The 7th Steering Group meeting of the Priority Area 2 (PA2) was held in Budapest on 17December 2013 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Hungary. Representatives from the Danube countries and the European Commission (DG ENER and DG REGIO) joined the event. During the one-day meeting, the progress and the results of the ongoing concepts of the PA2 were presented and discussed the next steps of these initiatives.
In her progress report, Ambassador Anita Orbán, Priority Area Coordinator stressed the usefulness of the Danube Region Gas Market Model that was also confirmed by the final Projects of Common Interest (PCI) list accepted by the EU.
The Danube Region Biomass Action Plan revealed that there is a huge potential for solid biomass in the region. The action plan recommends that a harmonized, uniform statistical biomass database should be created to promote macro-regional project implementation. Also, an online demo project database was launched with the aim of collecting best practice biomass projects from the region.
As part of the PA2’s Smart Grid Concept, a ‘Regional workshop on Smart Grid Deployment in the Danube Region’ was held in Brussels on 18 November 2013 with the participation of experts from 14 countries. The aim of the workshop was to assess the demand for smart grid solutions in the region. Based on desktop research and inputs of the workshop, the Danube Region Smart Grid Assessment Report was put together and presented to the Steering Group. The report has shown that Danube countries have different drivers and incentives for smart grids, but emphasis should be put on regulatory issues and the role of Distribution System Operators (DSOs). The Steering Group agreed to organize a workshop that would deal with the regulatory aspects of smart grid systems and obstacles in front of further investments.
The Steering Group was informed about current developments of the Danube Region Geothermal Concept. During the November 2013 Danube Region Geothermal Workshop in Budapest, the extensive geothermal potential of the region was highlighted and the geothermal project concept was further discussed. The concept will be modified based on the inputs of the workshop and circulated among project partners in January 2014 in order to finalize the document. Based on this, a detailed project proposal will be put together in the first half of 2014 with the aim to prepare the project for application to open calls of the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financing Framework in the second half of the year.
The Annual Conference on 19 March 2014 will focus on the EU’s 2030 climate and renewable goals in the context of the macro-region. A seminar is planned in Stockholm on 2 April 2014 with the participation of the Energy Priority Areas of the Danube Region Strategy and the Baltic Sea Region Strategy to share knowledge and experiences. Representatives of the future Adriatic and Ionian Strategy will also be invited.
The Energy Priority Area and the Geological and Geophysical Institute of Hungary co-organized a one-day workshop focused on the development of the Danube Region Geothermal Concept (DanReGeotherm) in Budapest on 28 November 2013.
The aim of the event was to present the geothermal potential of the region and to discuss the project concept that will be further developed based on the feedbacks received from the participants. The finalized project will be submitted for funding in the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework.
The main output of the foreseen macro-regional project will be a uniform and transparent pool of geothermal database for the entire Danube region which will contain all necessary geological and geothermal data, as well as information on the regulatory, economic, social and environmental aspects of geothermal utilization in the DRS countries.
The workshop was organized with the participation of 19 institutions representing 10 Danube region countries. In the morning session the participants received detailed information about the Danube Region Strategy, the Danube Region Geothermal Concept, the INSPIRE (establishing an infrastructure for spatial information in Europe) directive and the financing possibilities of the project. In the afternoon session the participants briefly presented the geothermal profile of their countries and then discussed the project concept with each other. Based on these inputs, the concept will be further developed and sent to the Danube countries for consideration by the beginning of next year.
Click here for the country profiles and please find the agenda & presentations below:
The first ‘Regional workshop on Smart Grid Deployment in the Danube Region’ was held in Brussels on 18 November 2013 at the premises of the European Commission and the Permanent Representation of Hungary to the EU, with the participation of experts from 14 countries, most of them from the Danube Region. The event was co-organized by the Energy Priority Area of the Danube Region Strategy and the Directorate-General for Energy with the support of the State Government of Baden-Württemberg and the Regional Centre for Energy Policy Research (REKK).
