The 6th Expert Mission took place in Extremadura, Spain at the regional energy agency AGENEX. The mission was conducted by expert Seamus Hoyne.
Agenex is the regional energy agency in Extremadura, Spain. A highly experienced Agency, currently, with a staff of 26 it is pioneering the use of financial instruments to deliver sustainable energy investments in the region. The region has a population of 1.1m with a mix of cities, large towns and rural areas – thus presenting challenges for the Agency to respond to the demands in the region. The Agency has an extensive network of stakeholders within the region and utilises a range of funds from EU programmes (H2020, Interreg etc.) to enable it to deliver on its goals.
The primary focus of the Expert Mission was to engage with the Agency staff seeking to implement a Guarantee Fund which will support retrofitting of multi-family homes in the region. The Agency has been successful in securing approval to establish a Guarantee Fund using Regional Operational funds and is now aiming to implement actions with the support of this fund. Extensive discussions were held with relevant staff on the challenges and opportunities this initiative presents. Topics covered include the engagement of building owners, financial projections and returns, how contracts and financing will be structured, the role of ESCOs and installers and the role of banks/financial institutions.
In the framework of the Horizon 2020 HousEEnvest project a workshop was held with a wide array of stakeholders (banks, fund operators, local/regional authorities, building managers, installers etc.) to consider the implementation and use of the Guarantee Fund. Group work techniques were used to address topics related to technical solutions, financing and guarantee funds and how to engage different types of building owners. The workshop participants were very engaged and there was excellent debate and discussion on the topics covered.
The final day of the Mission focused on the topics of behaviour change/behavioural economics and strategic planning. In the context of a number of initiatives which the Agency is leading best practice on behaviour change/behavioural economics was shared and detailed discussions held on approaches to dealing with different types of stakeholders and partners. Planning for the future development of the Agency was covered with the senior management team with opportunities being explored for new service development, structures within the Agency and longer term strategic planning, for example in the context of One Stop Shops.
The Agenex agency is an example of a dedicated team of professionals engaged in driving the energy transition in their region. Through excellent use of European funding programmes combined with strong engagement with regional stakeholders it is delivering real value to the region. The balancing of the demands of EU Projects with regional priorities is a challenge but there are opportunities for the Agency to further expand its range of services and activities into the future.