Energy policies as the bridge between “consumers” and “citizens”

Céline Carré, Head of EU Public Affairs, Saint-Gobain

The energy consumer will be a catalyst towards a decentralized and decarbonized energy system as stipulated in the European Commission’s Clean Energy for All Europeans communication. He/she will be able to change energy supplier, monitor and adapt consumption pattern, and produce energy.

But how to reconcile these opportunities with the imperative to meet our European 2050 climate goals and subsequently reduce energy demand? How to reinvent consumption in a way that values the services provided by energy, e.g. mobility, warmth, or light, instead of perpetuating a production-consumption-wastage model?

As a simple value proposition to help consumer take ownership of the transition, energy efficiency is a recipe for aligning short term actions and long-term goals, individual and collective responsibilities, and, not least, rich and poor.

Energy efficiency reduces our import dependency and provides continuous growth and jobs impetus. It helps consumers reduce their bills and quit energy poverty, and it makes our lives healthier. Without it, global energy demand today would be fifty percent higher for buildings only, and the prospect of a net zero carbon society by 2050 would be a foolish dream since electricity demand is set to double in sectors like housing and transport.

The question is how to ensure that energy efficiency plays the role it deserves for consumers to benefit from the transition. The following five guiding concepts suggest ways to overcome the risks of inconsistent signals to consumers.

Align vision and action – Giving visibility regarding what each sector should deliver for the transition is needed for consumers to take the right decisions.

Build lasting support – Eurobarometer polls show that Europeans expect more action at EU level to tackle environmental issues. Political leaders should not wait to leverage this deeper climate awareness into more concrete forms of engagement.

Practice inclusiveness – The renewed support for action is an invitation to put every consumer at the center of the game. Not every home owner can afford an nZEB renovation, and those who cannot need support. But let’s not forget to design adequate policy mixes for all those ready to jump on the renovation train.

Educate – Policy-makers can explain better the complementarity of solutions, concepts such as “efficiency first”, and the cost of non-action. In the same way than a healthy diet does not simply consist in adding some vegetables twice a week, and requires eliminating junk food, a healthy energy system starts with eliminating wastage.

Champion frontrunners: The beauty of the energy transition is that it starts very close to us, e.g. in buildings, with better thermal comfort, light, or acoustic conditions, and air quality. There is room for empowering early movers who can share convincing success stories.

We are in a long journey with no secret short-cuts or exit buttons, but where energy efficiency can deliver the essential benefits that underpin societal buy-in towards our 2050 goals. To get there, our leaders need to be bold, grasp the renewed momentum, practice joined-up thinking and place citizens’ aspirations at the core of their policies.

This article is a contribution from a EUSEW Partner. All rights reserved. 

Large Group of European Stakeholders Calls for Immediate Action in Face of Climate Emergency

In an unprecedented Climate Action Call published today, a broad and diverse coalition representing hundreds of cities, businesses, investors, scientists, faith groups and civil society organisations, including climate, human rights, litigation, citizens’ mobilization and sports groups urge European leaders to take decisive action to respond to the climate emergency and profoundly alter the way we run our societies and economies to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C
The Climate Action Call comes prior to the EU Heads of State and Government debate on the Future of Europe at the Sibiu summit on 9 May, and the European elections between 23 and 26 May. Climate change is expected to be a central issue in both the Future of Europe and elections debates, as it has climbed up on the priority list of European citizens, with hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets to demand stronger action from politicians.
Signatories of the Climate Action Call believe that to respond to the public mobilization, current EU leaders and candidates in the elections need to publicly commit to make climate action a top priority for Europe during both the Future of Europe and elections debates. The Climate Action Call spells out five specific steps the new European Parliament, the new European Commission and all EU Member State governments need to take to act on climate change:

1. Commit to accelerate actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and reach net zero emissions as soon as possible.

2. Plan the end of the use of fossil fuels and provide strong support to energy efficiency, renewable energy and emission cuts outside the energy sector.

3. Safeguard a just and fair transition and ensure that the EU increases its support to developing countries to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

4. Increase efforts to roll out the circular economy and increase resource efficiency.

5. Recognise biodiversity protection and ecosystem restoration as a crucial component of climate action.

The signatories include some of Europe’s largest city networks, most influential business groups, leading investors organisations , well-known European research institutes, and largest European NGO coalition on climate and energy.

EU-ASE is female! Happy International Women’s Day 2019

According to a study carried out by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), it is projected that by 2050 there will be around 40 million jobs directly related to renewable energy and energye fficiency worldwide. Women comprise half the world’s population and half of the workforce, hence their full inclusion is vital to ensuring that the new energy economy is based on the largest pool of talent, knowledge and skills.

On 8 March 2019, International Women’s Day, EU-ASE wants to celebrate the powerful, capable women that make sure every day that the energy efficiency voice is heard across all sectors of the European Union. We want to recognise them, their achievements and their leadership. And to remind the energy community that, without their work, progressive climate and energy advancements would not be possible.


“There’s no talking about future without progressive climate policies, same as there’s no talking about future without women.”

Monica Frassoni, EU-ASE President

Happy International Women’s Day!

Op-ed: The pathway to sustainable cooling

Jürgen Fischer, President, Danfoss Cooling

Jürgen has broad leadership experience from global industrial companies within IT, telecommunication, and machine-building. He is passionate about the digital transformation in the cooling sector and constantly challenges innovation to leverage e.g. the potential of energy storage across Danfoss. In 2008, Jürgen joined Danfoss as Vice President for Industrial Automation, and since 2015, Jürgen Fischer has been President of Danfoss Cooling.

Jürgen holds a master’s degree in Economics from the University of Augsburg. In addition, he holds several degrees from executive education programs at INSEAD and IMD.