The aim of this kick-off discussion was to assess the demand for smart grid solutions in the Danube Region countries by exchanging information on smart grid development experiences and also to launch a discussion amongst key players of the Danube countries on this topic with key importance. Participants of the workshop had the opportunity to receive up-to-date information from the European Commission and leading experts of this field and also to identify potential areas of common interest. The role of the Danube Region Strategy was to facilitate this process by providing a platform for discussion.
The workshop was organised in the context of the Danube Region Smart Grid Concept, which, apart from this workshop, will result in a smart grid assessment report being finalized by the end of 2013, mapping out the existing status and future plans for smart grid deployment in the Danube Region countries.
Outcomes and results of this event as well as the assessment report will be introduced first to the Steering Group Meeting of the Energy Priority Area to be held in Budapest on 17 December 2013.
The Danube Region Geothermal Concept, elaborated by the Priority Area and approved by the Steering Group, will be presented and discussed in a one-day workshop on the 28th November 2013 in Budapest, hosted by the Geological and Geophysical Institute of Hungary. The event will focus on the finalization of the project concept and the establishment of the project consortium. The participants will also receive information about the INSPIRE directive (establishing an infrastructure for spatial information in Europe) and the financing possibilities for the concept in the new Multi-Annual Framework 2014-2020.
Chief Advisor István Joó presented the results and on-going activities of the Energy Priority Area at the 2nd Annual Forum of the EUSDR
The 2nd Annual Forum of the Danube Region Strategy of the European Union took place in Bucharest, 28-29 October 2013. The Forum highlighted the great potential in the Strategy and strengthened the need for cooperation to increase the competitiveness of the region. After the first euphoric period, the Strategy needs to take concrete actions according to Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner for Regional Policy. The Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Titus Corlatean in his closing speech underlined that the Forum helped to see more clearly the necessary steps in front of the countries to help the implementation of the Strategy in the 2014-2020 period. The main conclusion was well emphasised by the motto of the Forum: “Stronger together, stronger in the world”.
In the “Connected Danube Region” workshop of the Annual Forum István Joó, Chief Advisor to the Priority Area Coordinator presented the results and on-going activities of the Energy Priority Area (PA2). As he highlighted, Central Europe is lagging behind in energy market integration objectives laid down by the European Council in 2011 and the fragmented markets and high energy prices are substantial barriers that prevent the region to be more competitive, as well as to attract large scale investments.
The Chief Advisor also stressed that the Strategy gives the Region new possibilities to change this situation by boosting the market integration especially in new Member States. Harmonizing energy laws, enhancing the realization of the missing infrastructure developments and sharing best practices are the most important measures that can be promoted and facilitated by the Danube Region Strategy – according to the Chief Advisor.
The concrete results of already completed concepts and ongoing initiatives of the PA2 were also introduced by Mr Joó. As he stressed The Danube Region Gas Market Model was able to create a joint position of the countries on the most critical gas infrastructure development projects eventually to be financed by EU sources. The European Commission highly appreciated the new macro-regional approach and took the opinion of the DRS countries into consideration as it was clearly reflected in the final list of Projects of Common Interest. By implementing these projects, said Mr Joó, we will have cheaper energy prices in the Region that will result in more competitiveness and finally more jobs.
The first-of-its kind Danube Region Gas Storage Analysis took the macro-regional approach in order to evaluate whether more gas storage investments are needed for the Danube Region. As the Chief Advisor of the Energy Priority Area underlined, the analysis clearly showed that the region already has sufficient and also substantial unused storage capacities. In this regard, the work of PA2 inspired the countries of the DRS to start a joint thinking on the smart use of already available capacities.
The Strategy has created a new platform for sharing best practices with non-EU countries. The training program of PA2 in the Republic of Moldova gave practical assistance to the country on the implementation of the EU’s energy law by involving the best experts and introducing the practices of the Danube countries – according to István Joó.
As he outlined, there are several on-going concepts of the PA2 in the field of biomass, geothermal energy, smart grid and energy efficiency for public building. Some of the results are expected already this year.
