Sustainable energy

Investments in sustainable energy include investments in renewable energy sources (RES) such as hydroelectricity, solar energy, wind energy, wave power, geothermal energy, bioenergy and tidal power; and energy efficiency technologies and measures.

Investments in sustainable energy have the potential to accelerate the spread of innovative technological solutions and improve the competitiveness of industries and SMEs, while at the same time supporting economic growth and creating high-quality jobs in related sectors. Increasing the share of RES and improving energy efficiency contributes to the diversification of energy supply, which increases energy security. Energy efficiency can also lead to cost savings, as final energy consumption is reduced. The building sector is central to the EU's energy efficiency policy: buildings are responsible for nearly 40 percent of final energy consumption and represent a large, untapped, cost-effective energy savings potential. A significant increase in public and private investments in sustainable energy, and in the energy efficiency of buildings in particular, is therefore essential if the EU is to meet its 2020 climate change and energy targets.

There are a range of opportunities for financing sustainable energy initiatives in which EU funds play a key role — for example the EU Cohesion Policy funds available for CEE countries; and funds channelled through the European Neighbourhood Policy targeting Ukraine. These funds are complemented by EU financial mechanisms, support from international financial institutions (IFIs), and market-based instruments.

Tools and methodologies


  • Guidance please add Guidance on financing energy efficiency projects in CEE and Ukraine (REC, 2016). The guidance is intended for stakeholders involved in financing energy efficiency investments and located in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), Ukraine and the other countries from Eastern Partnership. The purpose of the guidance is to support national authorities, local authorities, SMEs and other stakeholders in identifying financial opportunities for their projects on energy efficiency in buildings. The guidance will also help better understand the main obstacles to scaling up energy efficiency financing and to suggest solutions. Additionally, the authors have tried to collect and present good practices in financing energy efficiency from other EU countries.
  • Technical guidance – Financing the energy renovation of buildings with Cohesion Policy Funding (European Commission, 2014). This guidance document aims to help Cohesion Policy managing authorities plan and deploy sustainable energy investments in buildings within operational programmes (OPs). It provides examples of good practice approaches and case studies related to European requirements for energy efficiency in buildings. It also explores the various financing mechanisms that managing authorities can use to support sustainable energy projects within an OP.
  • Guidance on Energy Efficiency in Public Buildings (European PPP Expertise Centre [EPEC], 2012). This publication provides guidance for public-private partnerships in energy efficiency and disseminates related best practices, focusing on existing buildings.
  • European Commission guidance for the design of renewables support schemes (European Commission, 2013). This document explores best practices in managing the reform of public support schemes and designing the support framework for the development of renewables in a manner fully integrated with the market. Although the focus is on public interventions in the electricity sector, the principles established may also be applied in other energy sectors such as transport and heating.
  • Financing Renewable Energy in the European Energy Market (Ecofys et al., 2011). This study assesses the costs of renewable energy as well as the support and financing instruments available for renewable energy research and development, demonstration and large-scale deployment.
  • Policy Reforms for Energy Efficiency Investments (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and United Nations Development Programme, 2010). This publication offers a wide-ranging regional assessment, including case studies and recommendations for policy reforms supporting energy efficiency investments in Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine.

Information portals

Case studies

  • REsolutions Europe: Local innovations to finance cities and regions (FMDV Global Fund for Cities Development, 2014). The nine case studies in this report analyse the strategies and financial instruments available to, and developed by, European local authorities in order to mobilise financial resources more efficiently and to foster the autonomy and resilience of territories.
  • Energy Efficiency: Lessons learned from success stories (World Bank, 2013). This study analyses the energy efficiency policies of seven countries that have achieved low energy intensity or considerably reduced their energy intensity.