Access to Energy Renovation

Habitat Bulgaria has formed a partnership with the European Climate Foundation to support its advocacy activities on tackling energy poverty through improved energy efficiency in housing.

In the period July 2020 – June 2021, Habitat Bulgaria implemented the first joint advocacy project. Habitat Bulgaria actively advocated for the adoption of a Long-term Strategy for the Renovation of the Housing and Non-housing Stock 2021-2050, the development of a definition, parameters and content of „Energy Poverty” and the prolongation of the National Programme for Energy Efficiency of the Multi-family Buildings on the basis of new principles for co-financing and selection and with a focus on supporting the low-income households for their participation in the Programme.

Part of the key activities that the organization carried out:

  • Assessment of stipulated mechanisms for support of the participation of low-income and vulnerable households in the process of the renovation of the housing stock in the CEE countries;
  • Research on the existing definitions of “Energy Poverty” in Hungary, Slovakia, and Romania;
  • Survey of municipal officers, non-governmental representatives, and professional house managers on the importance of the improvement of the existing mechanisms of the National Program for Energy Efficiency of the Multi-family Buildings.

Habitat Bulgaria has prepared a number of policy position statements requiring changes in national strategic documents related to the energy renovation of the housing stock, including:

“Our Future Is In Our Hands” by Daniela Yankova Shadowschaser is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Habitat Bulgaria continues its successful partnership with the European Climate Foundation, starting from July 2021 to June 2022. With the second joint project, the organization enriches the advocacy activities for access to energy renovation executed in the first year of the partnership. Habitat Bulgaria will put a strong emphasis on the importance of the European Climate Law and the intermediate goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to at least 55% below 1990 levels by 2030, as well as the role of energy renovation of residential buildings in tackling energy poverty and achieving EU carbon neutrality by 2050.

Habitat Bulgaria will carry out its advocacy activities in the following areas:

  • Energy poverty and socially just differentiated grant support – priority of the low-income and energy-poor households;
  • Advantages of the energy efficiency improvement of the housing stock;
  • Advantages of the adoption of minimum energy performance standards;
  • Carbon pricing, eco-design and energy labelling – advantages and importance.
•   Energy poverty and socially just differentiated grant support – priority of the low-income and energy-poor households

According to the global network of independent experts OpenExp, three European countries are with the highest levels of energy poverty – Bulgaria, Hungary, and Slovakia. The latest edition of the European Domestic Energy Poverty Index (EDEPI) ranks Bulgaria as the country with the highest levels of energy poverty with 0.7 EDEPI, which is defined as extreme. The other two countries have 10-12 times better indicators than Bulgaria, respectively, Hungary with 6.2. EDEPI and Slovakia with 8.4 EDEPI. In contrast, the countries with almost no energy poverty are Sweden with 95.4 EDEPI and Finland with 85.6 EDEPI.

Energy poverty is a situation in which households are unable to access essential energy services. With nearly 34 million Europeans, mostly from the Central and Eastern European countries, unable to afford to keep their homes adequately warm in 2018, energy poverty is a major challenge for the EU. In the same period, Bulgaria is the country with the highest percentage (14.8%) of energy expenditure, as a share of total low-income households’ expenditure.

Energy poverty is a key concept consolidated in the legislative package entitled ‘Clean Energy for All Europeans’, which is designed to facilitate a just energy transition. Under Regulation (EU) 2018/1999 of the European Parliament and of the Council (‘the Governance Regulation’) and the recast Electricity Directive 2019, the Commission is required to provide indicative guidance on appropriate indicators for measuring energy poverty and on the definition of a ‘significant number of households in energy poverty’. There is no standard definition of energy poverty, and it is therefore left to Member States to develop their own criteria according to their national context. In their National energy and climate plans (NECPs), Member States have to assess the number of households in energy poverty. In the event that a Member State finds that it has a significant number of households in energy poverty, it shall include in its plan a national objective as well as policies and measures to reduce energy poverty. So far, Bulgaria has not met these requirements.

