Institutional efforts for the transition to green energy

One system or individual countries?

On June 4, 2024, the Interreg Danube SMEnergy project consortium organized a workshop to share knowledge and good practices from the implementation and support of the green energy transition of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The workshop aimed to analyze and organize the current landscape, national initiatives, support schemes, opportunities and challenges faced by SMEs in eight countries in the Danube region and their transition to green energy. What were the main findings? The following brief provides the highlights of the workshop.

The event provided SMEnergy partners with valuable information on the initiatives of official decision-making bodies in their respective regions. It also facilitated mutual learning, enabling a deeper understanding of institutional incentives and support schemes in each country.

Why focus on energy-intensive SMEs?

In the context of the green transition, most initiatives emphasize on large companies or major consumers, often bypassing SMEs. However, SMEs, which make up 99.8% of all businesses in Europe, are crucial to the European economy, employing 64.4% of the workforce and contributing to 51.8% of EU value added. In 2022, 24.3 million European SMEs employed approximately 84.9 million workers. The SMEnergy project is specifically aimed at energy-intensive SMEs.

The term “energy-intensive” refers to businesses, for which energy costs constitute a significant portion of total costs. This percentage varies widely depending on the industry and specific circumstances. Typically, if energy costs exceed 2-5% of a company’s total costs, it is considered energy-intensive. In some sectors, such as zinc and aluminum production, this ratio can reach 40-50%.

Significant differences in the green energy mixes of individual countries

For energy-intensive companies, the main concern is the type of green energy available to SMEs in their country. The share of green energy in total energy production varies substantially from country to country. Among the eight nations, Austria leads with green energy accounting for 31.7% of its energy production in 2022, while Hungary and Slovenia lag behind with 12.9%.

The green energy mix within these eight countries, as part of the SMEnergy initiative, demonstrates significant diversity in electricity production and consumption, influenced by local characteristics and resources. According to electricity maps, for example, Austria relies heavily on hydro energy, while wind energy has grown in Germany and Hungary has seen an explosive increase in solar panels in recent years.


Nuclear energy continues to play a crucial role in several countries, including Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia and Slovakia, contributing many terawatt hours (TWh) to their energy production.

How are governments helping the green transition of SMEs?

The global landscape of green energy transformation presents a complex and contentious scenario. In some countries, a robust and complex network of energy agencies continuously supports the transition of small and medium-sized enterprises. These countries benefit from a diverse array of energy professionals and suppliers, who offer innovative green energy solutions. Conversely, in other regions funding or loans are only offered periodically, usually within specific project support campaigns.

Source: Presentation of the Development Agency of Republika Srpska

The effectiveness of a country’s green transition policy, clearly articulated and widely communicated by the government, plays a crucial role. Equally important is the contribution of business communities that promote best practices, the removal of administrative barriers that facilitate access to green energy, and the consumer-friendly approaches of major electricity providers offering the necessary infrastructure.

What comes next?

The collected materials on green transition initiatives from the various countries represent a real treasure not only for the consortium, but also for the entire European community. The information and conclusions of the presentations present a well-defined structure and variety of institutional incentives that serve as excellent working examples for central decision-making bodies to promote the green transition. The consortium is currently working on a general presentation and plans to publish the conclusions and policy recommendations in the second half of 2024.


For additional information, please visit the project’s official website:
Or contact the Business Support Centre for Small and Medium Enterprises – Ruse: