he Environment Fund Administration is the main institution that provides financial support for the implementation of projects and programs for environmental protection. The Environment Fund Administration is a public institution coordinated by the Ministry of Environment, financed entirely from its own revenues.
What are the key responsibilities of the Environment Fund Administration (EFA) and its current priorities?
EFA is an economic and financial tool of the Environment Ministry, which keeps 10% of environmental fees collected for its own subsistence and redistributes the rest of the 90% into environmental protection projects. When we talk about our environment and how to limit pollution, what we are in fact dealing with is soil quality, air and water quality, and indeed human life quality.
Romania is truly a great country, with intelligent, hard working people and a keen sense for business and progress. We had the good fortune to be blessed with hydro, wind and solar capabilities, as well as technological savviness, and we need to all work together to protect our environment and advance our economy at the same time.
You are working on a number of well known projects, such as Casa Verde encouraging prosumers, among others – what are the goals behind these and how well are they progressing?
The Casa Verde project targets pollution reduction through the encouragement of green energy adoption in residential homes. While industrial buildings or block of flats are already covered in various manners, individual houses were left without any kind of subsidy scheme. We are financing 90% the installation of solar panels with a minimum 3 KW capacity, limited at up to approximately EUR 4,000 per kit. The program has been extremely well received and we expect it will be assimilated by consumers at a fast and efficient pace, not dissimilar to how Rabla was integrated. The legislation was amended to integrate the prosumer in the framework and allow individuals to transfer energy back into the grid.
In order to limit the often complex bureaucracy involved in such projects we introduced the operators as an in-between for residential users in dealing with large energy providers and with the authorities. The first step is now underway, wherein certified operators are applying for implementing the equipment. Individuals can then choose from a list of approved operators, acquire needed certifications, commit the 10% that they need to fund themselves, and then they can proceed to have the solar panels installed. The bulk of the paperwork and approvals are to be handled by the operators. The government budget set aside for this should cover roughly 30,000 households, divided up evenly amongst the country’s regions.
Another key project that took on well was Rabla, what can you tell us about Rabla Plus in the context of global adoption of electrical vehicles?
Indeed Rabla has been in motion for several years and has at its core the need for Romania to renew its vehicles and auto-park. Last year marked 50,000 units financed through the program. Rabla Plus is dedicated to plug-in and fully electric cars, and Romania in fact offers a EUR 10,000 incentive for going electric, the highest subsidy in the EU. This is a testament to the seriousness with which we address emission reduction and to our commitment to adopt new, improved technologies. In addition, electrical cars are also financially viable, given the higher costs of conventional fuels.
Naturally this initiative needs to be complemented by an efficient charging station infrastructure. Consequently, we created a subsidy scheme to encourage the construction of electrical charging stations, firstly focused on country capitals. The second stage of the subsidy comes to support the building of stations interconnecting the cities through a nation wide network on national roads, built at a maximum 150 km apart. We estimate this project to be completed by the summer of 2020.
Cross-institutional collaboration is crucial for the well functioning of the state apparatus, and we noticed EFA values this – how do you evaluate your collaboration with the Ministry of Energy, as well as with the industry?
We have a very good interaction, in most part due to a simple matter of human talent and the compatibility we appear to have at the moment. Instead of building rivalries I think we have come to terms with the crucial need for us to work side by side to get the policies and projects we are working on to fruition. For instance we collaborated with ANRE to integrate the prosumer into the legislation, or to release the technical permit for installing solar panels in 90 days instead of six months, the standard for industrial applications.
We also aim to communicate and understand the needs of the industry, the costs of implementation, their technical capabilities and so on. We also spoke to solar panel producers about the importance of quality – we will be monitoring this project for six years during which time we expect the panels to suffer minor or reasonable deterioration.
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