves, but also other equipment for the production and consumption of renewable energy: thermal solar panels for the production of hot water, photovoltaic panels, storage solutions, etc. Likewise, the solution of supplying certain types of municipalities with renewable heating sources should be encouraged, for example heat pumps at neighborhood/quarter level.

Regarding the reforms that must be included in the REPowerEU package from the PNRR, ORSE experts agree with the CES point of view and recommend measures to remove legislative obstacles in the way of energy communities. At the same time, it calls for the creation of favorable conditions from a legislative and fiscal point of view for the development of renewable energy communities, means of mitigating the energy crisis and lifting people out of energy poverty.

Also, there is a need to improve the legislation for prioritizing vulnerable consumers in all public financing programs addressed to prosumers and removing obstacles to their quick connection to the network.

Another necessary reform is the elaboration in a multi-institutional framework of the National Action Plan on Energy Poverty, an obligation provided for over 10 years in the Energy Law.

“For the permanent, real and complete assessment of energy poverty, special attention should be paid to the exchange of data between institutions, corroborating the data related to household income, consumption and the energy status of the home. As ORSE previously indicated, in at this moment, each institution seeks to collect data in isolation from the other state institutions. In order to manage this transversal theme of energy poverty and the correct exchange of data, ORSE recommends the creation of a tripartite consultation tool (involved authorities, companies in the energy sector and consumer associations) at the level of the Government, based on models of good practices and existing ways of working, such as the model of the Department for Sustainable Development,” the statement reads.

The cited source states that this real exchange of data and the correct identification of vulnerable consumers are necessary to be able to optimize budget transfers to cover the increase in energy costs.

“Currently, as was recently seen with the Austerity Ordinance, the ceiling-compensation system cannot cover, from the perspective of limited budget revenues, all consumers in Romania. That is why it is all the more necessary to identify, after an accumulation of criteria, which are the consumers who need to be helped with priority,” the ORSE experts point out.

The Romanian Energy Poverty Observatory (ORSE) is a project initiated by the Center for the Study of Democracy, a think-tank established in 2006 within the Department of Political Sciences, Faculty of Political, Administrative and Communication Sciences, “Babeş-Bolyai” University Cluj, within which it functions as an accredited research center.

The purpose of this initiative is to provide a 360-degree perspective on energy poverty at the national level, as well as the necessary expertise to combat this complex phenomenon, which affects a large part of the population.

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