The energy efficiency rules have been in preparation by the European Union since 2007 aiming at reducing primer energy consumption as part of the Europe 2020 strategy. As a result, Directive of the European Parliament and Council 2012/27/EU has been adopted introducing energy audits and making them compulsory for undertakings, which do not qualify as small or medium enterprises (SME). Act LVII of 2015 on energy efficiency (Energy Efficiency Act) has been passed in this EU regulatory environment transposing the requirements of the directive into Hungarian law and making it compulsory for all non-SME undertakings to carry out energy audits.

What Is An Energy Audit?

The energy audit aims at surveying the operation of the given large enterprise from an energy use perspective. According to the executive decree to the Energy Efficiency Act, the energy audit must

  1. review the energy sources use and their costs,
  2. review consumption trends, base values and specific values,
  3. search for and present points where energy may be wasted,
  4. survey  and  analyze  more  cost  effective  ways  to  use  energy,  possibilities  to  use renewable energy sources and more advanced processes and new equipment.

It is worth noting that the report prepared based on the audit must determine potential savings and recommended courses of action based on detailed calculations.

The energy audit is different from the energy certificate; the latter extends only to particular facilities and not the whole of the undertaking's operation.

Which Enterprises Are Impacted?

All enterprises shall carry out energy audits that do not qualify as SMEs in accordance with Act XXXIV of 2004 on small and medium enterprises. Related and partner companies must also be included in the assessment according to Act XXXIV of 2004.

The following qualify as SMEs and therefore do not have to complete energy audits

  1. the total number of employees is less than 250; and
  2. the annual net turnover does not exceed the equivalent of EUR 50 million or the balance sheet total does not exceed the equivalent of EUR 43 million.

Special rules and exceptions apply to certain related and partner companies.

What Duties Do Impacted Companies Have?

Large enterprises required  to carry out energy audits must complete their first audit  by December 5, 2015 and do an audit every four years.

Energy audits completed between December 4, 2012 and December 5, 2015 may be acceptable under certain conditions even if those were carried out by auditors who are not listed in the register of energy auditors (see below).

Large enterprises operating their energy management systems by EN ISO 50001 are exempted from the energy audit requirement but must send their relevant certificate to the Hungarian Energy and Public Utility Authority (HEPURA).

According to the Energy Efficiency Act, HEPURA will not levy fines until December 31, 2016 for failure to complete an energy audit in order to allow sufficient time for enterprises to prepare for complying with the law. After this date, fines may run up to HUF 10 million (approx. EUR 32,000) or, in the case of repeated non-compliance, up to HUF 15 million (approx. EUR 48,000).

Who Is Entitled To Do The Audit?

Energy auditors registered by HEPURA are entitled to carry out energy audits required by the Energy Efficiency Act.

The request to be registered can be filed through so-called registering organizations, which are to ensure that the applicants comply with the legal requirements certified by successful exams organized by the registering organizations and required documents. Currently, the only registering organization is the Hungarian Chamber of Engineers organizing energy auditor exams since October 2015.

There are possibilities for energy audits to be provided as cross -border services by energy audit companies domiciled in a Member State of the European Economic Area provided that they are permitted to carry out energy audits in their home jurisdiction. In this case, the energy auditor must have the educational background and practical experience required by Hungarian law and must file a notification to the HEPURA through a registering organization.