Structural funds used for energy efficient SMEs in Sweden

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in Sweden has been an important tool to support the shift to a low-carbon economy. Put together, 18 % of all the Swedish ERDF regional allocations support the thematic objective “Low-carbon economy”. This means that of the total 800 MEUR, approximately 200 MEUR are allocated to the Thematic Objective 4 (TO4).

One special feature for Sweden is that for the promotion of energy efficiency in SMEs in accordance with the Energy Efficiency Directive, a national programme financed through the ERDF was launched in 2015. The programme supports energy audits, networking activities and capacity building. In the national ERDF programme, TO4 was allocated 77 MEUR and the Swedish regional energy agencies are an important partner to implement the programme. Two projects have been created on the national level that are implemented by the regional energy agencies in all the Swedish regions.

Examples from the national programme

In the project “Regional nodes for energy efficiency” the energy agencies assist SMEs with both administration and financial support so that they can implement an energy audit. The national goal of the project is to make sure that at least 1 190 SMEs apply for an energy audit and implement suggested actions – to become more energy efficient and increase their competitiveness. The project target group are SMEs with an annual energy consumption with either at least 300 MWh or 100 animal units. The overall budget for the first phase was approximately 3,2 MEUR.

In the project “Networks for Energy Efficiency”, the agencies work to overcome the energy efficiency gap that is a result of SME with an energy consumption of >1GWh/year, industries, in particular, not working towards becoming energy efficient. To tackle the lack of knowledge, time and capital, regional networks are established in order to facilitate the SMEs systematical and structural work towards becoming energy efficient. The overall budget for the first phase was approximately 9,1 MEUR.

Coaches for Energy and Climate is a national initiative that combines coaching and knowledge transfer between participating companies. This will provide your company with valuable tools to improve energy efficiency. The project is time-limited and will run until 2019. The participation in the program is free of charge and funded by the Swedish Energy Agency through the European Regional Development Fund. The key idea is that SMEs with a small energy demand (below 300 MWh per year) are an important part of the economy which have together an important share of the energy demand. However, they face difficulties in getting any support in energy efficiency – not enough to earn for bigger consultancy companies and not enough staff to have time to go for courses in energy efficiency. The project develops new instruments of energy consultancy for this group of companies and helps them to grow and extend (using the saved money for other stuff). The added value is clear: mobilising private money for investment and growth and contributing to the EU energy and climate targets. The overall budget for the first phase was approximately 9,2 MEUR.

An example from East Central Sweden

In East Central Sweden, the TO4 allocation is 24 %. One of the projects financed by the programme is Energy Efficient Enterprises in East Central Sweden, a cooperation between the regional energy agencies in the region. The agencies work together to decrease the carbon footprint and to increase the competitiveness of the businesses. The core of the project is to integrate the energy efficiency measures and strategies in business planning through a palette of activities: energy counselling, network meetings, seminars, how to use the added value in marketing and communication, capacity building on different organisational levels (human resources) etc. The goal is to have at least 200 participating SMEs that implement or plan to implement energy efficiency measures during the project period. The overall budget for the project is 900 000 EUR.

Added value: Results from an interim evaluation of the Swedish ERDF-programme

According to an interim evaluation 2015-2017 commissioned by the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth, TO4 within the Swedish ERDF is likely to support the shift to a low-carbon economy. This conclusion is largely based on: a) the overall relevance of the programme theory and b) the close interconnection between the project portfolio and the intervention logic. The evaluation shows that TM4 offers an added value in relation to existing policies at the national and regional level.

The program areas offer something else than what is usually financed through the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth, the Swedish Energy Agency and the Regional Growth Supporting Measures. The evaluation finds no direct overlaps between the national agencies regular portfolio and the Swedish ERDF programme, for example, concerning energy services and networks for energy efficiency. Furthermore, officials from several regions consider that the Swedish ERDF creates added value in the following respects:

  • TO4 has led to a higher level of ambition among regional players in the field of energy and climate.
  • The program has given a clear signal that the transition to a low-carbon economy should be a priority.
  • New stakeholders have begun working on the issues in a different and innovative manner.