Have you ever thought that energy efficiency measures can bring about a high number of benefits aside for monetary savings? Did you know that emissions reduction, improved health, better air quality, and new employment opportunities can be a direct result of energy efficiency measures? However, how can one assess and monitor these impacts on local, national, and European level? And how can the collected data be used on multiple benefits of energy efficiency to bring different policy angles into play and develop more comprehensive and integrated sustainability strategies?
19 November 2021 – The European Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation project MICAT – Multiple Impacts Calculation Tool aims to develop a comprehensive approach to estimate Multiple Impacts of Energy Efficiency (MI-EE) by co-creating a free, easy-to-use, scientifically sound online tool (MICATool). The tool will enable policy-makers and practitioners to conduct simplified analyses for different data and policy scenarios, in order to compare and assess the relevance of the multiple impacts, and strengthen reporting and monitoring at the local, national, and European level. The initial predevelopment phase is already taking place as 3 European municipalities have been selected for pilotage.
There is still significant potential to improve energy efficiency in all sectors and on different levels (local, national, EU). While low-hanging fruits have already been picked, closing the “energy efficiency gap” in order to deliver on the European Green Deal and to reach the ambitious targets that Europe set itself for 2030 and 2050 is easier said than done. Studies have highlighted that energy savings are not always sufficient to convince consumers or policy makers in investing in energy efficiency. Broadening the perspective by highlighting non-energy benefits of EE measures and quantifying their additional value could help close this gap and facilitate better energy-relevant decisions and policy-making.
The MICAT tool
But what are these non-energy benefits? Existing literature show that they can be divided into three main categories: social impacts (such as health benefits or poverty alleviation), environmental impacts (such as resource efficiency and reduced GHG emissions) and economic impacts (such as macro-economic impacts on GDP, employment, innovation and competitiveness).
“The MICATool will enable policy-makers and practitioners to conduct simplified analyses for different data and policy scenarios, in order to compare and assess the relevance of the multiple impacts, and strengthen reporting and monitoring at the three governance levels”. – says Dr. Katharina Wohlfarth from Fraunhoffer Institute, the MICAT Project Lead. “By instance. under the reporting on target progress at EU level; for Integrated National Energy and Climate Plans NECP or other reporting requirements at national levels as well as local reporting on energy efficiency within Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans (SECAPs). The learnings and efforts of the MICAT project will definitely help to establish a semi-standardized tool for the evaluation of energy efficiency policies regarding their non-energy impacts.“ – Ms. Wohlfarth adds.
The first workshops at local level
The MICAT tool will be tested on three different levels: local, national and European. On a local level, three MICAT Pilot Cities will help co-design and test the tool: Calvia and Vitoria-Gasteiz in Spain, and Tartu in Estonia, have committed to co-develop and test the MICAT tool over a two-year period – starting in Spring 2021, and lasting until Spring 2023.
The first workshop (out of three on the local level included in the tool development process) with the selected cities representatives has just been finalized. It closes the initial stage of the MICAT tool development process. Each city has invited participants from various administration departments to contribute with their perspectives. Additionally, the workshop saw a broad range of stakeholders from environmental associations, over a regional energy agency, larger local businesses, sectorial business associations, to regional government representatives. “Each city had its own focus. Be it energy efficiency in the tourist sector in Calvia, the growing private sector and energy communities in Tartu, or the alignment with SDG policy frameworks in Vitoria-Gasteiz. The common denominator in all MICAT Pilot Cities is that they are in the process of developing or updating their Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans (SECAPs), making them active contributors to the Covenant of Mayors initiative that promotes local government action on climate change”.– says Niklas Mischkowski, an Officer of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, the organization that contributes to MICAT project development on the local European ground. The outcomes of the first round of workshops were a selection of indicators on multiple impacts that are most relevant to each city SECAP actions and measures planned. Questions related to data use and availability at the city level and how meaningful these data points will be for the MICATool were also discussed during the workshops. From this point, the tool development can enter a more advanced level and a more reflective second round of workshops are envisioned to happen next year.
MICAT development – further steps
After the first round of local level workshops, the MICAT team will turn to the national and EU level. Three workshops will be organized in the three MICAT pilot countries (Germany, Italy and Poland), where important stakeholders such as relevant ministries, Energy Agencies, and category associations will present to the MICAT team their expectations on the tool.
The same will be done at European level, where a workshop will be organized with relevant DGs of the European Commission.
The mock-up version of the MICATool shall incorporate any significant outcomes of recently run consultations with the pilot Cities, pilot Member States and the European Commission and is to be developed already by the end of 2021. Afterwards the tool will be further consulted and validated on local, national, and EU level. The MICAT tool is expected to be fully functional and publicly available in 2023.
MICAT – Multiple Impacts Calculation Tool” rests on a comprehensive approach that links science, policy and stakeholders for estimating multiple impacts of energy efficiency at different levels (local, national and EU). In the next years, MICAT will elaborate a publicly available online tool that can be easily used by a broad group of actors. The tool allows carrying out simplified analyses on the basis of different policy scenarios in order to compare and assess energy efficiency impacts. These assessment methods, to be integrated in the tool, will rely on previous experience and seek to offer a scientifically sound state-of-the art approach for quantifying a broad range of impacts deriving from energy efficiency measures. The dissemination of this tool aims at establishing a culture of assessment of multiple impacts to do justice to the relevance of the topic and to promote it further. It should open up the possibility of connecting the approach with scenario exercises and measure evaluations on EU, national and local level and thereby contributing to closing the energy efficiency gap. The project “MICAT –Multiple Impacts Calculation Tool” is coordinated by Fraunhofer ISI (DE) and implemented together with the European partners: IEECP (NL), Wuppertal Institute (DE), WiseEuropa (PL), E3 Modelling (GR), IIASA (AT) and ICLEI Europe (DE).
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