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Energy efficiency in Romania’s residential sector

Valentina Dimulescu   |   Research paper  |   08/29/2014   |   14 Pages

This analysis looks into the Romanian household sector as an energy consumer in comparison to other sectors of the economy, and at its present state in the wider context of the need to comply with European energy performance in buildings standards. It outlines the key applicable EU and national legislation, and examines where Romania currently stands in terms of implementing these standards with a focus on the program for thermal rehabilitation of multi-level buildings constructed during the 1950s to 1990s.

The purpose of this section is to present some basic characteristics of the Romanian buildings stock in regard to energy efficiency. Most of Romania’s residential buildings have been built during the communist regime (especially, 1961-1980) when little or no regard was paid to energy efficiency. Before going into the particularities of the residential sector, an overview of Romania’s energy balance is due first. Illustrated in Fig. 1, the amount of total primary energy consumption, close to 40 Mtoe during 2003-2009, has dropped sharply under 35 Mtoe (during 2008-2012) with only a slight increase in 2011. Industry was the highest energy consumer[1] up to 2008, when it dropped from over 9 Mtoe to 7 Mtoe and stayed below 2008 level in each following year. The economic crisis which hit Romania in 2009-2010, rising energy prices and the overall restructuring of the industrial sector have been major contributing factors to this downward trend.[2] Within this context, in 2009, the household sector (population consumption) became the largest consumer of primary energy (with slightly above 8 Mtoe), surpassing industry.

Figure 1: Romania’s energy balance (selected components) 2000 to 2012

Source: National Statistics Institute, TEMO database, Energy section, available at https://statistici.insse.ro/shop/index.jsp?page=tempo3&lang=ro&ind=IND108A

According to data available from the National Institute of Statistics, at the end of 2011, the total number of buildings with dwellings (clădiri cu locuințe) was 5.1 million. The corresponding number of conventional dwellings was 8.4 million, 54% of which located in urban areas.[3] Furthermore, the breakdown of the total building stock by building type shows that 57% (4.8 million dwellings) are apartments/studios in blocks of flats; and 43% (3.6 million dwellings) are single-family houses.

There are a total of 83,799 buildings that are blocks of flats in Romania, of which 79,077 are located in cities and municipalities and 4,722 in communes (data from 2002 Census).[4] The blocks of flats are concentrated in urban areas (76%) whereas the single-family houses are present mostly in the rural area (96%).[5] Most blocks (63%) are ground floor + 4 levels, only 16% are G + 10 levels (See Fig. 2). The total building floor area consisted of 493 million m2, out of which residential buildings represented 86% (426 million m2) and non-residential buildings represented 13% (67 million m2).[6]

According to the preliminary data of the 2011 Census of Population and Buildings, from 2005 to 2010, a considerable segment of Romania’s population (45%) continued to live in rural areas (see Table 1). Also, at national level, the total living floor area rose from 304 million m2 in 2002 to 398 million m2, while the average living floor area has increased from 14 m2/ inhabitant in 2002 to 20 m2/ inhabitant at the end of 2010.[7]

 Table 1: Breakdown of building stock by location and floor area
Total Urban Rural
Number of conventional dwellings 8,450,607 4,582,717 3,867,890
Number of rooms for habitation 22,739,000 11,417,000 11,322,000
Living floor area (m2) 398,037,000 220,454,000 177,583,000
Figure 2: Dominant type of building (by height) in the urban area

Table 1 & Fig. 2 Source: BUILD UP Skills – Romania, Analysis of the Status Quo, URBAN-INCERC, Intelligent Energy Europe (IEE), August 2012

At the end of 2010, the breakdown of residential heating consumption by energy source indicates that biomass (largely firewood) is by far the most used fuel with 48%, followed by natural gas (28%), and district heating (23%). Please see Fig. 3. According to the Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE), three out of four single family houses in Romania have a form of biomass heating system. As far as district heating is concerned, its main heat production sources are natural gas (54%), oil (26%) and coal (20%).[8]

Figure 3: Sources of heating in residential sector (2011)