As the global temperature rises, sustainable space cooling solutions are more important than ever. The IEA Future of Cooling report estimates that the energy demand for air conditioners is expected to triple by 2050; leading to a space cooling energy growth of 30% in Europe by 2050. The increase in demand for space cooling can put severe pressure on the power grid and challenges to achieve the Paris agreement goals if nothing is done, warns the IEA.

Luckily, the report also estimates a saving potential for today’s space cooling by 50%. If we use the best available technology, we will secure cooling that is both sustainable and provides comfort for millions of citizens.

Success hangs on how quickly we can deploy this technology at scale. Five key areas can make a difference and help the EU Commission delivering actions of the “A Clean Planet for All” strategy:

  1. Roll-out appropriate energy standards and labelling schemes

Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) are the easiest and most efficient way to ensure that only energy efficient cooling devices are placed on the market. The roll-out of labelling schemes across the globe ensures that we use cost-effective technologies. This reduces the total cost of ownership for the devices and benefits of the end-users. However, the use of MEPS needs to be combined with strong market surveillance and enforcement to realize its full potential and ensure all stakeholders are complying with the same rules.

  1. Implement a system approach and secure maintenance of energy efficiency over time

Cooling systems need constant maintenance to ensure that they deliver the promised energy savings over time. According to the European Commission, 75% to 90% of the EU building stock is inefficient. But only 1% of it is renovated each year. There are two priorities for policy makers: one is to accelerate the retrofit of existing buildings and their cooling systems and the other is to improve their maintenance routines over time. The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) goes into the right direction and addresses these two priorities. The stronger focus on the renovation of the existing buildings, e.g. via the long-term renovation strategies and on the optimization of technical buildings systems, such as cooling, heating and ventilation systems are identified. The next critical step is to ensure a good implementation of the EPBD at national level.

  1. Combining heating and cooling with renewable energy

With today’s technology we can use supermarkets as giant batteries which allows us to store fluctuating renewable energy sources and balance the energy system. Is heating the future of sustainable cooling? Using excess heat coming from cooling applications, i.e. in supermarkets, we can re-use it to heat our water or warm up our buildings — saving energy and money and reducing the pressure on our energy systems. We need to break down silos to unleash the benefits derived from connectivity across sectors.

  1. Leverage the potential of district cooling

In a district cooling system chilled water is being used to cool down buildings and therefore save energy. Copenhagen is a great example, where a district cooling system was established to service hospitals, office buildings, and schools. The result was win-win, with CO2 emissions reduced by about 65% and consumer savings of 80% on energy costs. Looking at the benefits, it is essential to unlock its full potential with new heating and cooling renewable targets. The new national energy and climate plans must be adopted according to the new Governance Regulation on the Energy Union.

  1. Build a framework for the development of new business models

To unlock the full potential of energy efficiency and meet the future energy demand, we need to enable new business models and demand-side management. Energy storage is the key to unlocking flexibility in our energy systems, which can ultimately turn energy consumers into prosumers. We need policies to encourage the re-use of heat that would otherwise be released into the air.

Together we can deliver “A Clean Planet for all”

Looking at today’s best available technology, the next step needs to be the implementation of ambitious legislation and regulations to increase energy efficiency across sectors. The industry is ready and, together with policymakers and governments, we can unlock the full potential of energy efficiency and open the pathway for a lower energy demand. Let’s join hands across sectors and work towards a cooled and environmental-friendly future together.

Three leading companies join the European Alliance to Save Energy to unlock the energy efficiency potential of the energy-water nexus

The European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE) is very pleased to welcome Nalco Water – an ECOLAB Company, Orbital Systems, and Xylem Inc.  among its current group of industrial members.

The drinking and waste water sector is a high energy consumer, yet none of the water-related directives in the EU – the Water Framework Directive, the Drinking Water Directive, and the Urban Waste-Water Treatment Directive –covers energy efficiency. Nonetheless, a broad range of solutions are available to reduce energy consumption across the EU water value chain. According to the IEA World Energy Outlook[1], with the right set of water policy measures, global energy savings of 270 TWh by 2040 are possible. This is achievable with today technologies and know-how and could free valuable resources for the needed investments in water infrastructure in the short, medium or long-terms.

Monica Frassoni, President, EU-ASE: “Energy efficiency is a key driver to a carbon neutral economy by 2050 and there is huge energy efficiency potential across industrial sectors, regions and cities. In the water sector, by saving water, one also saves energy and this is why we have decided to create a dedicated water working group within the Alliance. Our current and new members will work together on the water energy-nexus which has been overlooked in current regulatory framework. We want to make sure that policy makers understand the win-win situation and the need to integrate an energy efficiency dimension across the EU water policies and legislation”. 

David Martin, VP Marketing, Europe & MEA, Nalco Water:Nalco Water, an ECOLAB Company, is pleased to join progressive partners to promote energy efficient solutions and unlock the potential of the energy-water nexus. Together, we can make energy efficiency a priority in EU water legislation and promote water efficiency as a natural solution to achieve energy savings. Because what’s good for Water is good for Business.

Simon Goldschmidt, Chief Commercial Officer, Orbital Systems:We are very pleased to join the EU-ASE. This strategic membership will hopefully help us to create a paradigm shift in daily water usage and speed up the market uptake of our innovative domestic water saving solution.”

Alexis de Kerchove, Vertical Marketing Manager, Water Utilities, Xylem Europe:Xylem is looking forward to building a strong and active water group with the EU-ASE to strengthen innovative positions on water policies and demonstrate how efficient technologies and smart solutions can benefit the water sector in its current challenges through the optimization of energy use.

[1] IEA, World Energy Outlook 2016