The Steering Group of PA2 approved the Danube Region Strategy Biomass Action Plan at its 5th Steering Group Meeting in December, 2012. The aim of the Action Plan is to investigate the biomass potential, current use, the legal framework and regulatory environment of biomass utilization of the Danube countries through a research study covering the entire Danube Region. Based on the results, the Action Plan intends to create synergies and coordination between existing policies and initiatives of countries in the Region in order to extend the sustainable use of biomass. The Biomass Action Plan will also contain policy recommendations for effective biomass utilization. Additionally, the good practice biomass projects of the Danube region countries are collected and presented in an electronic database.
During the preparation of the Biomass Action Plan, the countries of the Danube Region unanimously accepted a joint declaration on biomass sustainability at the 6th Steering Group Meeting of the PA2 in June, 2013, stating among others that the countries of the Danube Region Strategy do not see an urgent need to develop additional sustainability criteria for solid biomass on EU level.
The demo project database and the declaration can be viewed at the following link:
Ambassadors at large for energy security Anita Orbán from Hungary and Vacláv Bartuska from the Czech Republic published a joint opinion article in the Washington Post about the liberalization of American gas export. The article presents the argument that US LNG export would benefit the American economy and at the same time strengthen the energy security of Central Europe. American gas export would create gas to gas competition in the region while diversifying the supply source and the supply route as well. Read the full article here.
The Energy Priority Area is organizing a Regional Workshop on Smart Grid Development to assess the demand for smart grids in the Danube region, identify fields of common interest and to share best practices. Countries that are more advanced in their grid transformation can share their experiences with those that are still ahead of the process. The workshop is organized in the framework of the Danube Region Smart Grid concept and builds on the participation of Transmission System Operators (TSO), Distribution System Operators (DSO), Regulatory Agencies of Danube countries and European Commission experts. The workshop intends to pave a way towards cooperation in the field of smart grids in the Danube macro-region. The event will take place in Brussels on 18th November, 2013 and registration is open until 4th October.
The involvement of the non-EU countries to the Danube Region Strategy is a key priority within the macro-regional cooperation. Therefore the Priority Area 2 launched a tailor made training program, to offer knowledge transfer and experience of the EU countries to the non-EU Danube Region countries. As the first beneficiary of the training program, the Republic of Moldova was chosen because of its specific situation. After a promising Fact Finding Mission in Chisinau in January 2013, where the PA2 experienced a high interest from the Moldovan side and the main topics were discussed, the training program was ready to go.
The first Workshop in Chisinau on 26-28 February, 2013 already showed the relevance and high professional standards of the training program, that was only strengthened during the second and third Workshops on 26-28 March and 27-29 May respectively. The PA2 received a positive feedback from the Moldovan partners, and the good reputation of the training program was also spreading. At a Danube Region Strategy conference on the 9th of July, 2013, Commissioner Günther Oettinger mentioned the PA2 training program as a good example of involving non-EU countries to the European processes.
The knowledge transfer training programs of the Priority Area 2 shows the essentials of the macro-regional cooperation by involving 18 experts from several European countries. These speakers represented different fields and organizations (European Commission, Energy Community, national Regulators, DSOs, TSOs). All the Workshops took place with the active participation of the representatives and lead experts of the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Moldova, the Regulatory Authority of Moldova (ANRE), local TSOs, DSOs and suppliers (both electricity and gas).
As the main aim of these training programs was to help the implementation of the 3rd EU Energy Package in Moldova, several topics were discussed regarding this question with almost 30 presentations:
Independence, tasks, responsibilities and necessary statutory powers of the Regulator,
regional market building possibilities,
cross-border capacity calculation and congestion management,
unbundling (requirements on separation activities of TSO and DSO,designation and certification procedure of TSOs, practical examples),
general customer protection,
service quality regulation,
end-user switching process,
The Priority Area 2 is planning a 4th Workshop in Chisinau before the summer break, which is going to take place on 29-30 July, 2013 with the planned agenda of mainly regulatory and grid connection questions (monitoring of the regulated activities, enforcement of the regulations, the responsibilities of different players for grid connection, dispute settlement regarding network connection, small customers’ self-electricity generation, connection costs, etc.). The Priority Area 2 will be represented by Advisor Szilvia Nagy.
