The work of one small provincial energy agency in rural Italy has led to investment of over EUR 90 million in energy efficiency in the region. Through a series of energy efficiency, energy management and transport upgrades, the award-winning Province of Chieti now aims to achieve a 25 % reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020.
Located in the Abruzzo region of southern Italy, the Province of Chieti had already joined the European Commission’s local sustainability initiative Covenant of Mayors. One of the conditions set by the Covenant is that each signatory prepare a Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP), detailing how the local authority is going to achieve its targets. Here, local energy agency ALESA stepped in, designing and developing over 100 SEAPs for the area. Director of ALESA Antonio Di Nunzio said,
‘It was during this process that we realized the great potential for savings through energy efficiency. Thanks to a grant from Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio della Provincia di Chieti, we were able to prepare a full developed proposal for the Province – and for the European Investment Bank’.
In 2005, the province’s total baseline CO2 emissions was calculated at 1 248 205 tonnes. Through a series of energy efficiency, transport, and energy management upgrades, the province aims to reduce that figure by 84 357 tonnes by 2020. Over € 90 million will be invested in a wide range of energy efficiency and generation systems such as photovoltaic panels, new heating systems, improved insulation, high-efficiency thermal coatings, and cogeneration and tri-generation power-production systems. The project budget consists of € 80 million in soft loans from the European Investment Bank and € 10.2 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under the Regional Operational Programmes for the Abruzzo region. This project is the largest investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy ever made in the Province of Chieti.
Di Nunzio said:
‘We worked very hard to reach this result. Our objective was to introduce innovative systems of financing for public works which could overtake the constraints dictated by the limits of indebtedness and internal Stability Pact, encouraging entrepreneurship to take calculated risks for the development of the territory. The involvement of the municipalities of the Province of Chieti was fundamental to reach this aim.’
It is hoped that significant savings will come first from energy efficiency improvements in municipal buildings. Energy services contracts for the first batch of buildings are currently out to tender, and it is anticipated that over 300 green jobs will be created by energy service companies appointed through public tendering.
Public awareness campaigns to inform local residents about energy use and efficiency formed an important part of the project. So far, over 120 meetings have taken place involving citizens and local authorities, reaching over 5000 people.
The vision of what this means for the people of Chieti goes beyond awareness-raising however. Di Nunzio said,
‘This is the development of a new economy based on the fight against pollution and waste. Energy efficiency and production of energy from renewable sources is the right way to achieve a new stability, with new jobs and opportunities.’
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