23 September 2019: The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) has published a report that explores progress in energy efficiency and renewable energy in selected countries in South-Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and in the Russian Federation.
The report titled, ‘Progress in the Areas of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in Selected Countries of the UNECE Region,’ analyzes policy, legislative and regulatory frameworks, the financial environment, and awareness levels in the areas of energy efficiency and renewable energy from 2010 to 2018.
The publication identifies gaps hindering the promotion of energy efficiency and renewable energy investments, such as continuing energy subsidies in some countries and lack of commercial financing incentives, and proposes recommendations towards overcoming them to achieve the long-term objectives for the energy mix and meeting targets set by countries.
The report, which covers Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kazakhstan, North Macedonia, Moldova, the Russian Federation, Serbia and Ukraine, calls for greater efforts to capitalize on the untapped potential of renewable energy and enhance energy efficiency.
Renewable energy sources, the report notes, contribute only 11% of total energy consumption in the UNECE region, excluding large hydropower, with progress rates significantly differing in the sub-regional context. For example, while South-Eastern Europe reached a 26% renewable energy share in the analyzed period, the Russian Federation only had a 3.5% share, Eastern Europe had a 5.2% share, and Central Asia had a 7.4% share.
The report notes some progress in the development of policy, legislative and regulatory frameworks. For example, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Moldova, Serbia and Ukraine are members of the Energy Community, which covers the EU and neighboring countries, and have made legally binding commitments to adopt EU energy legislation. In addition, energy agencies have been established in Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, North Macedonia, Moldova, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.
The report contends that addressing energy efficiency and renewable energy gaps in the analyzed countries will support progress towards SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy), in particular targets 7.2 (substantially increase the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix) and 7.3 (double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency).
On policy, legislative and regulatory frameworks, the report calls for, inter alia:
Belarus, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation to adopt national energy efficiency action plans;
the Russian Federation to adopt a national renewable energy action plan;
policymakers to focus on development and subsequent enforcement of the secondary energy efficiency and renewable energy legislation;
coordination of the development and implementation of policies at the national, regional and local levels;
policymakers, the private sector, financial institutions, academia and civil society to work together to formulate policies to achieve consensus and facilitate implementation;
predictable and consistent energy efficiency and renewable energy policies, aligned with existing energy market structure and coordinated with other policies; and
dedicated energy efficiency and renewable energy government institutions to ensure energy efficiency improvements and increased renewable energy uptake.
On financing, the report recommends: improving the investment climate for energy efficiency and renewable energy; non-distorting incentive schemes for investments; eliminating energy subsidies; ensuring that the most vulnerable have access to affordable and clean energy; and reducing the perception that financing of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects carries high risks.
On awareness raising, the report recommends: prioritizing awareness of energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities for authorities to address obstacles; information exchange activities and trainings as an integral part of energy efficiency and renewable energy development strategies; and that international development agencies support activities aimed at increasing public awareness of energy efficiency measures and use of renewable energy.