Unlocking investment in cities

Project review of five european local authorities



Jana Cicmanova
Thomas Garabetian

Publication year


Under the Intelligent Energy Europe programme, the European Commission set up a wide array of facilities of technical or project development assistance (PDA) for renewable energy and energy efficiency investments targeting different types of players. Public authorities, and notably cities, are a key target group. The Juncker Investment Plan also offers a strong focus on project development assistance.
Unlike more traditional forms of financial support, project development assistance programmes do not typically provide their beneficiaries with funding for investment. Instead, they provide grants for a set of specific eligible costs for project development and management.
These can include the creation of project manager positions, hiring of technical, financial and legal experts, feasibility and market studies, programme structuring, energy audits, tendering procedure preparation and so on.
PDA programmes aim at easing the start of an investment programme by reducing the costs of its early preparatory phases.

The ELENA programme set up by the European Commission and managed by the European Investment Bank (EIB) is the very first European technical assistance facility supporting large investment projects which is led by local authorities.

Energy Cities’ review of ELENA-EIB projects implemented by five member cities

As European technical assistance programmes can only support a limited number of beneficiaries, it is important that the latter share their knowledge and innovative solutions with other cities around Europe, thus increasing even more the impact of the EU funds. Energy Cities – the European association of cities in energy transition – therefore decided to review and disseminate innovative financial and organisational models that were developed and implemented by five of its members that are beneficiaries of such programmes. We also wanted to assess and highlight the benefits of support schemes such as ELENA-EIB by discussing with our members their experiences with PDA implementation and cooperation with the European Investment Bank as a PDA manager.

This document presents five case studies resulting from detailed interviews with project managers responsible for ELENA-EIB implementation in local authorities. The programmes are presented in this review in the chronological order of the signature of their ELENA project:

  • Paris: retrofitting public school buildings through energy performance contracting (2010)
  • Barcelona ELECTROBUS: retrofitting of buses into hybrid vehicles and redrawing of the city’s urban transport network (2011)
  • Tramways in Skåne,with the cities of Malmö, Lund and Helsingborg: development of three tramway networks thanks to joint procurement and experience-sharing (2011)
  • Bristol Retrofitting –Innovative Technologies for Everyone: establishment of a municipal energy company to transform the city’s energy sector (2012)
  • Brussels-Capital VAMOS: mainstreaming renewable energy production in public housing projects (2012)