By Judith Ugwumadu | 8 July 2014
European Union spending on green energy projects needs to be better managed if it is to make the maximum contribution to the bloc’s goal of increasing the role of renewables, auditors have warned.
The EU has set a target to ensure that, by 2020, 20% of overall energy consumption across member states comes from renewable sources such as solar, wind and hydro power. Around €4.7bn was allocated to renewable energy projects between 2007 and 2013 with funding drawn from two sources– the European Regional Development Fund and the Cohesion Fund.
The European Court of Auditors examined 24 renewable energy projects to consider whether good results had been achieved. They found that they delivered outputs as planned and uncovered no significant cost overruns or time delays. However energy production targets had been achieved and properly measured in only one third of projects.
In addition, the overall value for money of cohesion projects had been limited in helping achieve the 2020 target because cost-effectiveness had not been the guiding principle in planning and implementing projects and because cohesion policy funds have only a limited EU added value.
Ladislav Balko, the ECA Member responsible for the report, said: ‘The EU member states have set ambitious renewable energy goals that can be supported significantly through EU money only if improvements in the management of the expenditure programmes are made.
‘The commission also needs to make sure the programmes being funded in the member states are cost-effective.’
Other concerns highlighted in the report centred on procurement. Selection of contractors had not always been done fairly, efficiently and transparently, the auditors said.
In the light of a likely increase in EU spending on renewable projects in the 2014-20 period, the ECA recommended that the European Commission produce guidance to ensure programmes are cost-effective, properly regulated and make a maximum contribution to the 2020 target.