Regarding the positive feedback and beneficial effect of the training programs the PA2 is expecting to continue the workshops in Moldova, as well as planning to extend it to other Danube countries.
The Energy Priority Area has been working on ways to tackle the issue of gas market integration and gas storage optimisation in the Danube Region. The Danube Region Gas Storage Analysis builds upon the results of the Danube Region Gas Market Model in order to present the best use of the available capacity.
The study has revealed that the Danube Region as a whole has sufficient storage capacity but with uneven distribution across countries. At the current state, there is 4 bcm unused capacity in the region. As markets become more interconnected storage can be substituted partly by other means of flexibility that is new interconnectors. Further investments into storage would only increase the unused capacity. As an exception, , taking into account the social welfare analysis of the study, the need for Moldovan storage investments is justified.
As a result, the Energy Priority Area concluded that a better use of existing storage capacities need to be encouraged by regional cooperation of member countries before new investment projects. In order to overcome the existing mistrust amongst countries when security of supply is ensured by facilities outside the territory of the given state, governments or regulatory agencies should find incentives or provide insurance for parties that the regional cooperation will not be harmed in any type of crisis situation, and shall provide contractual assurance for reliable delivery.
Priority Area 2 of the EUSDR organized a knowledge-transfer type pilot project to the representatives of the Hungarian Ministry of National Development in 4-5 July, 2013 to Baden-Württemberg. The aim of the field trip was to study the practice of ESCO financing through discussions with energy-efficiency experts from the State Government of Baden-Württemberg and the city of Stuttgart.
The participants have met with the representatives of KEA Energy Agency, Ministry of Finance and Economics of Baden-Württemberg, WISAG, Department for Environment Protection of Stuttgart and the State Ministry of Baden-Württemberg.
The study tour proved to be a very successful experience, the participants received thorough presentations on the topic, gained an insight and had the opportunity to exchange views about the ESCO-financing scheme put into practice in the southwestern state of Germany.
Based on the positive feedbacks of this event, Priority Area 2 is ready to organize further knowledge-sharing activities with other participants involved.
On behalf of Priority Area 2, Szilárd Árvay attended the final conference of the Central European Programme funded GovernEE project: “Energy Efficient buildings: even more important in times of economical crisis?” organized by the city of Hódmezővásárhely on 3 July 2013. The primary purpose of the event was to highlight the challenges the EU and Hungary are facing in the field of energy efficiency and how European projects and GovernEE in particular, are giving an answer to this question.
Mr Árvay presented the Danube Region Strategy in general, the gap between the EU2020 energy-efficiency targets and the projected data, emphasized the energy saving potential of public buildings, listed the initiatives of Priority Area 2 in this field, shortly informed the audience about the services offered by the Budapest Danube Contact Point and the Danube Transnational Progamme being in preparation.
On behalf of Priority Area 2, Szilárd Árvay attended the final event of the Central European Program funded Transenergy project: “Recommendations on the sustainable utilization of deep geothermal in the centre of the Danube Region” organized by the lead partner, the Geological Survey of Austria on 24 June 2013 in Vienna.
The conference summarized the concept of Transenergy and outlined the results of the three-year long project by providing recommendations for a sustainable management of transboundary hydrogeothermal resources at cross-border pilot areas. The project partners agreed that the lessons learned in the Transenergy project should be utilized when extending the concept to a greater geographical area, as a first step, to the Danube Region.
Mr Árvay has discussed the initiative of Priority Area 2 to implement the Transenergy concept on Danube Region level with the project partners and the representatives of the Central Europe Programme.
On behalf of Priority Area 2 Chief Advisor István Joó will attend the conference titled “Towards a low carbon economy in the Danube Region: State of affairs, challenges and prospects” organized by Southeast Europe Association on 9 July 2013 in Brussels. Mr Joó will present the activities of Priority Area 2 in the Danube Region Strategy.