Source: Renovating Romania, BPIE, April 2014

With respect to energy consumption for space heating and domestic hot water (DHW), a distinction is due between: on the one hand, those dwellings which are connected to the district heating or natural gas distribution network and, on the other hand, those which use solid fuel (biomass) local stoves. According to data available from the National Institute of Statistics and the URBAN-INCERC National Research and Development Institute in Construction, Urbanism and Sustainable Territorial Development, since 2008 dwellings using biomass registered a higher value of energy consumption relative to the one documented for dwellings connected to the district and gas network (see Fig. 4). Even though the number of dwellings in the latter category has slowly increased from 2005 to 2010, energy consumption has been decreasing, reaching a minimum of 203 kWh/ m2/ year in 2010. A contributing factor to this phenomenon has been the constant disconnection trend from the district heating systems, an aspect which was officially encouraged after 1989, with many apartment owners switching to individual gas-fired heating systems instead. In addition, decreasing subsidies for heating have lead to a 30-50% hike in the value of the thermal energy bills for an already impoverished population.[9] Presently, the district heating system has many problems: an overdue lifespan, a low efficiency with poor improvement potential (30%) and high carbon intensity.[10] Another aspect which needs to be underlined is that – in lack of precise statistical data – the figures regarding energy consumption for dwellings using biomass are “strongly underestimated in comparison with normal energy performance (to ensure acceptable indoor comfort level)”.[11] Therefore, energy consumption in the rural area is higher than what is presented in official analyses.

 Figure 4: Number of occupied dwellings by space heating system and their energy use with climatic corrections (2005-2010)

Source: BUILD UP Skills – Romania, Analysis of the Status Quo, URBAN-INCERC, Intelligent Energy Europe, p. 51, Aug. 2012.

The available data on the breakdown of the existing building stock by age indicates that, in 2011:

  • 31% of buildings were built before 1961;
  • 19% were built between 1961 and 1970;
  • 23% were built between 1971 and 1980;
  • 14% were built between 1981 and 1989;
  • 7% were built between 1990 and 1999; and only 4% were built after 2000 (see Fig. 5).

Therefore, the spectrum of buildings in need of renovations is relatively large. It is worth mentioning that, due to emigration and strong labour migration, it is estimated that in 2010 close to 1 million dwellings (975,000) out of 8.4 million were abandoned or not occupied on a permanent basis.[12]

Figure 5: Breakdown of the building stock by age bands

Source: BUILD UP Skills – Romania, Analysis of the Status Quo, URBAN-INCERC, Intelligent Energy Europe, p. 50, Aug. 2012.

 

The most concrete indication of the thermal performance of residential buildings can be given by the so-called U-value[13] or heat loss through a material. The lower the U-value, the less heat escapes through specific components (walls, floors, roofs, windows). Table 2 presents the U-value of vertical and horizontal components found in residential buildings which were constructed in the last century (from 1910 and up until after 2000) and their corresponding final annual energy use in kWh per square meter. Fig. 6 presents the U-value for walls up to 2011. As expected, the older buildings lose more heat than those which have been built since the early 2000s which enjoyed the increasing presence of energy performance standards vis-a-vis the buildings’ envelope. Therefore, there is a stringent need that the existing building stock be brought in line with the requested energy efficiency standards. Steps have been taken in this direction and these will be detailed in the section dedicated to thermal insulation of buildings.

Table 2: Energy performance in residential buildings and age bands
Construction year Thermal performance standards

U-value [W/(m2K)]

Final energy use (kWH/m2/year)
Vertical Horizontal
<1910-1960 1.40 – 2.00 0.90 – 1.80 150-400
1961-1980 1.35 – 1.90 0.90 – 1.80 150-400
1981-1989 1.25 – 1.60 0.90 – 1.80 150-400
1990-1994 1.10 – 1.50 0.90 – 1.80 150-350
1995-1999 0.80 – 1.10 0.90 – 1.80 140-280
>2000 0.70 – 1.10 0.90 – 1.80 120-230

Source: BUILD UP Skills – Romania, Analysis of the Status Quo, URBAN-INCERC, p. 55, Aug. 2012.

 Figure 6: Thermal performance standards (U-value) of walls in residential buildings and age bands

Source: BPIE Data Hub, Romania – Key Statistics, Building Stock Performance, available at http://www.buildingsdata.eu/country-factsheets

 

 

Legal framework

Currently, the 2010/31/EU Energy Performance in Buildings Directive (EPBD) and the 2012/27/EU Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) are the two most important pieces of EU legislation concerning energy efficiency in buildings. The later was passed to speed up the implementation of the 2010 Directive in EU Member States (MSs), and the two are generally regarded to come as a package. Other Directives such as the 2009/28/EC Renewable Energy Directive, the 2009/125/EC Eco-design Directive or the 2010/30/EU Labeling Directive although important too are deemed indirectly related to building energy use and, therefore, not the focus of this analysis.

As a candidate country, Romania had transposed Directive 2002/91/EU on energy performance of buildings (the predecessor of EPBD), and after its accession in 2007, it fully transposed the recast Directive 2010/31/EU (EPBD). However, the EU’s energy efficiency package was modified in March 2011 (Communication on an Energy Efficiency Plan 2011)[14] and subsequently Directive 2012/27/EU on energy efficiency was adopted in October 2012. The later took full effect in Romania only in early August 2014 with the adoption of Law 121/2014 on energy efficiency, published in the Official Gazette no. 574 of August 1, 2014.

