10 May 2010 – European energy commissioner Günther Oettinger has proposed that unspent EU economic recovery funds currently amounting to €115 million (US$199 million) should be directed to regional and local sustainable energy efficiency and renewables projects.
 
This would mean that funds will become available for small-scale cogeneration and district heating projects in the urban environment, according to COGEN Europe, which has encouraged the Commission to further extend finance directed at energy efficiency and cogeneration.
 
Oettinger proposes putting the unspent recovery package funds into a separate pot for energy efficiency and renewables, to be managed by an organization such as the European Investment Bank, adds the Europe-wide trade association. The Commission would still set the eligibility criteria for the funds’ use and will kick off an internal debate on the issue in the next few weeks.
 
‘The funds are a welcome start’, Fiona Riddoch, managing director of COGEN Europe, says. ‘Faced with the current financial challenges, Europe needs to invest wisely and locally. Energy efficiency and particularly cogeneration is a shrewd and stable investment with significant payback in energy savings, which is what Europe needs in the near term.’
 
This issue of funding will – among other pressing topics – be discussed at the upcoming joint annual conference of COGEN Europe and Euroheat&Power on 2 June in Brussels.