Learn more: Bulgaria falls into the category of extreme energy poverty, according to the European Domestic Energy Poverty Index (EDEPI)

•   Advantages of the energy efficiency improvement of the housing stock

A fair transition towards a climate-neutral Union by 2050 is central to the European Green Deal proposed by the Commission in December 2019. A centerpiece of this Green Deal is the Renovation Wave, a major initiative designed to boost the structural renovation of private and public buildings, thereby reducing emissions, boosting recovery and addressing energy poverty. Such structural renovation shall help boost EU efforts in climate change mitigation. For this reason, it has been considered vital that the Renovation Wave and this Recommendation be jointly adopted in order to mutually strengthen the calls to tackle energy poverty and worst-performing buildings.

Next Generation EU confirms the Renovation Wave’s role as one main facilitator of the green recovery. National long-term renovation strategies and other instruments designed to meet the 2030 and 2050 energy efficiency targets should be steered towards protecting energy-poor households and empowering vulnerable energy consumers by helping people save money on energy bills, providing healthier living conditions, and reducing energy poverty. Identifying the households most in need of protection and dwellings most in need of renovation helps in targeting and better managing public interventions, thereby producing practical outcomes for consumers, improving energy efficiency, and minimising any distortions in the functioning of the internal energy market.

Building energy renovation helps 7 million Europeans to overcome energy poverty every year. The environmental, social, and economic benefits amount to 291 billion euros, creating more than 160,000 green jobs in construction sector by 2030.

•    Advantages of the adoption of minimum energy performance standards

In June 2021, the EU adopted a European Climate Law, establishing the aim of reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in the EU by 2050. The law sets intermediate targets of reducing GHG by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, to double the annual rate of renovation of the existing building stock and 35 million buildings to be deeply energy renovated.

The ‘Fit for 55’ package is a set of policy proposals by the European Commission to achieve this 55% reduction target. The package includes a set of changes to existing policies, as well as new measures to reduce emissions. Some of the proposals included are:

  • the strengthening of the emissions reduction targets for each Member State;
  • a revision of the EU emissions trading system (EU ETS), including its extension to shipping, revision of the rules for aviation emissions and establishing a separate emission trading system for road transport and buildings;
  • a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, putting a carbon price on imports of iron and steel, cement, aluminum, fertilizers and electricity;
  • an increase of the target for renewable energy production to 40% by 2030;
  • renovation of at least 3% of the total floor area of all public buildings annually and introduction of mandatory minimum energy performance standards for existing buildings;
  • an update of energy efficiency targets for each Member State to 36-39% by 2030;
  • a revision of the Energy Taxation Directive, introducing an EU-wide minimum tax rate for polluting aviation and shipping fuels;
  • higher CO₂ emission standards for cars and vans, requiring average emissions of new cars to come down by 55% from 2030 and 100% from 2035 compared to 2021 levels;
  • the introduction of an overall EU target for carbon removals by natural sinks, equivalent to 310 million tonnes of CO₂ emissions by 2030.
•  Carbon pricing, eco-design and energy labelling – advantages and importance

EU survey clearly demonstrates that the energy label motivates consumer choice. In an EU-wide survey in 2019, 93% of consumers confirmed that they recognised the label and 79% confirmed that it influenced their decision on what product to buy. The label has also been a major driver for manufacturers to improve their products’ energy performance in order to get a rating in the top categories.

To promote energy efficiency and reduce energy consumption, the EU sets requirements for ecodesign and energy labeling of energy-consuming and energy-related products. The energy labelling requirements for individual product groups are created under the EU’s energy labelling framework regulation, in a process coordinated by the European Commission. 15 product groups require an energy label – Lighting, Heaters, Refrigeration, Vacuum cleaners, Washing machines and driers, Air conditioners and fans, Electronic displays and TV boxes, Kitchen appliances, Pumps, Transformers and converters, Computers and servers, Imaging equipment, Game consoles, Electric motors, Tyres, Off mode, standby and networked standby and Welding equipment.

The European Commission estimates that this package of measures will deliver 167 TWh of final energy savings per year by 2030. This is equivalent to the annual energy consumption of Denmark. These savings correspond to a reduction of over 46.million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. More importantly, through these measures European households save on average 150 EUR per year. These savings come on top of the savings achieved by the existing ecodesign measures and energy labels.

In the gallery below you can see 20 infographics that Habitat Bulgaria has created to present the topic of access to energy renovation.

European Commission:
European Commission: