Spain bets on energy-efficient building plans using EU funds

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Spain update

In the past few days, workers have been dangling on the roof of a residential building in northern Madrid, installing photovoltaic panels so that it can generate electricity on its own.

The wave of EU funding is about to make such activities more common.

The Spanish government is modernizing existing buildings to improve their energy efficiency and thus get rid of the country’s tradition of new buildings. Despite criticisms of investing funds in the construction industry, Spain’s left-wing government expects that nearly one-tenth of the 70 billion euros in grants from the EU’s Emergency Coronavirus Recovery Fund will be used to achieve this ambition.

“Government aid is always risky; it’s like adding a stimulant to the economy,” said Rodrigo Morell, a partner at Creara, who is modernizing in northern Madrid. “But if you want to change quickly, you don’t have much choice.”

As the largest ticket project Spain’s recovery plan, The energy efficiency program will prove whether the country will use the windfall of EU funds to change its economy-or repeat the key test of past mistakes.

The plan-with a budget of 6.8 billion euros for the next three years-will subsidize projects such as providing better insulation, photovoltaic panels and heat pumps in private homes, while also renovating government buildings and constructing new social housing.

The government stated that this is an important step towards the EU’s 2030 goal of combating carbon emissions-more than just a fifth Among them are from people’s homes in Spain-and will also create jobs and skills in the country’s coronavirus-hit economy.

© Angel Garcia/Bloomberg

“This will become one of the main levers of economic recovery,” said Teresa Ribera, Deputy Prime Minister of Spain’s Ministry of Environment, in an interview.

“This is not only important for the environment, but also for the social and economic impact: large-scale housing developments in the 1960s and 1970s were not up to standards in terms of efficiency and material use,” she added, and believes that the plan will Help reduce the burden on the family. Energy bills.

But critics say the plan is a manifestation of an old bad habit-the Spanish economy relies on construction as an engine of growth, rather than more productive investments.

Before the financial crisis, the industry was a less secret force in the economy, making significant contributions to bank and corporate profits and taxation. In 2004, the state established More than a house France, Germany and Italy merge. But after the accident, Spain left billions of euros in non-performing loans, half of the completed complex, and tens of thousands of workers whose construction skills could not be used.

Luis Garicano, a member of the European Parliament of the Liberal Ciudadanos Party, is worried that the plan is too big and that by focusing on the construction industry, it may create jobs, skills and economic bubbles.

“My concern is that we have a huge bottleneck in these specific construction skills related to building restoration,” he said. “We will train many people with skills that will become obsolete after they complete the training.”

Eduardo Brunet, CEO of Greenward Partners, stated that the company’s goal is to invest 500 million euros in improving the energy efficiency of buildings over the next five years. He added that tax incentives and more A clear regulatory framework will be more effective than subsidies.

“Basically, they put 6.8 billion euros in a status quo that clearly doesn’t work,” he said. “If we want to achieve different goals, we must think in different ways.”

But the government argues that the next two or three years are designed to detonate the process of change and innovation that will eventually take longer.

Ribera said: “This is the first shot, but it is very powerful. The EU’s resources allow us to speed up the projects we already have.” “This will certainly not end in 2023 or 2024.”

Joan Groizard, director of the Spanish National Energy Diversity Institute, who has been closely involved in the plan, believes that the demand for the plan is overwhelming.Spain Severely lagging The renovation rate of other EU countries, although more than 80% of its building stock consumes a lot of energy, the energy classification is E or worse.

“The driving force of the economy is no longer the construction of new buildings,” he said. “This is almost the creation of a new economic sector, transforming the construction sector into a sector focused on building restoration… If we look at 2050 [when the EU wants to reach net zero emissions] By then, most of the buildings will be buildings that already exist. “

The investment demand is huge. The government estimates that the modernization of Spanish buildings before 2030 will require a total of 40 billion euros. Groizard believes that the new subsidies will provide people with incentives for insulation or other work, because these improvements may become mandatory in the future.

He and Ribeira hope that banks and energy companies can also step up to provide funds for modernization-and the one-stop consulting service will help people make improvements.

Ribera said: “Things have to be simple, there needs to be an economic incentive to activate the mentality of millions of owners.” “But a country that invented a mortgage system that promoted the construction boom should be able to do something similar to promote all of this. The reconstruction process.”

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