In late 2013, the Romanian Government respected the transposition deadline (31 December 2013) for Art.5 (5) of Directive 2012/27/EU, which called for the creation of a public inventory of heated and/or cooled central government buildings with a total useful floor area over 500 m2 and information on the energy performance of each building (see Table 3).

 Table 3: Transposition of key Directives on energy performance of buildings in Romania
Directive National legislation
Directive 2002/91/EU on the energy performance of buildings
  • Law 372/2005 on the energy performance of buildings
Directive 2006/32/EC on energy end-use efficiency and energy services (repealed by 2012 EED)
  • National Energy Efficiency Action Plan I (2007);
  • Government Decision 1281/2007 on approving the National Plan to reduce energy costs for the population by increasing energy efficiency and using renewable energy as well as the Rules for selecting the applicants for co-financing within this program;
  • Order 157/2007, given by the Ministry of Transport, Constructions and Tourism approving the technical rules “Methodology for calculating the energy performance of buildings”;
  • National Energy Efficiency Action Plan II (2011).
Directive 2010/31/EC on the energy performance of buildings (EPBD)
  • Government Emergency Ordinance 18/2009 on the increase of energy performance of blocks of flats;
  • Government Order 1071/2009 amending and supplementing Order 157/2007 approving the technical rules “Methodology for calculating the energy performance of buildings”;
  • Government Emergency Ordinance 69/2010 concerning the thermal rehabilitation of housings with financing by bank loans with governmental security;
  • Law 159/2013 amending and supplementing Law 372/2005 on the energy performance of buildings;
  • Government Emergency Ordinance 63/2012 amending and supplementing Government Emergency Ordinance 18/2009 on the increase of energy performance of blocks of flats;
  • National Multiannual Plans to increase energy performance of buildings.
Directive 2012/27/EU on energy efficiency (EED)
  • Law 121/2014 on energy efficiency;
  • Art. 5 (5) was transposed in late December 2013 via Order no. 3466/2013, given by the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration, on inventorying heated and/or cooled central government buildings and on making this inventory public, as well as building databanks especially dedicated to energy efficiency.

Source: author’s compilation; Romanian Legislative Council database.

 

Directive 2010/31/EU makes a distinction between improving energy efficiency in existing buildings (Art. 7) and in new buildings (Art. 9). Concerning existing buildings, MSs were called upon to ensure that, after their renovation, they meet the minimum energy performance requirements. The provisions regarding new buildings (Art. 9), however, imposed two clear targets:

  • all new buildings must be nearly zero energy buildings (nZEB) by 31 December 2020;
  • new buildings occupied and owned by public authorities must be nZEB by 31 December 2018.

In addition, MSs had to draft national plans which had to include the detailed application of the nZEB definition, a numerical indicator of primary energy use (kWh/m2 per year), intermediate targets for improving buildings’ energy performance by 2015 and information on the policies and financial instruments which will be used to achieve these targets.

The transposition deadline for both articles mentioned above was January 9, 2013 (Art. 28, EPBD). It is important to note that Government Emergency Ordinance (GEO) 63/2012 amending and supplementing GEO 18/2009 on the increase of energy performance of blocks of flats – mentioned in Table 3 – was passed after the EC communicated the initiation of an infringement procedure against Romania for not communicating the measures taken for the transposition of Directive 2010/31/EU, especially those concerning the initiation of a national plan for nZEBs.

Fulfilling the energy efficiency targets – the role of the residential sector

In order to reach the 20% increase in energy efficiency by 2020, Directive 2012/27/EU states that: “Each Member State shall set an indicative national energy efficiency target, based on either primary or final energy consumption, primary or final energy savings, or energy intensity” (Art. 3). When notifying these targets to the Commission, EU countries “shall also express those targets in terms of an absolute level of primary energy consumption and final energy consumption in 2020”. When Member States set these targets they have to consider that the EU (as a whole) targets a primary energy consumption of “no more than 1,474 Mtoe” and/or a final energy consumption of “no more than 1,078 Mtoe” in 2020. Thus, in the context of Europe 2020 Strategy, through its 2011-2013 National Reform Plan, Romania has set as its national target for the year 2020 a 19% reduction in its primary energy consumption (10 Mtoe) (see Table 4 for absolute values).

