In order to meet the energy savings targets and commitments to the European Energy Community, Macedonia is doing a lot to improve its legislation on energy efficiency. Macedonian policy and legal framework on energy efficiency is consisted of: Strategy for Development of the Energy Sector 2009-2030, Strategy for Improvement of Energy Efficiency 2010-2020, First National Energy Efficiency Action Plan 2010-2012, Energy Law (enacted in 2011) and numerous by-laws.
A driver for increased energy efficiency
All these documents foresee measures to be implemented and obligations to be fulfilled by the public institutions and private entities in order to increase energy efficiency in various sectors. Compulsory three-year energy efficiency programs in municipalities, energy certification (energy passports) of buildings, regular energy audits, are among the measures that should contribute to accomplish the goal.
Why are energy audits important?
In order to determine if a building is energy efficient and identify the types of retrofit and refurbishment measures necessary to increase its efficiency, an audit has to be carried out. It is estimated that the number of buildings that belong to or are used by the public sector institutions is around 2,500. Most of them were built decades ago without taking energy efficiency aspects into consideration. In recent years, through several donor funded projects, a small number of public and private buildings was subjected to energy audits and renovation, the end result being the significant increase of their efficiency.
All these were considered to be one-time efforts. There was no systematic approach in implementing the energy audits. When the USAID-funded Clean Energy Investment Project was launched in April 2013, energy audits were foreseen on paper in the Energy Law and the Rulebook on Energy Audits, but in none were conducted, at least not in the way the newly adopted legislation prescribed. It was realized how important is to set up a legal framework that will eliminate the identified bottlenecks, allow for energy auditors to be licensed and to perform the work in a smooth manner. Therefore, the project and the relevant national authorities established strong cooperation to complete and improve the relevant legal framework. Implementation of energy audits, especially in public buildings, is a necessary tool in measuring the progress towards the national energy saving target set to 9% of the average final energy consumption by 2018.
How did the Energy Auditors Training and certification process unfold?
The first step was to develop the Energy Auditors Training Program. Following its official adoption, the Energy Agency selected 5 training providers. In the course of 2014, many trainings and exams were organized, and as a result, around 240 energy auditors were certified by the agency and around 50 energy auditing companies licensed by the Ministry of Economy. However, the 2014 amendments to the Energy Law have foreseen transfer of authorities related to the issuance of energy auditors’ certificates as well as changes in the manner of conducting the exam. The changes were supposed to enter into force in early 2015. These amendments entailed changes in the present by-laws and drafting completely new ones on this subject matter. The project assisted the Ministry of Economy in the drafting process.
What changes in relevant legislation were made?
There were major alterations in the examination of energy auditors. It was government policy to standardize the manner public institutions organize their exams. Uniformed type of questions (multiple choice answers), database of at least 200 questions, electronic application for conducting the theoretical part of the exam, and strict rules for allocation of points were among the novelties. Other changes referred to the fees for attending the training, taking the exam, conducting energy audit and issuing energy efficiency certificates. In determining the fees, the drafters had to ensure there is balance between confronting interests: a) the work of training providers and energy auditors to be profitable on one hand, and b) participation on the trainings and performing of audits to be affordable for trainees and building owners respectively, on the other. The fee to attend 90 hours training is around EUR 300, while the exam fee is about EUR 140. The fee for issuing an energy certificate (passport) for residential buildings cannot exceed about EUR 0.25 per square meter, and EUR 0.33 for commercial buildings.
To support these changes, the Rulebook on Energy Audits, Rulebook on Energy Performances of Buildings, and Energy Auditors Training Program were also revised. A few additional changes were made as a result of the deficiencies identified in the practice, which should overall facilitate the implementation of the rules.
What are the plans for the near future?
The USAID Clean Energy Investment Project, in cooperation with the EBRD’s project of ‘Technical Support to the Macedonian Ministry of Economy in Respect to the Transposition of the Energy Performances of Buildings Directive’ and the Ministry of Economy, will propose another set of amendments to completely align all aspects of energy auditing with the European Union’s legislation (e. g. differentiate between energy audits and inspection checks of boilers and air-conditioning systems). The end result should be improved legal framework for energy auditing and energy performances of buildings, which will be fully in line with the relevant EU directives and the best practices. This will allow for intensified and more effective energy audits, resulting in increased energy efficiency.
USAID Macedonia Clean Energy Investment Project
A three-year project, implemented by Winrock International, was initiated in April 2013. USAID Macedonia Clean Energy Investment (CEI) Project supports the Government of Macedonia in implementing relevant strategies with the goal to increase investment in energy from renewable sources, and reduce Macedonia’s total final energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Within the first component, the project provides technical assistance and implements a range of activities aiming at streamlining renewable energy project development and investment processes. In other words, the project activities aim to improve the overall renewable energy–enabling environment.