Discover what CAEs are and how to save money with them

CAEs are Energy Savings Certificates, they certify a certain annual energy saving achieved after having implemented an energy-saving measure (one CAE is equivalent to a saving of 1 kWh of energy per year). The CAE system that we will address in this article is valid for energy saving actions that have been implemented as of 26 January 2023 (including that day). 

The regulation that currently governs these CAEs in Spain is Royal Decree 36/2023 of 24 January, which transposes European regulations largely determined by the Paris Agreement of 2015.

Why are Energy Saving Certificates so important?

Taking energy-saving measures usually involves an economic cost, since the person or company that implements them in their installations needs to make an investment to achieve this.

With these measures, companies hope to achieve energy savings that will obviously lead to economic savings. If a specific measure enables you to save electricity or heating, in the future your yearly expenditure on these supplies will be reduced. But in order to implement the measure, you will probably need to make an investment. This will be recovered later once the savings have been made.

The main benefit of the CAEs lies right there, in the economic aspect, since they represent a different means for someone investing in efficiency to cover these costs, because they act like a security or an asset that can be sold to energy companies.

 

Who is interested in buying a CAE?

We have just seen that the ownership of savings is a concept that can be sold, and we emphasise that their main characteristic is that they have the ability to act as a title or asset that can be appraised and sold, with the resulting economic return for the holder. This is possible because the legislative framework ensures that there will be agents interested in buying them.

The interested agents are the Obligated Parties, who according to the regulations in force are the gas and electricity retailers, the wholesale distributors of petroleum products and the wholesale distributors of liquefied petroleum gas.

These companies are obliged by law to contribute annually, providing resources for the financing of the Energy Efficiency National Fund (FNEE in Spanish), which was created by Law 18/2014, depends on the Ministry of Ecological Transition, and aims to finance national energy efficiency initiatives. One of the ways it can achieve this is by providing subsidies for the adoption of energy-saving measures, savings that are then presented as justification to the European Union. In other words, these Obliged Parties basically contribute money to the FNEE, and then the Fund distributes that money with aid, subsidies, or measures in general that seek to achieve energy savings in companies and society.

But we know that the Obligated Parties can also choose to contribute to the FNEE (Energy Efficiency National Fund) not with money, but with CAEs, so they will always be interested in assessing and purchasing the ownership of these savings in order to convert them into Energy Saving Certificates. They may be more interested in buying CAEs that will enable them to meet their obligations to the FNEE, rather than directly paying the money that corresponds to the FNEE each year.

So it is very possible that your electricity or gas company may wish to buy the Energy-Saving Certificates that you have obtained by implementing energy efficiency measures, which will provide you with additional income in addition to the energy savings achieved with this measure.

It is worth mentioning that there are also Delegated Parties, which are companies that can help Obligated Parties to obtain CAEs, and they make a commitment to acquire a certain number of CAEs on their behalf each year. It is important to know this, because later we will see the process that needs to be followed to generate a CAE and to monetise it, because as mentioned above, you can contact not only the electricity or gas company, but also the appointed representative with whom they have signed an agreement.

 

What energy efficiency measures can generate CAEs?

You should think of taking actions such as changing to efficient lighting, replacing an air conditioning generator with an air-to-air heat pump, renovating or replacing windows to install more efficient thermal windows, rehabilitating a building to improve energy efficiency, or replacing an existing combustion boiler with a heat pump.

These are just a few examples, but you will find a comprehensive catalogue of standardised measures for energy efficiency in the Resolution in the General Directorate of Energy Policy of 20 October 2023.

The actions taken with a view to obtaining a CAE may be standardised (those that are easily replicable and included in the catalogue) or alternatively they may be unique (those that are more complex or specific and not included in the catalogue).

We should add that the financing of energy efficiency actions taken with a view to obtaining Energy Saving Certificates (CAEs) will generally be compatible with public aid or subsidy programmes, but they will never be compatible with subsidies, aid or programmes financed by the Energy Efficiency National Fund (FNEE in Spanish) (Order TED / 815/2023, of 18 July, article 14.8).

 

How do you get the CAE?

There needs to be an Energy Savings Verifier, an entity accredited by ENAC (National Accreditation Entity) that checks that the action has been taken, that the documentation is correct and that the declared energy savings have been achieved.

The Verifier generates a file in which it certifies that the action complies with the requirements established by the Energy Efficiency Directive and by the rest of the applicable regulations in force.

Only Obligated Parties and Delegated Parties may request the issue of CAEs, after having previously obtained favourable verification issued by an Energy Savings Verifier, for the action or actions corresponding to the application.

This means that the owner of the energy saving, who is the one who has taken the action for which the CAE is intended to be obtained, needs to sign a collaboration agreement with an Obligated Party or with a Delegated Party. This party will then contract the independent Verifier.

The Verifier processes the file electronically with the agent in the autonomous region, since the responsibilities are assigned to the administration of each Autonomous Community (normally a managing body dependent on the Regional Ministry of Industry). The regional body works in collaboration with the National Coordinator of the CAE system, which reports to the Ministry of Ecological Transition.

Once the process has been completed, the owner of the savings is awarded the CAEs, and can sell them to an Obligated Party (as detailed above, an electricity or gas retailer, wholesale petroleum products operator, or wholesale liquefied petroleum gas operator), or to the corresponding Delegated Party.

 

Example of how Energy Saving Certificates work

Here is a quick example to help you understand how CAEs work:

We can give you the example of a company that undertakes an energy efficiency measure in its installations, which will save 60,000 kWh of electricity on their bill each year.

They contact an Obligated Party, for example, their electricity retailer, and by signing an agreement, a Verifier is contracted who then accredits to the administrative authorities that an annual saving of 60,000 kWh has been and as a result obtains the corresponding Energy Saving Certificates.

If, for example, the price agreed between this company and its electricity retailer for the CAEs is €0.1/kWh, each CAE represents, as detailed above, 1 kWh of savings per year. If 60,000 CAEs have been obtained as a result of implementing an efficiency measure, this means that the income achieved in this case would be €6,000.

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