Medener: The Mediterranean Association of National Agencies for Energy Management

21 June 2019 - // Features
Roberta Boniotti
Secretary-General, Mediterranean Association of National Agencies for Energy Management (MEDENER)

The Mediterranean region is blessed with a wealth of natural resources, including renewable energy sources that are being exploited in sustainable ways for the transition to cleaner economies and more prosperous society on all shores of the sea. MEDENER and their flagship project called meetMED are an example of things to come for a brighter future around the Mediterranean.

MEDENER is the Mediterranean Association of National Agencies for Energy Management. Created in Tunis in 1997 as an international non-profit organisation, MEDENER brings together 13 national energy agencies from the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean. MEDENER aims to include more countries in the future.

Since 1997, MEDENER has facilitated the sharing of experiences, know-how and best practices among its members and international partners. MEDENER has accelerated the transfer of skills, methodologies and technologies related to energy efficiency and renewable energy sources; and MEDENER has assisted Mediterranean countries with the design and implementation of energy management projects such as meetMED, a 2-year EU-funded project that started in May 2018.

Thanks to a constant exchange of best practices, MEDENER members mutually reinforce each other when facing critical climatic and energetic challenges. MEDENER relies on the expertise of a network of more than 1,000 experts in different sectors, working in close cooperation with national central administrations, by providing them expertise to design energy efficiency (EE) and renewable energy (RE) policies and programmes. Internal to MEDENER, national agencies establish synergies among public administrations, private sector, local authorities and financial institutions, that create a stimulating economic environment for the energy transition around the Mediterranean.

The predictable and reliable winds that makes Prasonisi Bay a famous spot for for windsurfing and kitesurfing also make it a smart choice for the placement of wind turbines. Rhodes Island, Greece. Photo: Marco Taliani de Marchio

All the initiatives carried out by MEDENER through bilateral or multilateral cooperation in the areas of EE and RE aim to trigger important improvements in the legal and regulatory framework of the southern and eastern Mediterranean countries, including the adoption of national action plans on EE and RE (NEEAP and NREAP) as well as the development of thermal regulations for buildings, EE audits in the industry sector, solar thermal certification and standardisation programmes.

MEDENER activities perfectly fit the guiding principles of the EU foreign policy based on advancing and consolidating strong multilateralism, sustainable security and cooperative autonomy. MEDENER participates in the work on sustainable development performed by the Union for Mediterranean (UfM), inasmuch as the harmonization and strong coordination of the activities among the three UfM Platforms – the Regional Electricity Market Platform, the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Platform and the Gas Platform – have a strong potential to strengthen global energy policy in the Mediterranean region.

Since the climate and energy framework of the 2015 Paris Agreement needs to be enforced and energy poverty is spreading, the transition to an efficient and RES-based energy system lies at the core of MEDENER activities. Since 2013, MEDENER has been holding its Annual Conference, focusing each year on a different aspect of energy transition in the Mediterranean area. Both the 6th and the 7th MEDENER International Conference are to be organised as part of the activities of the meetMED project.

In 2018, the 6th MEDENER International Conference was held in Amman, Jordan and provided an insight into one of the most debated topics related to energy efficiency: the linkage between energy prices and energy efficiency measures, particularly with respect to end users and families in some countries of the southern shore of the Mediterranean, where prices are often tariffs and strongly supported by the State. The 6th MEDENER Conference acknowledged the central role of energy prices as the main bottleneck for EE and RE investments wherever electricity prices are very low, and as one of the main prerequisites for energy policy to work effectively.

A solar panel used by Bedouins in the desert of Wadi Rum as an alternative to diesel generators, Jordan. Photo: Wandel Guides

Regarding energy pricing, support mechanisms to RES could become impracticable, when incentives exceed the costs of the commodity faced by the consumers, while energy efficiency remains difficult to foster as long as end-users have no incentives to invest in EE measures or to change consumption behaviors. To solve this dilemma, MEDENER identified two potential solutions: in the short-term, adapting to the specificities of national energy markets and entrusting the public institutions to lead by example on the benefits of investing in renewables and energy efficiency; and in the medium- and long-term, to strive for a harmonized Mediterranean energy market while bearing in mind that energy markets alone will not be able to act alone against the effects of climate change.

The 7th MEDENER Conference will take place on 26 September 2019 in Rhodes, Greece, and will focus on the role of sustainable energy solutions for islands and remote areas, as islands in the Mediterranean region are frontrunners in the energy transition and showcase innovative solutions to the lack of adequate energy, water, communication and transport networks. Energy systems in Southern and Eastern Mediterranean Countries (SEMCs) – and in their remote areas – share common constraints with energy systems in islands as both need to tackle without delay the challenges related to energy transition, to improve resilience to climate change and to implement circular economy solutions. Nevertheless, both can immediately benefit from technological innovation. Achieving energy independence in island and remote energy systems will exemplify the clean energy transition around the Mediterranean countries and beyond.

Register for the 7th MEDENER International Conference:

Roberta Boniotti
Secretary-General, Mediterranean Association of National Agencies for Energy Management (MEDENER)

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