Hungary became the 36th formal partner and second Eastern European government to join the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) during a September 24, 2007 signing ceremony hosted by the UK Embassy in Budapest.
The partnership agreement was signed by Ministry of Economy and Transport deputy state secretary Abel Garamhegyi (as the official representative of the Hungarian government), UK ambassador to Hungary John Nichols, and director of the REEEP International Secretariat, Marianne Osterkorn. The signing ceremony was attended by representatives from ministries, embassies, energy agencies, regulators, businesses, NGOs, academia and the media.By joining forces with REEEP, Hungary intends to contribute to the development of regional policies. The Central European nation is particularly interested in cooperating with governments from neighbouring countries in the development of renewable energy and efficiency programmes.
"The Hungarian government has drafted a renewable energy strategy, and an energy efficiency strategy and action plan. Both of these areas are covered by REEEP activity," said Garamhegyi.
The government representative explained that in 2020 the renewable energy contribution to Hungary's total primary energy supply will be about 14 to 16 percent, adding that the country has already met its green electricity target of 3.6 percent (the original deadline was 2010). Hungary, however, desires to provide support for continued development of clean energy.
REEEP membership is yet another example of Hungary's plans for improved energy security and reduced dependence on fossil fuels. Establishing international cooperation links with REEEP will allow increased development of renewable energy sources, and also the ability to share experiences with neighbouring countries. Action has already been taken through enactment of the National Strategy on the Promotion of Renewable Energy sources, and also through several existing legislative initiatives.
These policy changes are creating a more favourable investment environment for the country. "The REEEP is extremely pleased that Hungary has joined. The country has the most successful energy service companies [ESCOs] in the region and, as a large agricultural producer, Hungary has enormous potential for bioenergy," stated Osterkorn, REEEP's international director. The Hungarian Ministry of Economy and Transport will act as the government's representative to REEEP.
REEEP is active globally, with over 80 on-the-ground projects targeting the development of innovative policy or financial models that can be replicated by governments and project developers worldwide. In Eastern Europe the partnership provides cooperation, networking and training for various stakeholders (e.g. local governments, regulators, policy makers and experts), and also transfers best practices throughout the region and works with municipalities to remove barriers to energy efficiency.
The REEEP partnership has more than 220 members, including all G8 countries, minus Russia. Argentina, Romania, Singapore, Switzerland and Tunisia all climbed on board in 2006 to support domestic renewable energy and energy efficiency programmes.