Table 4: Romania’s national energy efficiency target for 2020 vs. actual registered intermediate values since its 2007 accession
Million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe)
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2020 target[15]
Primary energy consumption[16] 39 39 34 34 35 34 42.99
Final energy consumption[17] 24 25 22 23 23 23 30.32

Source: National Statistics Institute, TEMO database, Energy section; Annual 2013 Energy Efficiency Progress Report on Romania, p. 7, available at http://ec.europa.eu/energy/efficiency/eed/doc/reporting/2013/ro_2013report_en.pdf

The decision regarding the targeted energy efficiency level is taken by each Member State in accordance with the national context, projected GDP growth, remaining energy saving potential, individual energy mix, and development state of RES, nuclear, or CCS. In this sense, the forecasted energy consumption for 2020 indicates an increase in both primary and final consumption since Romania is expected to develop economically and industrially in the following period. The major concern for state authorities is to achieve a higher degree of decoupling between this increased energy consumption and overall economic development.[18]

Previously, Directive 2006/32/CE stated that MSs have to reduce their final energy consumption by at least 9% in 2008-2016 in comparison to the average consumption of the last five years for which data was available (2001-2005) that for Romania was calculated to be 20.84 Mtoe. Thus, Romania’s savings interim target amounted to 0.94 Mtoe in 2010 (4.5% of 20.84 Mtoe) and to a minimum final savings target of 1.88 Mtoe (9%) in 2016. It is worth stressing that, by its own choice Romania has set itself a more ambitious 2016 savings target of 2.8 Mtoes (13.5%), in lieu of the minimum 9% required in the 2006 Directive (equivalent, in Romania’s case, to 1.88 Mtoe).[19]

If we look at Romania’s average overall energy efficiency gains[20], we will see that since 2004 Romania registered significant progress. Furthermore, in 2011, it ranked 4th at highest overall energy efficiency gains (with 24.6%) after Poland (26.8%), Latvia (26.2%) and Bulgaria (25.2%), and against a 13.5% EU average in that year (see Fig. 7). Appealing as these figures may be, one very important aspect which needs to be underlined is that this state of affairs is a result of a massive (ongoing) economic restructuring process coupled with the effects of the recent 2008-2010 recession. The latter hit the industry and services sectors the hardest, prompting a drop in economic activity which, in turn, led to a decrease in energy intensity.

Figure 7: Overall energy efficiency gains at the EU-27 level and in selected Member States (2000-2011)

Source: Odyssee-Mure data tool, available at http://www.indicators.odyssee-mure.eu/online-indicators.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Romania’s Energy Strategy 2007-2020 (written in 2007) and its 2011 updated version estimated that the national savings potential is 27-35% of the primary energy resources, out of which the household sector could account for up to 40-50% (highest potential) of energy savings (see Table 5 for absolute values).[21] Moreover, the latter was expected to produce, both in 2010 (0.416 Mtoe) and in 2016 (1.247 Mtoe), the highest energy savings out of all the sectors under scrutiny.

Table 5: Estimation of energy savings per sector in 2010 and 2016
Million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe)
Sector 2010 2016
Industry 0.060 0.180
Households 0.416 1.247
Transportation 0.160 0.480
Services (tertiary) 0.028 0.085
Energy savings out of total final energy consumption 0.664 1.992

Source: Romania’s Energy Strategy 2007-2020

Romania’s first energy strategy also estimated that, in 2010, final energy savings would amount to 0.664 Mtoe and that these would reach 1.992 Mtoe in 2016. The 2011 National Energy Efficiency Action Plan[22] presented the actual registered savings in all sectors up to 2010. The numbers (see Table 6) show that, in 2010, Romania had in fact exceeded (2.222 Mtoe) the 2007 estimate made by the First National Energy Efficiency Action Plan for its 2010 target (0.664 Mtoe). Moreover, total energy savings in 2010 (2.222 Mtoe) are close to Romania’s final 2016 savings target of 2.8 Mtoe.

Table 6: Registered energy savings by sector (2008-2010)
Million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe)
Sector 2008 2009 2010
Industry 0.453 1.052 1.060
Transportation -0.072 0.016 0.099
Household 0.042 0.190 0.281
Services 0.511 0.714 0.782
Total energy savings 0.934 1.972 2.222

Source: National Energy Efficiency Action Plan II 2007-2010, updated for 2011-2020, August 2011

If compared to energy savings realized by other sectors during 2008-2010, the household sector has proved to be a laggard – only ahead of the transportation sector – when it comes to energy savings despite the policy efforts at central and local administrative level. In 2010, for instance, the household sector saved 0.281 Mtoe, almost 3 times less than the energy savings realized by services and 4 times less than the ones in the industrial sector (see Table 6). However, it must be reiterated that this was not only due to investments in energy efficiency, but to the economic crisis which hit Romania in 2009 and lingered after. As stated before, the result was a drop in both industrial and economic activity which rather falsely now appears and is labelled in statistics as ‘energy saving’.

