The Spanish region Extremadura is an autonomous community located at the Portuguese border and renowned both for its incredible environmental biodiversity and rich historical heritage. In order to tackle Extremadura’s energy-related challenges the Extremadura Energy Agency AGENEX was created as a public institution in 2001 with locations in the region’s three main cities.
AGENEX has since become a key figure in the development of Extremadura’s energy sectors, with actions aiming at the promotion of renewable energies, the increase of energy efficiency, and support for energy planning at both regional and local level. To achieve its ambitious objectives, AGENEX has worked under multiple European projects, and most recently as a partner to INNOVATE.
Based on its past experience, AGENEX has identified four types of standard measures improving energy efficiency which it plans to provide for homeowners under the INNOVATE project: Window renovation, improvement of the building envelope, improvement of the HVAC system, and integration of Renewable Energy Facilities in the building. AGENEX has estimated that these measures can reduce energy consumption of households by over 50%.
Currently, the region’s economic situation – still under recovery from the financial crisis – represents a significant barrier to implementing such energy efficiency measures in the private residential sector. When analysing the renovation market in the region, AGENEX found that almost half of Extremadura’s households claim that they cannot cope with unforeseen expenses, making it impossible for them to pay for a potential intervention in their homes.
Providing financing schemes for these households is a major challenge, as the absence of credit opportunities for the development of energy rehabilitation activities in the region does not create a favourable environment. The banking sector is hardly involved with neighbourhood communities that could organise such efficiency actions, and furthermore payment of public loans or grants is only made once the renovation is completed, which means the homeowners still have to carry the full upfront costs.
However, even more important than the financial barriers is the lack of awareness regarding the benefits of energy refurbishments, resulting in a very low interest to invest into energy efficiency among homeowners, even when finance is available. The energy efficiency measures compete with other possible household investments and citizens have a strong tendency to prefer aesthetic over efficiency improvements.
In order to address and overcome these challenges, AGENEX is setting up the One-Stop-Shop Extremadura with support from the regional government and with main offices in both of the region’s provincial capitals: Cáceres and Badajoz – the two largest provinces of Spain. In the initial phase covered by INNOVATE, the One-Stop-Shop’s activities are focused on the renovation of single-family houses and condominiums built before September 2006, when new building regulations entered into force establishing minimum insulation and efficiency requirements. AGENEX has set itself a target to renovate at least 3 important buildings during the project, with an average cost estimated at EUR 15,000 – 25,000 per home.
These renovations must increase the value of the building’s Energy Performance Certificates by at least one level, and will include a minimum of two of the four energy efficiency measures described above. It is the responsibility of the One-Stop-Shop staff to determine the scope and the appropriate measures included in the renovation together with the homeowners, considering their financial capacities. AGENEX thereby places a particular focus on the integration of renewable energies into the buildings.
The main actions that the One-Stop-Shop Extremadura will carry out to reach these targets, is developing energy studies for buildings and ranking offers from different contractors in order to guide the homeowner in the selection of his or her personal best energy solution. The One-Stop-Shop will be equipped with a permanent staff of energy experts to provide such advice to citizens.
In order to build capacities throughout the supply chain, AGENEX is also engaging with the contractors, builders, engineers and architects providing the renovation works through trainings on materials and building techniques to improve energy efficiency. These training courses for builders have already been initiated through REHABILITATE, another EU project, and are available online.
Banks will equally receive trainings to learn how they can identify better financing schemes and develop new financial instruments together with the agency. The plan is to offer homeowners of both single-family houses and condominiums a guarantee fee which incites them to carry out energy retrofits as the loan fees can be paid off through yearly energy savings.
Through its coordination of various regional partners and stakeholders involved in other EU and non-EU projects with similar objectives, AGENEX is creating synergies between entities and projects, for the benefit of Extremadura and its citizens.
Key business partners
To be defined