The energy transition also runs through public authorities: let’s take stock of the situation

Prepared by Energy Team

The energy efficiency potential, also given the growing need to determine alternatives to gas supply, is at the core of the national public debate and represents one of the pillars of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) in the broader perspective of the ecological transition goals imposed at both European and national level.

In this context, significant relevance is attributed to the potential requalification of public real estate assets.

According to the data reported by the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA) there are more than 13,000 buildings in the Public Administration with an average energy consume of around 4.3 TWh per year, for a total expenditure of Euro 644 million[1].

In such context, the regulatory framework of reference is rather composite. First of all, the Legislative Decree 102/2014, that has implemented the Directive 2012/27/EU concerning energy efficiency, regulates the measures to improve the energy performance of public administration buildings. In particular, Article 5 of the Legislative Decree 102/2014, which represents a provision of a programmatic nature, provides for the implementation of works on central Public Administration buildings, including peripheral buildings, starting from 2014 and until 2030, with the goal of achieving an energy requalification of such buildings of at least 3 percent per year of the air-conditioned usable covered area.

In this regard, the Ministry of Economic Development in agreement with the Ministry of Transition Ecology Environment and Protection of Land and Sea, in consult with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport (MIT) and in collaboration with the Public Property Agency (Agenzia del Demanio) is required to prepare by November 30 of each year a plan of measures aimed at improving the energy performance of the buildings of the central Public Administration (the so-called PREPAC), upon proposal – by June 30 of each year – of the central Public Administrations, also with the support of the MIT’s Interregional Public Works Superintendencies or of the Public Property Agency (Agenzia del Demanio)[2].

The procedures for the implementation of the PREPAC are regulated by a MISE Decree dated September 16, 2016 and by the Guidelines published by ENEA and the GSE in June 2017 containing the general criteria and operational guidelines for the preparation and submission by interested operators of project proposals in order to be admitted to the PREPAC.

The PREPAC is financed by both the funds allocated into the State budget by the Cassa per i servizi energetici e ambientali – funds originating from the payment of “Emission Trading Systems (Eu-ETS)” contributions by large companies operating within the EU – and the revenues provided for in Article 22, paragraph 4, of Legislative Decree No. 28 of March 3, 2011 (former “Fondo teleriscaldamento”).

Specifically, for the implementation of the PREPAC in the 2014-2020 period, the resources made available were equal to Euro 355 mln and the eligible projects were 230 for an amount equal to Euro 315.8 mln[3].

Moreover, for the period from 2021-2030, the annual budget to be allocated for the implementation of works included in PREPAC is equal to Euro 50 mln, as a result of Legislative Decree 73/2020, that has implemented Directive (EU) 2018/2002 amending Directive 2012/27/EU on energy efficiency.

It is also worth noting that during the conversion of Decree Law 21/2022 (so-called “Decreto taglia Prezzi”), has been proposed an amendment to the law concerning the PREPAC with the aim of broadening the range of works eligible for the PREPAC.

In particular, with regard to real estate assets not subjected to protection under Legislative Decree no. 42 of January 22, 2004, “works for the installation of systems for the production of renewable energy and related energy storage systems” could be admitted to the PREPAC financing program “provided that the heating and cooling systems located in the aforementioned real estate assets are modified at the same time, in order to make the most of the renewable energy produced”. The amendment seems to be aimed at bringing more clarity than the express inclusion of such facilities in the works that can be financed through PREPAC, which to date have only been mentioned in the guidelines.

With the same perspective of enhancing the value of public entities’ assets, further financial measures are provided under Art. 15, co. 1 of Legislative Decree 102/2014, establishing the National Fund for Energy Efficiency (Fondo Nazionale per l’efficienza energetica)[4]. Such measures are designed not only for central public administrations but also for local administrations.

The works, to be carried out on buildings, plants and production processes concern, in particular, reduction of energy consumption in industrial processes, realization and expansion of district heating networks, energy requalification of buildings and efficiency improvement of public services and infrastructures, including public lighting.

The fund is financed by an annual allocation for the period 2014-2030 up to Euro 15 million from the MISE and up to Euro 35 million from the MiTE.

In addition to the above, there is also the Conto Termico, managed by the GSE and implemented starting from 2012 in order to incentivize, among other things, works for energy requalification and for thermal energy production from renewable sources for small-scale plants (it should be recalled that PREPAC does not provide, on the contrary, size limits).

The Conto Termico allocates up to Euro 200 million per year in relation to works on buildings owned by both central and local public administration through the financing of up to 65 percent of the expenses incurred for maintenance works on the building surface and systems that increase their energy efficiency.

These are the essential features of the regulatory framework underlying Mission 2, Component 3 of the PNRR entitled “energy efficiency and requalification of buildings”, which provides for the allocation of more than Euro 15 billion to increase the energy efficiency of the public and private buildings, of which more than Euro 1 billion is allocated for the efficiency of public buildings, including schools and courthouses[5].

Nevertheless, such investment strategy introduced by the PNRR, which is additional to the financial measures described above, has connections with such measures, since it also aims to strengthen the National Energy Efficiency Fund and to facilitate the speed up of the implementation phase of the projects financed through PREPAC.

Pursuant to the targets set by the National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan (PNIEC) – which already provides for ambitious efficiency targets – the Component at the stake envisages savings of 209 Ktep per year of final energy and 718 KtCO2 per year when fully implemented (starting from 2027).

With the PNRR, therefore, the national regulatory framework has further enriched and consolidated financial instruments and investments strategies to support the energy requalification of the central and local public administration buildings.

In such regard, in order to achieve the public sector’s decarbonization goals, it may be appropriate that such purely economic intervention guidelines are complemented by measures aimed at removing non-financial barriers limiting the attractiveness of such investments to private operators.

In this perspective, a good start could be a structural simplification of the permitting processes linked to the implementation of these interventions together with a greater use by the relevant public authorities of instruments already provided under our framework such as Public Private Partnership mechanisms and, particularly, Energy Performance Contracts.

[1] Data taken from the telematics platform of the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development – Energy Efficiency Unit Department.

[2] The Public Property Agency (Agenzia del Demanio) has been recently given the role of “facilitator” in the phase of preparation of project proposals as a result of Article 19 of the Energy Decree converted into Law last April 27.

[3] Data provided by Corte dei Conti, deliberation of July 12, 2021 on energy efficiency works concerning central Public Administration buildings

[4] As a result of the Decree of MISE of December 22, 2017, the management of this fund has been entrusted to Invitalia and it is aimed at supporting efficiency improvements, among other things, on buildings owned by Public Administrations, with the involvement of financial institutions, national and EU, and private investors on the basis of appropriate risk sharing.

[5] The planned works on public buildings, to be completed by 2026, concern approximately 195 school buildings and 48 courthouses.

Let’s Talk

For a deeper discussion, please contact:

Tommaso Tomaiuolo

PwC TLS Avvocati e Commercialisti



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