Figure 8: Annual percentage change in residential energy efficiency gains (2000-2011)*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Data on Estonia, Hungary and Malta are missing for the year 2011. Thus, these countries have been excluded form the graph and an EU-27 average could not be calculated. However, the average annual % change for EU-24 over this period is.1.6%. Source: Odyssee-Mure data tool, available at http://www.indicators.odyssee-mure.eu/online-indicators.html

Notwithstanding the poor performance relative to other sectors presented above, the Romanian residential sector is hailed as the one with the most favourable evolution from the point of view of energy efficiency[23] when scrutinized via the so-called energy efficiency index ODEX.[24] According to the data provided by the OdyseeMure project, over the period 2000-2011, Romania registered an annual average rate of energy efficiency gains[25] of 2.9% in the residential sector – a score which places her on second place, after Latvia which improved its residential energy efficiency by 3.3% per year (see Fig. 8).

By taking 2000 as a point of reference (100%), the value of the ODEX indicator for this particular sector decreased by 69% and the final energy savings amounted in 2010 to 3.57 Mtoe.[26] From 2000 onwards, Romania experienced an increase in energy consumption as a result of economic growth and a subsequent increase in personal income. However, this trend was offset by increasing energy prices and decreasing subsidies, especially those for heating. In addition to this, the population is also credited to have taken independent steps to increase energy efficiency so as to reduce costs.[27]

In this context, total final energy consumption in the household sector has begun to stabilize from 2008 onwards at around 8 Mtoe per year. Other variables which need to be taken into consideration in the overall decrease of energy consumption is the growth in both the number of dwellings and in their average area since the newest ones benefit from more energy efficient materials and technologies. Therefore, in order to have a more precise estimation of the manner in which energy efficiency has evolved when it comes to space heating, we must look at one indicator in particular: heating consumption per m2 (see Fig. 9).

Figure 9: Unit consumption per m2 for space heating with climatic corrections (2000-2011)

Source: Odyssee-Mure data tool, available at http://www.indicators.odyssee-mure.eu/online-indicators.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to the data provided by the OdyseeMure project, from 2000 to 2011, in Romania, unit consumption per m2 for space heating has decreased by an aggregate 58% or -4.8% per year. The latter value places Romania at the very top of the list of countries registering a substantial decrease in unit consumption per m2 for space heating.[28] Nevertheless, unit consumption per m2 in Romania was and still remains higher than the EU average because energy waste in the buildings sector persists.

Romania’s National Multiannual Plan for thermal insulation[29] of blocks of flats

The first governmental measure taken with respect to the thermal rehabilitation of buildings built from the 1950s to the 1990s was taken in 2002 via GEO 174/2002, later approved by Law 211/2003 and modified by Law 260/2006. Starting with 2009, Romania began to implement the so-called “National Multiannual Plan to increase the energy performance of buildings” after the adoption of GEO 18/2009 and Law 5/2010. The main objectives of the latter are to decrease energy consumption for space heating from 200 to 100 kWH/ m2/ year within the useful floor area, thus reaching an energy savings value for space heating of 100 kWh/ m2/ year.

Since EU accession and the subsequent energy efficiency commitments, the funding coming from the state budget (via the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration) for thermal rehabilitation increased by 16% compared to the policy in place in 2002, whereas the share of funds coming from the local authorities and the owners’ association decreased by 3% and 13% respectively. Therefore, at present, the funds are being covered 80% from the state and local budgets (in line with the level of funds approved on a yearly basis) and 20% from the owners.[30]

The multiannual plans contain the available total and administrative territorial unit (ATU) level budget and a list of blocks of flats and apartments which are to be rehabilitated (see Table 7). The budget is divided on a yearly basis, but the blocks of flats and apartments which are listed on the rehabilitation list refer to a multi-annual and not a yearly program. The variation in the number of blocks and apartments on the list is due to decreased funding and completed rehabilitation works. Thus, the total number of the renovated units and the resulting energy efficiency gains are to be evaluated on a cumulative basis at the end of the program.[31]

However, a 2011 report by Romania’s Court of Audit found that between 2009 and 2011, the program completed rehabilitation work for “873 blocks of flats and 32,219 apartments”, but it criticized the responsible authority (Ministry for Regional Development and Tourism, MDRT) for poor data management. The report found that the Ministry did not monitor the program implementation, did not track and quantify the energy savings realized, did not have a database with the current blocks’ stock (by their location), and lacked a tracking system for applications received and subsequent project indicators. This significantly hampered an analysis of program results and slowed down the process of populating databases with information concerning the energy performance of buildings.[32]

