NKU: EU Energy Efficiency Subsidy Process Inefficient

Prague, July 23 (CTK) – Drawing of European funds for energy efficiency is slow and the approval process is long, with the Czech Republic reporting minimum energy savings at the end of 2017, the Supreme Audit Office (NKU) said.


The NKU checked subsidy distribution of the Czech Industry and Trade Ministry and the Agency for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (API).


Energy efficiency will increase markedly in the coming years with multi-year projects being completed, the ministry said.


The NKU check focused on providing and drawing European money within the Operational Programme Enterprise and Innovations for Competitiveness 2014-2020, which is supposed to help make permanent cuts in energy required in industry.


The European Union has set aside some Kc22bn for the Czech Republic’s energy efficiency for 2014-2020.


“Only 3 percent of the funds, that is some Kc600m, had been drawn at the end of 2017,” the NKU said.


The ministry said that the programme’s allocation is Kc19.4bn.


Roughly Kc740m from the programme has been paid, and aid for 662 projects has been approved, with the subsidy volume amounting to some Kc4bn, ministry spokeswoman Stepanka Filipova said.


Another about 1,500 applications worth Kc6.9bn are being assessed, she added.


Last year, the ministry created a loan fund for energy efficiency to make the drawing process faster, however, no loan has been provided from the fund, the NKU said.


Approval process lasted 404 days on average in 2017, the NKU said adding that it has been getting shorter.


The ministry is trying to shorten the process, Filipova said.


The NKU also looked into costs of reducing energy requirements, and the checked projects revealed that it costs some Kc2,200 to save a gigajoule of energy, while it was originally expected at Kc1,000.


The Czech Republic’s energy consumption savings target was set at 51 petajoules by 2020.


Funds from the Operational Programme Enterprise and Innovations for Competitiveness 2014-2020 were supposed to help achieve the goal, and with the programme’s money alone 20 petajoules of energy was supposed to be saved. However, energy savings reached less than 1 percent of the amount at the end of last year, the NKU said.


Energy efficiency projects are evaluated after they are completed, which is why there will be a significant rise in energy savings in the coming years, the ministry said.


The NKU detected shortcomings of subsidy recipients, concerning for example the selection process. Some defects could be prevented, if the ministry’s check system was more efficient, the NKU said.


The selection process is checked according to an established order, Filipova said.


The European Commission halted the Operational Programme Enterprise and Innovations for Competitiveness for the Czech Republic this year because of a big number of shortcomings.