CHF 190 million for a sustainable energy policy

Article, 18.03.2014

Switzerland is supporting a sustainable energy policy in six partner countries with around CHF 190 million from its enlargement contribution. In Estonia, for example, the contribution is being used to make the design of three preschools and a home for the elderly more energy efficient. Four Estonian communities showcased their building projects on 14 March 2014. In February 2014, Switzerland approved a project to institutionalise the energy city label in Romania.

Child on a bike in front of the school building in Rakvere
The school building in Rakvere was built in the Soviet era. This small city in the north of Estonia is now converting the building into a modern preschool with low energy consumption. Thanks to the renovations sponsored by Switzerland, the amount of energy used by the preschool has been reduced by some 60%. In total, the four new energy-efficient buildings provide for an annual CO2 saving of 45 tonnes. © SECO

Switzerland promotes energy-efficient building and the use of renewable energies in Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia, Romania and Hungary. It invests almost CHF 190 million from the enlargement contribution. Switzerland is also committed to energy efficiency out of self-interest, as climate change does not stop at a country's borders.

Saving energy in Estonian preschools

For example, Estonia has developed building standards for the construction of energy-efficient buildings with funds from the enlargement contribution. Switzerland is currently supporting the construction of four buildings with low energy consumption in four of the country's municipalities. Two preschools are being renovated in Rakvere and Haapsalu, and two energy-efficient buildings – a preschool in Lasva and a home for the elderly in Väätsa – are also being constructed. With their low energy consumption, these buildings offer improved living conditions, and help reduce heating costs and greenhouse gas emissions. On 14 March 2014, a conference took place in Rakvere at which the municipality showcased its building projects and experts discussed how to promote energy efficiency. Public buildings in Estonia currently use 20-30% more energy than other EU countries with a similar climate, and there are only a few energy efficiency specialists in the country. Exchanging experiences at seminars is therefore particularly important.

Energy city or European energy award in Romania

Switzerland is supporting the sustainable use of energy in towns and cities in Romania with up to CHF 40 million. Following the call for candidates in July 2011, the four towns of Arad, Brasov, Cluj-Napoca and Suceava were chosen from the 23 interested cities. Each of the four towns received a grant to introduce the Swiss concept of the energy city, also known as the European energy award, which consisted of comprehensively reviewing the towns' energy-related activities and creating a sustainable energy action plan (SEAP). This then resulted in the first-stage approval of ten priority energy-related infrastructure projects in the four cities in July 2013. These projects – which still need to be fully approved in 2014 – include increasing the efficiency of district heating systems, introducing LED street lighting, making schools more energy efficient, promoting electromobility and procuring electric buses. Switzerland also approved a sum of CHF 350,000 to found an association to sponsor Romania's energy cities. This association would also be responsible for ensuring that the European energy award gains a foothold in other parts of Romania beyond the four pilot cities.