Table 7: Total allocated budget and highest sum given to an administrative territorial unit through the National Multiannual Plans aimed at increasing the energy performance of buildings (2009-2012)
2009 2010 2011 2012
ATUs* included (no.) 79 47 94 21
Blocks of flats (no.) 1,257 896 1,336 1,153
Apartments (no.) 51,677 40,670 54,861 52,266
Highest sum given at unit level (mil. LEI) 41 21.5 10.4 5
Unit receiving the highest sum Bucharest -District 2 Bucharest -District 2 Bucharest -District 6 Bucharest -District 6
Total budget (mil. LEI) 360 150 150 18.5

* Administrative territorial units.

Source: author’s compilation; Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration, National Program on increasing the energy performance of blocks of flats (2009-2012), http://www.mdrap.ro/programul-national-privind-cresterea-performantei-energetice-la-blocurile-de-locuinte

In 2012, for instance, the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration offered the following statistics on the number of finalized rehabilitation works: from 13 ATUs and from 63 blocks of flats, only 2,305 apartments have been thermally rehabilitated in 2012. The leader in both the highest number of rehabilitated blocks of flats (17) and apartments (1,177) in this year is the ATU which also received the highest amount of money in 2012 – Bucharest’s District 6 (5.5 million lei out of the total 18.5 million lei budget for 2012).[33]

Due to the increasing financial strain prompted by the economic crisis, in 2012, the thermal rehabilitation of buildings program was included in the list of eligible domains for EU funding, more precisely within the Regional Operational Program 2007-2013. The total budget available of 182.4 million euro (contribution from the European Fund for Regional Development and from the state budget) is to cover 60% of the eligible project costs and to be split between Romania’s eight NUTS 2 regions. Consequently, each region will receive 22.80 million euro.[34] Consequently, the target set for the year 2015 is 46,920 rehabilitated apartments with a corresponding total energy saving of 256 GWh/year.[35] Because the call for applications was launched at the end of 2012, its evolution cannot be yet fully examined.[36]

Conclusion

Buildings have been identified as “the single biggest potential for energy savings” in the EU. According to EPBD, buildings account for 40% of total energy consumption in the EU. In Romania, the energy savings potential in the residential buildings sector is estimated to be as high as 40-50% of current energy consumption, a percentage which is now lost due to the wasteful consumption profile of a little modernized building stock.[37] The present analysis looked only at the Romanian residential sector, leaving out those with non-residential purpose (hotels, schools, hospitals, commercial buildings, offices, etc). It is worth mentioning that in the past 5 years there has been a huge stakeholder mobilization in support of building renovation in Romania. Significant data was generated, key consultations have taken place, and key databases for this topic have been created. This analysis outlined the main legislation in place today at EU and national level that underpins and drives the effort to improve energy performance in buildings. In the end, the text examined one of the main policies intended to increase energy efficiency: the program for thermal rehabilitation of multi-level residential buildings erected between 1950 and 1990, and the public funding available for it in 2009-2012. There are three major conclusions to be drawn.

Firstly, there is a massive untapped potential (biomass accounted for 48% of the sources of heating in the residential sector in 2011). The fact that so many households are still dependant on this type of heating fuel indicates that the market opportunity of replacing traditional stoves with a local (decentralized) heating system using high efficiency biomass based boilers is high.

Secondly, although we have seen that Romania registered energy efficiency gains from 2000 to 2011, the particular contribution of the policy aiming at thermal insulation has been modest especially because of diminishing public financial resources. However, the inclusion of thermal rehabilitation projects among those eligible for European funding is an important step in supporting the continuation of this policy. A final assessment of the thermal insulation program’s overall impact and contribution to achieving the 20-20-20 targets will be possible in the coming years, as more data is expected to be centralized which in turn will allow an in-depth analysis.

Thirdly, this effort has to be further supported by adequate financial instruments that can allow more beneficiaries to engage in deep renovations that can accelerate energy saving in the household sector. For a country whose citizens have the lowest personal income level in the EU, investing in thermal rehabilitation of apartment blocks has to be a priority policy focus.