The conference will discuss the dynamics and direction of EU and global clean energy a climate policy targets, the dominant energy characteristics of the Danube Region and problems of proceeding to a low carbon economy. Overcoming existing deadlocks for meeting these targets will also be presented, as well as providing energy security for the region. Learning from best practices can benefit the region and business opportunities deriving from the redirection of energy policies could boost development in the field of energy. The role of the EUSDR in the above processes will be discussed as well.
The 6thSteering Group (SG) Meeting of the Priority Area 2 was held on the 13th of June in Budapest at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Besides representatives of Danube countries, the EU’s Joint Research Centre as well as the European Commission’s DG ENER and DG REGIO attended the meeting.
The aim of the event was to assess and evaluate the results up to date and to pave a way for future projects. A key topic for the Priority Area was to introduce the findings of the Danube Region Gas Storage Analysis. The analysis showed that the Danube Region as a whole has sufficient storage capacities but with uneven distribution across countries. The results also outlined that as the markets become more interconnected and competitive, storage can be substituted partly by other means of flexibility that is new interconnectors. The Danube countries, in their joint declaration agreed on the need for regional cooperation mechanisms for the effective use of already available storage capacities.
Furthermore, a progress report on the Danube Region Smart Grid concept was presented, dealing with the question of smart grids on a macro regional level. Subsequent reports discussed the Danube Region Biomass Concept (to extend the use of biomass in the region) and the Danube Region Geothermal Concept. The latter project aims at the creation of a Danube region-wide consortium for a geothermal pilot project to be launched in 2014. The results of the training program on the 3rd EU Energy Package in Moldova were concluded in front of the members. The Steering Group discussed a new concept proposal titled “Danube Region Energy Efficiency Concept for Public Buildings” to reduce the energy consumption of public buildings in the region in order to meet the EU 2020 goals.
The Steering Group also accepted a joint declaration on Biomass Sustainability. The joint position states that new EU-wide obligatory sustainability criteria would unavoidably create additional administration and costs especially for the EU producers, without any additional benefit for the environment, thus creating market distortion and disadvantages in competition for the producers of the Member States. Moreover, a new and less detailed EU biomass sustainability criteria system would possibly devalue and erode the existing well developed and widely accepted national criteria, indicator and monitoring systems. The decisions will be forwarded to relevant institutions on EU level as a common position of DRS countries.
As for future projects, the Steering Group accepted two new project proposals and supported them with a letter of recommendation. The first initiative is the “Energy Performance Contracting in the Danube Region” led by GIZ (Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit). The other initiative is the SUSBANAT concept (Good Neighbours for Sustainable Investments in the Banat Region) with BTC EGTC (Banat Triplex Confinium European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation Limited) working as a lead partner. Both projects were submitted to the Intelligent Energy Europe’s call.
The next meeting of the Steering Group will be organized around mid-November with the annual stakeholder seminar of PA2.
Priority area coordinator Ambassador Anita Orbán will present the findings of Priority Area 2 at the EU Strategy for the Danube Region in the Programming Process for 2014-2020: Second Joint Meeting in Workshop 1, on 20th June 2013 in Stuttgart, Germany.
At the request of Budapest’s Castle district, Priority Area 2 of the EUSDR organized a field trip for the representatives of the Budapest Transport Company, the Budapest Transport Centre and the Castle district to the Vienna Transport Company (Wiener Linien). The meeting took place at 2 May, 2013 in Vienna with the aim to visit the electric midi bus installed by Wiener Linien in the autumn of 2012.
The participants received a 2-hour presentation, during which they discussed various technical details with the representatives of Wiener Linien, then they had a one-hour trip with the electric bus in Vienna's city center.
The visit was an important step in the evolution of a new environment-friendly and energy-efficient transport concept in the Castle district of Budapest by sharing best practices in the Danube region and providing an occasion to build professional relationship between the experts of Vienna and Budapest.