Last Wednesday, the 15th of July, EURADA organised a webinar on the role of green public procurement in the energy sector in Europe. The webinar “Green companies for green regions and green cities. The role of green public procurement to foster innovations in renewables” virtually gathered more than 20 Belgian regional/local authorities and innovative green companies that to discuss European and Belgian procurement rules, barriers to SME involvement in Green Public Procurement (GPP), and solutions.
The participants agreed on the fact that the main obstacle for SMEs to collaborate with public authorities is to establish a relationship with the procurement department. Usually, SMEs and public authorities work on different timescales, moreover, there is a different mindset because it is necessary to find a balance between public procurement officers and SMEs (which have more of a “try and see” approach). Entrepreneurs have less administrative internal political barriers and go forward for tests, but then they have to wait for months because of the procedures, legal advice, etc. This approach takes up so much time and wastes so many resources. Fortunately, during the webinar two solutions were identified which could help a lot: 1) taking the time to comply with any request for the clients, and 2) collaborating with third parties, such as departments and university labs.
In details, the webinar featured three illustrated speakers: Jovana Gojkovic from Aqua Publica Europea, Alexandre Mahfoudh from Fuel Matrix, and Lies Debbaut, the project coordinator of the Interreg 2 Seas project SHIFFT.
Jovana Gojkovic, senior officer of Aqua Publica Europea, the European Association of Public Water Operators, illustrated the achievements made through the SMART: Met project. This project aims to drive the development of Smart Water Metering system that is new, cost-effective, efficient, interoperable, and based on open standards. The project is based on Pre-commercial Procurement (PCP). It is the stage to have procurements of research and the development of new innovative solutions before they are launched on the market. According to Gojkovic, PCP involves multiple suppliers competing with each other through different phases of the process:
- Phase 1: The research and design of the solution aim to demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed concepts for new solutions
- Phase 2: Prototyping is intended for the development and evaluation of the most promising prototypes: the selected contractors each develop a prototype based on the results of their feasibility study.
- Phase 3: Field tests are intended for the development of a limited volume of tests on the first products and the field test activities: they aim to verify and compare the complete set of features and the performance of different solutions in real operating conditions
PCP is a particular procurement procedure for the acquisition of research and development services for new innovative solutions before they become available on the market. Moreover, the PCP introduces a change on the market, allowing the public sector to purchase R&D services to guide the development of solutions suited to their needs. Therefore, the PCP allows the public sector to purchase the R&D results of different suppliers in parallel, comparing approaches between alternative solutions, competitively evaluating the progress following the crucial phases (design, prototyping, testing phase).
Mr Alexandre Mahfoudh works for Fuel Matrix, a company that designs solutions for the transition of vehicles into a greener future economy. The company has developed a technology that alters the intermolecular forces of hydrocarbon fuels to make them burn more efficiently in combustion engines. By developing this new kind of fuel, Fuel Matrix has been able to: cut emission (up to -80% and improving the air quality for everyone), make fuel savings (15-20% increase in fuel efficiency), and self-financed depollution. Fuel Matrix technology is protected by U.S. patents awarded in 2018 and numerous international filings. It has also been tested in official laboratories (University of California, Center for Environmental Research and Technology). Mr Mahfoudh illustrated to the audience a Belgian example. 47 public buses from TEC – a public bus company in Belgium – used fuel treated with Fuel Matrix for all their daily operations. After 6 months of testing, the results showed fuel savings of 15%.
The last speaker of the workshop was Lies Debbaut, SHIFFT (Sustainable Heating, Implementation of Fossil-Free Technologies) project coordinator. The objective of the project is to increase the adoption of low carbon technologies and applications in sectors that have the potential for high reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The project consortium has created comprehensive guidelines for local authorities (Bruges and other cities) and community groups to facilitate and accelerate the transition to sustainable heat for houses and community buildings. These guidelines present policy options, solutions and practical tools to tackle the barriers for this transition. SHIFFT is also willing to create a sustainable heating transition with the local community, assuring the strategy takes place. The project has had some important outputs such CO2 reductions of 276 tonnes per year, through 106 houses installing sustainable heating.