 


FOOTNOTES:
  1. In 1992, the industry sector had the largest share (49%) within the structure of final energy consumption. However, in 2010, the share of final energy consumption in the industry sector had dropped to 31%, while the transportation sector’s share increased from 13% in 1992 to 23% in 2010. Source: ICEMENERG, ANRE, “Energy Efficiency Policies and Measures in Romania. Monitoring of EU and national energy efficiency targets”, September 2012, p. 12, available at http://www.odyssee-mure.eu/publications/national-reports/energy-efficiency-romania.pdf
  2. Ministry of Economy, National Energy Efficiency Action Plan II 2007-2010, updated for 2011-2020, August 2011, p. 9, available at http://www.minind.ro/energie/PNAEE_var_finala.pdf
  3. BUILD UP Skills – Romania, Analysis of the Status Quo, URBAN-INCERC, Intelligent Energy Europe (IEE), p. 44, August 2012, available at: http://www.buildupskills.eu/sites/default/files/BUILD-UP-Skills_Romania_Status_Quo_EN.pdf
  4. JASPERS Working Paper, June 2013 report, p.10.
  5. Ibid. 3, p. 46-47, August 2012.
  6. BPIE Data Hub, Romania – Key Statistics, Building Stock Inventory, available at http://www.buildingsdata.eu/country-factsheets
  7. BUILD UP Skills – Romania, Analysis of the Status Quo, URBAN-INCERC, Intelligent Energy Europe (IEE), p. 44-46, August 2012.
  8. Renovating Romania – A strategy for the energy renovation of Romania’s building stock, Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE), April 2014, p. 21, available at http://bpie.eu/uploads/lib/document/attachment/39/Renovating_Romania_EN_Final.pdf
  9. Aureliu Leca, “Considerations regarding Romania’s Sustainable Energy Development”, ROEC Policy Paper, p. 9, March 2013, available at http://www.roec.ro/romanias-sustainable-energy-development/
  10. Ibid. 7, p. 22.
  11. BUILD UP Skills – Romania, Analysis of the Status Quo, URBAN-INCERC, Intelligent Energy Europe (IEE), p. 52, August 2012.
  12. National Energy Efficiency Action Plan II (PNAEE II), Annex. 2.4, p. 117.
  13. The U-value is the measure of the rate of heat loss through a material. It is calculated as the amount of heat lost through one m2 of material for every degree difference in temperature either side of the material. Source: BPIE Data Hub, Glossary, available at: http://www.buildingsdata.eu/glossary/en/u-values?uri=http%3A//terminology.gbpn.org/GBPNThesaurus/77
  14. The rationale behind this particular change was the acknowledgement of the fact that the Member States were falling behind the EU’s energy efficiency targets. In this sense, the European Council underlined that “determined action is required to tap the considerable potential for higher energy savings in buildings, transport, products and processes” (Directive 2012/27/EU on energy efficiency).
  15. Assuming the 10 Mtoe reduction target (19% reduction in primary energy consumption) is achieved by 2020.
  16. Primary energy consumption means Gross Inland Energy Consumption minus non-energy use of energy carriers. Source: Eurostat
  17. Final energy consumption includes all energy delivered to the final consumer’s door (industry, transport, households and other sectors) for all energy uses. Source: Eurostat
  18. Annual 2013 Energy Efficiency Progress Report on Romania, “Report concerning Energy Efficiency drawn up pursuant to Directive 2012/27/EU”, p. 4, available at http://ec.europa.eu/energy/efficiency/eed/doc/reporting/2013/ro_2013report_en.pdf
  19. Ministry of Economy, National Energy Efficiency Action Plan I (2007-2010), August 2007, p. 10, available at http://ec.europa.eu/energy/demand/legislation/doc/neeap/romania_ro.pdf
  20. Energy efficiency gains (in industry, transport, households) are calculated from unit consumption trends by sub-sector (or end-use or mode of transport) by aggregation of unit consumption indices by sub-sector in one index for the sector on the basis of the current weight of each sub-sector in the sector’s energy consumption. The service sector is excluded because of a lack of reliable data on energy savings. Source: Odyssee-Mure Project, Data Tools, Key Indicators, Overall energy efficiency gains since 2000, available at http://www.indicators.odyssee-mure.eu/online-indicators.html
  21. The other sectors with considerable savings potential are: industry (20-25%) and transportation (35-40%). Source: Ministry of Economy, Romania’s Energy Strategy 2007-2020, updated for 2011-2020, August 2011, p. 38.
  22. The top-down methodology used in calculating the final energy savings from 2008 to 2010 is the one recommended by the European Commission in “Recommendations on measurement and verification methods in the framework of Directive 2006/32/EC on energy end-use efficiency and energy services”.
  23. ICEMENERG, ANRE, “Energy Efficiency Policies and Measures in Romania. Monitoring of EU and national energy efficiency targets”, September 2012, p. 4.
