How does the mechanism of energy savings certificates trading work?

Is inter-OP (obligated party) trading always allowed?

There are no provisions that allow or not allow trading. Each Member State that set up an energy efficiency obligation scheme is responsible for the design of its EEO which shall deliver the amount of required energy savings. Some Member States opted for trading between obligated parties (e.g. Denmark, Great Britain, Ireland, Poland), others for trading between obligated and third parties (e.g. France, Italy).

Third-party (non-OP) certificate generation (and trading): in which MS is this allowed? What are success factors and pitfalls of such systems?

France and Italy are examples where third parties can generate energy savings certificates.

Trading adds complexity and is not recommended in the initial phase of EEOs. It can increase transaction costs and raises concerns on windfall returns. It is essential that simple processes are provided for notifying of any inter-obligated parties trade of certificates. If third-party certificate generation is allowed, then a trading platform may be considered.  

In France, the certificates are administered through a national online Register "Emmy". Obligated parties and third parties have electronic accounts and can directly prove their savings through Emmy. In addition, Emmy serves as a marketplace for purchases and sales of certificates.

In Italy, obligated parties and voluntary parties participate in the White Certificate System. 90% of the white certificates are issued for projects realised by voluntary parties. The trading also takes place via an online register. Once a project is approved, the white certificates are issued by GME (Gestore the servizi energetici, a state-owned Company that manages the white certificates). Trading takes place once a week on the GME spot market. In addition, there is a GME platform for bilateral arrangements between buyers and sellers.

Would a pan-EU white certificate market (cf. ETS) be a possibility?

In the long-term a pan-EU “White Certificate” scheme could be a possibility to incentivize the market conditions for energy savings and help to find the most cost-effective solutions for energy efficiency across Europe. Many obligated parties operate in different Member States and would be able to realise energy savings measures on the customer side. Third parties could actively participate in trading across borders. But this would imply a more standardised design of a white certificate system which is not intended by the current EED, e.g. an Europe-wide list of eligible measures, calculation methods etc. needs to be specified and applied in all Member States.

White certificate system and EU ETS have different approaches (energy savings targets vs. emission reduction targets; obligated parties/third party involvement vs. EU ETS companies/installations; measures realised on end-consumer side vs. measures primarily realised on installation). On a long-term perspective, it can be considered to include all sectors in EU ETS in order to avoid having different trading systems in place.