SOLE explains technical, financial and legal barriers to energy rehabilitation of public buildings in the Mediterranean


The SOLE project, co-funded by ENI CBC MED Programme, aims to carry out cost-effective and innovative energy rehabilitation interventions on 7 public buildings in the following Mediterranean countries : Lebanon, Tunisia, Egypt, Italy, Spain, Greece and Jordan.

To reach this goal, each partner must develop a Local Pilot Action Plan, which technically explains how the works on the selected buildings will be carried out, and a Pilot Action Funding Plan to identify and test a mixed funding approach, thanks to partnerships with ESCOs (Energy Service Companies) [1]and funding bodies.

But how challenging is it to plan and fund an energy rehabilitation pilot project in practice? 

The Italian partner, Agenzia Regionale Recupero Risorse (ARRR), answered this question by collecting all the partners’ Pilot Action Funding Plans and carrying out an in-depth analysis. 

Here are the main barriers identified by ARRR:

A) Technical aspects

  • lack of data on the energy performance of buildings;
  • lack of expertise in the development of large retrofit business plans;
  • limited capacity of local authorities in the development of business models and projects for reducing energy consumption.

B) Economic and financing aspects (in some countries)

  • lack of financing support to co-finance energy efficiency investments and demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of energy efficiency projects to the investors.

C) Legal and institutional aspects (in some countries)

  • difficulties for companies to be accredited as ESCOs;
  • lack of procurement procedures that allow ESCOs and private investors to co-finance investments in public assets and to provide loans and incentives to reduce the interventions' payback period;
  • lack of expertise and of a legal framework on innovative forms of procurement for the energy refurbishment of public buildings such as the Energy Performance Contract (EPC)[2];
  • excessive bureaucracy.

The SOLE pilot projects have often highlighted the need for a new regulatory regime to unlock private investment to support the retrofit of public buildings and the installation of renewable energy sources. Moreover, complementing the SOLE budget with other available funding / incentives is extremely challenging due to project timing or administrative constraints.

In the light of this, the engagement of local stakeholders so that they see the project impacts / results and work on proposals for new policy measures becomes even more relevant.

ARRR's analysis on partners’ Pilot Action Funding Plans will be published soon, stay tuned.


[1] Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) are companies providing energy services to final energy users, including the supply and installations of energy efficient equipment, and/or the building refurbishment. What characterises these companies is the fact that they can also finance or arrange financing for the operation and their remuneration is directly tied to the energy savings achieved.


[2] Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) is a form of ‘creative financing’ for capital improvement which allows funding energy upgrades from cost reductions.