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Regulators and Agencies for Energy Conservation to work hand in hand towards regional cooperation and sustainable energy transition
23 November 2017
Brussels, Belgium

On 23 November, together with the Mediterranean Association of the National Agencies for Energy Conservation (MEDENER), MEDREG held a workshop at the European Parliament in Brussels to discuss how they can step up their cooperation with coordinated actions that concretely promote sustainable energy in the Mediterranean.

Participants to the workshop included Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), high representatives of the European Commission (DG NEAR and DG ENER), representatives of the Algerian, Lebanese, Moroccan and Tunisian Ministries and Energy Conservation Agencies as well as energy stakeholders such as the Union for the Mediterranean, MED-TSO,  ENEL and EDF among others energy stakeholders.

Both active players in the Energy Platforms of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), the two organisations drew parallels between their initiatives and demonstrated the complementarity of their activities in fostering renewables energy and energy efficiency in the Mediterranean.

Ms Ines Ayala Sender, Member of the European Parliament and President of the Delegation for relations with the Maghreb countries opened the workshop calling for a strengthened cooperation between the North and South shores of the Mediterranean and for a better coordination of decisions among the countries.

MEP Ivan Jakovcic too called for a better coordination between the North and the South and stated that EU decision makers should choose the regions benefiting from EU funding for RES projects in the light of their RES potential (wind, sun, etc). He also underlined the link between Renewable energies and sustainable tourism calling for a closer integration between the two.

Mr Michael A. Köhler, Director of Neighbourhood South at DG NEAR from the European Commission, mentioned the European External Investment Plan about to be launched which aims at fostering local private and foreign investment. Mr Köhler explained that the plan is meant to mobilise public funds in order to incentivise private investors.
He qualified the Mediterranean of “Eldorado of the Renewable energies”, referring to and commended a manifesto signed in 2017 by a coalition of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) entitled “A sustainable & interconnected Mediterranean region” . The manifesto which provides recommendations to drive the energy transition into Mediterranean countries for a sustainable and prosperous future.
Mr Köhler stressed the need to take a long term approach when defining and implementing the energy transition, addressing technology, innovation, finance, market incentives and regulation while creating jobs and social development locally.

Ms. Anne-Charlotte Bournoville, Head of Unit, International Relations and Enlargement at DG ENER, (European Commission) recalled that MEDREG and MEDENER are two major stakeholders within the UfM Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Platform (UfM REEE Platform) and the Regional Electricity Market Platform (UfM REM Platform), calling for synergies between them. She stated that the energy efficiency is still taking a back seat in the Mediterranean and that the UfM REEE platform could allow the maximisation of the effect of Energy Efficiency. She made a concrete proposal and informed that policies for energy efficient products will be in the agenda of the next UfM REEE Platform meeting in January, to develop a common energy policy in this area, tackling in particular air conditioning which is a huge source of energy consumption.

Mr. Dario Chello, MEDENER President, acknowledged this proposal, stating that MEDENER was already working on a new project addressing energy efficiency of air conditioning and defining product labelling with their partner based in Cairo, the Regional Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (RCREEE).

Mr. Jorge Borrego, Deputy Secretary General for Energy, Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean stated that the UfM energy platforms offered a good space for cooperation but should involve civil society, the energy business, manufacturers, service providers and public partners who so far are missing.
He also underlined the huge potential for RES and energy efficiency in the Mediterranean which is  not fully exploited as well as the key opportunity to avoid mistakes learning from the EU experience. He added that infrastructure, interconnectivity and securing access to energy to communities and businesses was key. To do so, the UfM platforms could provide a space to find energy systems and concepts to merge and adapt,  regulating and bringing the benefits of decentralised energy, stated Mr Borrego.  He also recommended that a common criteria to choose Project of Common Interest (PCI) be developed in order to have a sound basis to identify them and to attract promotors.

Mr. Fabio Tambone, MEDREG  General Coordinator presented MEDREG’s approach to Guarantees of Origin Systems in the Mediterranean region, providing the example of Algeria and Egypt which have both introduced this scheme as a way of tracking and guaranteeing that a given share or quantity of energy was produced from renewable sources.

The Moroccan Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Sustainable Development, represented by Mr. Boubker Chatre, Head for RES and Energy Efficiency, demonstrated how Ministry works hand in hand with the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy and for Energy Efficiency (MASEN) as well as with the National Office of Electricity and Drinkable Water (ONEE) which acts as the transport and distribution system operator, to deliver coherent RES and energy efficiency policies, regulations and projects responding to the carbon free energy transition. In addition, it was underlined that following the regulatory reforms adopted in 2015 and the ambitious RES target set by the Government to achieve 52% by 2030, the Moroccan renewable energy sector had attracted significant private investments in the absence of public financial incentives. The main challenge which remains to be tacked is who will be responsible to back-up the intermittence of the energy supply, said Mr Chatre.

Represented by Dr. Sorina Mortada, the Lebanese Centre for Energy Conservation which acts as the  technical arm of the Ministry for Energy efficiency and RES policies, provided an insight of the country’s active policies in these areas, giving examples of concrete projects such as solar PV installation in public buildings, minimum performance standards for energy consumption of products and financial incentive enabling energy savings and the uptake of RES infrastructure.

Mr Mustapha Nebli, speaking on behalf of Tunisian Energy Agency, explained that Tunisia had engaged in an energy management policy to reduce the rate of consumption growth and energy demand by 30% by 2020 in building, industry and transport while fighting unemployment.
Mr Nebli added that energy transition towards lower carbon economy is a priority for Tunisia on social and economic dimensions, and is part of a national debate.

Mr. Nicolò Di Gaetano, Chair of the MEDREG Institutional Working Group, presented MEDREG’s National Reforms Initiatives. He focused on the ones which aims at designing and implementing regulation to promote the use of RES and increasing energy efficiency.

Mr. Massimiliano Calamea, Head of European Institutional Affairs and Communication at Enel, stated that RES is currently the cheapest source of generation. He recalled that northern African countries have implemented good regulatory frameworks enabling massive investments.  He agreed too that investment in RES infrastructure could and should be coupled with economic and social developments. He also mentioned that ENEL sees the potential of an interconnection between Italy and Tunisia as Italy over produces and Tunisian needs more energy for its consumption.

As a final conclusion, Mr Tambone, MEDREG General Secretary, stated that through these different cooperation layers, the Mediterranean could indeed become that “pilot region” capable of benefitting the most from the energy transition that awaits us.

Find out more about the event in the presentations, the agenda and the Press Release.

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