The European Investment Bank and European Commission have approved two new energy efficiency projects under the European Local Energy Assistance (ELENA) programme aimed at helping cities and regions meet Europe’s climate policy goals. The first of the projects signed will convert a district heating network serving 25,000 homes and businesses in the Netherlands to renewable energy sources. The announcement was made on the margins of the Committee of the Region’s “Open Days” in Brussels, during which EIB organised a workshop on the Europe 2020 themes of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

The project, being implemented by Stadsverwarming Purmerend BV, is expected to produce a 30 percent improvement in efficiency of Purmerend’s district heating network. Heat in future will be generated from a mix of geothermal and biomass energy sources. In total, the project is expected to save an estimated 100,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year. It will receive an ELENA grant of EUR 1.8 million to support procurement and implementation of the project, which has an investment cost around 45 times higher.

European Investment Bank Vice President Simon Brooks, responsible for EIB financing in the Netherlands and also the bank’s environmental operations, said: "District heating in northern Europe offers huge potential for energy savings and reducing carbon emissions. This project is a good example of how cities can contribute to meeting the European Union's climate goals and we hope will set an example for others to follow."

Stadsverwarming Purmerend CEO Peter Odermatt said: “We are very proud that our project District Heating 2.0 has been approved by the EIB and the European Commission. District heating provides a flexible infrastructure able to integrate a wide range of renewable energy sources. Renewable heat is of key importance to a sustainable future.”

European Commission Director General for Energy, Philip Lowe, said : "It is positive to see how support from the ELENA facility can lead to significant change of energy using patterns in European cities and regions.  This project demonstrates that sustainable energy investments are an important vector of economic development and local growth. With more than 2000 cities under the Covenant of Mayors, the potential ELENA offers to mobilise investments is enormous."

The ELENA facility aims to help cities and regions implement viable investment projects in the areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy sources and sustainable urban transport, replicating success stories from other parts of Europe. Projects will be assessed by engineers and economists at the EIB. The technical assistance is funded from the Intelligent Energy Europe II (IEE) programme. Full details of the conditions attached to the grant financing and an explanatory brochure are available at:

The first ELENA project to be approved in the Province of  Barcelona, Spain, is in the process of being implemented. Projects in Italy and France are in the process of being finalised for signature.