The 22nd World Energy Efficiency Day is being marked today. And while back in 1998 on this very day the question of the energy crisis came to the fore for the first time among world experts, more than twenty years later we are witnessing much more complex problems of climate change. It is the result of the growing need for energy which is mainly obtained from fossil fuels and causing emissions of greenhouse gases requiring, therefore, the undertaking of special efforts for increasing energy efficiency, namely, decreasing the needless consumption of energy and turning to the use of renewable energy.
In the last twenty years, a number of strategies and decisions steered the economy of Europe as well as other countries toward solutions that ensure non-carbon development. The newest Green Plan of the European Union goes a step further and intends to achieve complete climate neutrality of the continent by the year 2050. One of the key institutions in the implementation of the policy of energy efficiency, environmental protection and adjustment to climate change in Croatia is the Fund for Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency which has been financing and implementing projects throughout the country for the last 16 years.
Given that most of the unnecessary consumption of energy takes place in buildings, in the last five years the Fund has supported with considerable resources programs of energy rehabilitation of inefficient buildings as well as projects of using renewable energy sources for which only in the course of last year 60 million HRK in grants was provided. It included micro-solar projects on houses and apartments which increased the energy independence of citizens and energy production from renewable sources.
Separate programs of co-financing also covered the transportation sector, which is likewise responsible for one-quarter of greenhouse gas emissions. The procurement of electric vehicles for citizens and companies was co-financed with more than 40 million HRK in 2019, including the construction of charging stations. In order to provide better local service planning for citizens, 56 projects of “smart cities” we co-financed with 8 million HRK.
In accordance with the existing plan of decreasing CO2 emissions, in 2020 the Fund will continue with all the successful programs. As a start, to all the applicants for co-financing, the energy rehabilitation of apartment buildings, the experts of the Fund will be available as free of charge expert support, in order to facilitate the appropriate preparation of projects and submission of applications. This year as well the program of the energy rehabilitation of family homes will likewise continue and be financed through national funds. The novelty is the percentage of co-financing which will amount to 50% for all citizens, regardless of the area in which they live. In order to prepare citizens as well as possible, it would be commendable for them to check all the ownership documents, place of residence verification, and to prepare an energy certificate in the time since all are required as part of the application documentation. In addition to the rehabilitation of homes, the procurement of electric vehicles will also continue to be co-financed as well as systems for the use of renewable energy sources. The funds will also be available to local units for smart city projects so that all the measures together could ultimately result in the saving of energy and a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions.
Energy efficiency has for years now been recognized as a specific new energy source and the launched projects and innovations in the field are at the same time a new driving force of the economy, which is becoming increasingly responsible and “green”. In the next thirty years, an ever-growing number of challenges and rapid changes in our daily lives and business operations is expected in order to attain our environmental and energy goals. Of course, the presumption for all that is informing and educating citizens who are also increasingly recognizing the importance of energy efficiency and the benefits of energy rehabilitation projects, use of renewable energy sources, or, for example, e-mobility.