  24. The energy efficiency index ODEX can be calculated in two alternative ways which provide the same result. The first weighs the individual index of each sub-sector on the basis of its share in the energy consumption of the sector. The second method aggregates the energy efficiency progress achieved in all sub-sectors on the basis of the amount of energy saved and it is based on the “unit consumption effect”. Source: European Environment Agency, Definition of the energy efficiency index ODEX, available at http://www.monitoringstelle.at/fileadmin/docs/de/Diverse_Dokumente/Definition_Odex.pdf
  25. The energy efficiency gain in the households sector is calculated from unit consumption trends by end-users/equipments (8 of which: heating, water heating, cooking, refrigerator, freezer, washing machine, dishwashers and TV) by aggregation of unit consumption indices by end-uses in one index for the sector on the basis of the current weight of each mode in the sector’s energy consumption. Source: Odyssee-Mure Project, Data Tools, Key Indicators, Energy efficiency gains in households since 2000, available at http://www.indicators.odyssee-mure.eu/online-indicators.html
  26. ICEMENERG, ANRE, “Energy Efficiency Policies and Measures in Romania. Monitoring of EU and national energy efficiency targets”, September 2012, p. 34.
  27. Ibid, p. 25.
  28. Romania is followed by Slovenia (-3.9%), Latvia (-3.8%) and the UK (-3.35%). Source: Odyssee-Mure data tool, Consumption of household per m2 for space heating (normal climate), period 2000-2011, available at http://www.indicators.odyssee-mure.eu/online-indicators.html
  29. In general, the program implies thermal insulation of the opaque exterior walls, replacement of the existing windows/doors with efficient PVC window systems having thermal insulating glazing, thermal and hydro insulation of the terrace, insulation of the slab over unheated basements, replacing the heating distribution network in the unheated basement, including the provision of hydraulic balancing devices and pipeline insulation, replacing the domestic hot water (DHW) distribution network, including pipeline insulation and the installation of DHW individual flow meters, installing thermostatic radiator valves. Source: Ministry for Local Development and Internal Affairs, Program for the thermal rehabilitation of blocks of flats, available at http://www.mdrap.ro/programul-national-privind-cresterea-performantei-energetice-la-blocurile-de-locuinte; BUILD UP Skills – Romania, Analysis of the Status Quo, URBAN-INCERC, Intelligent Energy Europe (IEE), p. 46-47, August 2012, available at:http://www.buildupskills.eu/sites/default/files/BUILD-UP-Skills_Romania_Status_Quo_EN.pdf
  30. If the association or one or several owners cannot contribute to the rehabilitation effort, the local city or town hall can cover the remaining costs and decide the manner in which the funds will be repaid. Source: Ministry for Local Development and Internal Affairs, Program for the thermal rehabilitation of blocks of flats, available at http://www.mdrap.ro/programul-national-privind-cresterea-performantei-energetice-la-blocurile-de-locuinte
  31. Odysee Mure Project, RO-27 – Programs for thermal rehabilitation of the multi-level residential buildings built-up 1950-1990, November 2011, available at http://www.measures-odyssee-mure.eu/public/mure_pdf/household/RO27.PDF
  32. Romania’s Court of Audit report for 2011, published in December 2012, p. 231: http://www.curteadeconturi.ro/Publicatii/RAPORTUL%20PUBLIC%20PE%20ANUL%202011.pdf
  33. Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration, National Program on increasing the energy performance of blocks of flats (2009-2012), available at http://www.mdrap.ro/programul-national-privind-cresterea-performantei-energetice-la-blocurile-de-locuinte
  34. Ministry of Regional Development and Tourism, Management Authority for the Regional Operational Program, Applicants’ Guide for Priority Axis 1, Major Intervention Domain 1.2, p. 9, available at http://www.fonduri-ue.ro/res/filepicker_users/cd25a597fd-62/Finantari/POR/DMI-1.2/02.11.2012/Ghidul_Solicitantului-EE_31.10.12.pdf
  35. Regional Operational Program – 2012 Annual Implementation Report, May 2013, p. 50, available at http://www.fonduri-ue.ro/res/filepicker_users/cd25a597fd-62/Documente_Suport/Rapoarte/1_Rapoarte_POR/13.09.2013/RAI_POR_2012_var_3_13_05_2013.pdf
  36. Romania benefits from the so-called “n+3 rule” for the years 2011 and 2012. This means that the deadline for spending structural and cohesion funds has been extended until December 31, 2015.
  37. Studiul IER no. 1/2013 “Liberalizarea treptata a pietelor de energie si gaz si imapctul acestui proces asupra economiei romanesti”, Capitolul 7, p. 104, 105, 110.

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