How can we unlock energy investment opportunities at the local level? Lesson learnt from Bristol use of ELENA

  • environment
  • mobility

In the framework of the Covenant of Mayors webinar of last 27 April on “ELENA - European Local Energy Assistance: Inspiration from successful projects” Mareike Schmidt, Service Manager for Energy at Bristol City Council has identified a series of useful lessons learnt from their use of the EIB technical assistance.

What is ELENA?
ELENA is a joint initiative by the European Investment Bank and the European Commission. ELENA provides to cities grants for technical assistance focused on the implementation of energy efficiency, distributed renewable energy and urban transport projects and programmes. Typically, ELENA supports programmes above EUR 30 million over a period of around 2-4 years, and can cover up to 90% of technical assistance/project development costs.
As a result of ELENA grant funding, Bristol City Council has delivered thousands of insulation measures on social and private housing, hundreds of solar PV panels on municipal buildings and kick-started the development of the city’s Heat Network. This large-scale programme, called BRITE, has seen over £50m of investment over the last three years and laid strong foundations for Bristol to be on track to be carbon neutral by 2050.
Which suggestions for cities willing to apply for an ELENA?
Mareike has identified a number of points that each local and/or regional authority should consider when developing investment programmes with support from ELENA:
  1. Cross-party support at the local level to ensure long-term strategic planning. It is often helpful to run workshops with the political and administrative leadership to scope out what they would like to achieve in practical terms and to shape the desired outcomes and outputs from the start.    
  2. Good project and programme management including prioritisation of investment opportunities. Given that cities often have a diverse range of priorities for their investment programmes ranging from combatting fuel poverty through to job creation and achieving carbon saving targets, it is important to prioritise investments according to financial appraisals and size to achieve the required leverage factor.
  3. Bundling projects and programmes to achieve scale. This is particularly important for small and medium sized cities as projects and programmes focused on the latest renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies are often smaller and therefore more time-consuming to deliver.
  4. Good partnership with the European Investment Bank as the ELENA grant manager. This is helpful as it allows local authorities to get feedback on pipeline development and investment appraisals.
  5. Collaboration with partners at all levels to increase the pipeline of works. Local councils can quickly become enablers for large-scale developments and increase their reputation as trusted partners for infrastructure projects.
  6. Sustainable business models to ensure that energy investment would continue to be delivered beyond the ELENA programme delivery period
Watch the recording from the webinar on the Covenant of Mayors website    

EUROCITIES staff contact

Anja Katalin De Cunto