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Decentralised Energy Production and Consumption in relation to the Nearly Zero Energy Building Obligations of EPBD

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Within the framework of the launch of the Nearly Zero Energy Challenge, in the discussion following the presentation of Angelo Consoli (president of CETRI), social housing practitioners from different countries gave their views on why their buildings are not reaching the full production potential.

The energy transition requires integrated local heating, cooling and energy efficiency planning. While energy efficiency is top priority for housing providers, they are also aware of the potential to use the buildings they manage to produce, consume and store energy. The Nearly Zero Energy Building Obligations set by the EPBD also require the production of renewable energy either on site or nearby all new buildings.

It is vital to review which factors are slowing down the achievement of those objectives.

Within the framework of the launch of the Nearly Zero Energy Challenge, in the discussion following the presentation of Angelo Consoli (president of CETRI), social housing practitioners from different countries gave their views on why their buildings are not reaching the full production potential.

In Germany, it is very difficult for cooperatives to produce energy and sell it to third parties. It can be possible as long as it is for consumption by their members, but if there’s a surplus it is difficult to sell it to the grid as this would mean that the housing cooperative becomes an energy producer and is taxed accordingly thereby losing the normal tax free status enjoyed by housing cooperatives. There is a perception that the grid has been designed for large producers. In Austria there is already installation of solar panels on a large scale in social housing, but this wouldn’t be economically viable without subsidies.

In France, until now these facilities are profitable thanks to the mechanism of acquisition of electricity established by the government. USH, the French Social Housing body fears that any changes in energy cogeneration price (gas and wood) may affect the profitability of the systems and thus represents a risk for households.

In Spain, until there is auto-consumption of renewable energy in Spain there can be no such thing as Nearly Zero Energy Housing. Consoli explained that the system is set up so that you have to feed locally produced energy to the grid and this is currently a complex procedure, but said that it should be possible for households to use the energy thereby reduce their bills and only send back the surplus.

In the UK Feed In Tariffs (FITs) for PV have seen a large take-up from Social Landlords. With their focus on affordable housing, social landlords invariably direct investment towards low income households and can therefore help to ensure social equity from funding mechanisms like FITs. They regret that the government has not yet properly recognised or supported this role.

In Holland, Aedes, the social housing federation, together with a big coalition (green NGO’s, municipalities, construction & installation, tenants and home-owners) sent a letter to the Dutch government with its vision of decentralized energy generation. Now it is planning to propose to the Parliament concrete measures which can allow small end users and also tenants to have net earnings on PV on a yearly basis. Currently this is not possible.