EU-ASE at the EU Sustainable Energy Week 2020

This year the EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) took place in an online and reduced format. As a proud partner of EUSEW 2020, EU-ASE contributed in different ways to the success of the event, as shown below.

Participation in the EUSEW 2020 main conference and side webinars:

  • Decisive action on energy poverty: solutions from across the EU – organised by DG ENER (European Commission) – Watch the recording here
  • Spurring Europe’s Renovation Wave – How #BetterBuildingsEU can contribute to #EUGreenRecovery – co-organised with smartEn, EuroAce, SolarPower Europe, EHPA, BPIE, EuropeOn and EBC – Watch the recording here
  • Decarbonising industry and the ICT sector: energy and CO2 saving potential in the short and longer term – co-organised with the European Industrial Insulation Foundation, the German Environment Agency (UBA) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI – Watch the recording here
  • Powering energy transition in rural communities through social and territorial innovationMore information here

Blog contributions:

  • Renovation Wave: the immediate and powerful recovery button at the fingertips of EU policymakersRead here
  • Smart and the city: energy efficiency and sector integration for a #carbonneutralEU Read here

 

German Council presidency should straighten out its energy priorities and include building renovations

Today the German Government unveiled its EU Council Presidency priorities which lack a clear reference to the building renovation. As businesses and investors having energy efficiency and energy demand reduction at the heart of our activities, we believe that the German government lost a great opportunity to prioritise a sector which, more than any other, can deliver economic growth, local jobs creation and GHG emission reduction.

“We welcome the German government pledge to learn from the current crisis to be better prepared for the future and the focus on climate change and digitisation. At the same time, we strongly encourage the inclusion of the construction sector and in particular the renovation of the European building stock among the Council presidency priorities” – said Monica Frassoni, President of the European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE).

“For every million invested in the renovation of our homes we can create an average of 18 jobs. All the economic stimulus measures across the world address buildings. Finally the European Union is working on a flagship Renovation Wave initiative to trigger investments and accelerate the transformation of European society and economy towards climate neutrality. Therefore, it’s difficult to understand the decision to exclude buildings from the presidency’s priorities.”

“We have a lot of work to do to recover from the Covid-19 crisis and buildings must be at the centre of any rational energy, industrial and environmental strategy. With this in mind, we wish the German Government a successful presidency and look forward to constructive cooperation” – concluded Monica Frassoni.

 

Download the press release here (PDF)

Energy efficiency: green recovery ‘made in Europe’

by Monica Frassoni, President of the European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE)

This article featured in the summer 2020 edition of European Energy Innovation magazine


The Covid-19 pandemic is highly impacting our societies and is a major shock for the European and global economy. In this difficult context, the European Union has the opportunity to relaunch its economy guided by its long-term climate commitments, namely becoming climate neutral by 2050, while at the same time providing support to its many citizens who suddenly lost their work and income.

The recovery packages being prepared should not only aim at countering the economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. They should prepare the ground for a more prosperous, resilient, and sustainable future for our continent and the world.

Energy efficiency can help policymakers address the multiple challenges we are all faced with.

Energy efficiency is paramount for climate mitigation. Through existing technologies, it is possible to reduce energy consumption, increase the efficiency of the entire energy system and accelerate the integration of renewables. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), 76% of the European greenhouse gas emission reductions required to keep temperature increases below 1.5°C must come from energy efficiency.

In the European Union, energy efficiency is one of the pillars of the European Green Deal. In the recent proposal of a European Climate Law, energy efficiency is part of the defining elements of the EU’s trajectory towards climate neutrality by 2050. Along the same lines, the current political focus on buildings renovations indicates that the EU institutions recognize the economic, social and environmental impact of a transition towards a highly efficient building stock. Last but not least, the European Commission recently highlighted in its EU Industrial Strategy that reducing emissions across industry, namely the most energy-intensive ones, will greatly depend on the wide implementation of efficiency measures and on the Energy Efficiency First principle.

When it comes to industrial strategy, economic growth and job creation, indeed, the full application of the Energy Efficiency First principle to all energy policymaking, planning and investments, can be a real change maker for the energy efficiency value chain and, as a consequence of this, for the European economy.

Our continent hosts some of the most innovative and successful energy efficiency companies in the world. The members of the European Alliance to Save Energy are global “champions” that export technologies and drive innovation. Hundreds of other players, especially SMEs, operate in this field across Europe.

Read the full article in European Energy Innovation

EU-ASE at IEA’s 5th Annual Global Conference on Energy Efficiency

On 23 June 2020 EU-ASE president Monica Frassoni participated in the online panel debate “Learning from global best practice” as part of the International Energy Agency’s 5th Annual Global Conference on Energy Efficiency. Here is her full speech

I would like to thank the IEA for your excellent work to make the energy efficiency (EE) agenda credible at global level. About 10 years ago it gave a major global push to show the role and the amazing potential of EE in buildings, transport, and industry and this was a major help for all the EE business and social community in the EU. As EU-ASE we have often used this work to make our agenda stronger, as our work focuses mostly on the EU legislation, at a supranational level.

Referring to what Mr Mathur said before – that EE is like a plane and it takes effort for a plane to take off – well in the EU we are still in the middle of the take-off effort. We cannot say that we are tapping the great potential of energy efficiency to contribute to the clean energy transition and to climate neutrality. We will not be able to overcome the Covid-19 shock and reach climate neutrality without additional financial and legislative measures and a better implementation of the current legislation.

The EU is tight together by common political, legal, and financial instruments, expressed in regulations, targets, subsidies and incentives. This is the case also for EE.

Today, as a result of the current crisis, we are at a decisive moment There is a lot of political work at all levels, intense discussions and work within the EU institutions, Member States, businesses, and the NGO community to make sure that the recovery measures will take the right direction.

A lot of things still ne to be done to mainstream energy efficiency in EU policies. Still, I would like to mention three EU “best practices” that are relevant globally, even if we are still far away from having a clear picture of how successful these will be.

The European Green Deal, in which energy efficiency has a key role to play, is important because it is a deal, it is green, and it is European. The Green Deal works as a framework for the implementation of the current rules and sets a direction for the next EU legislation.

In terms of energy efficiency there are three policy initiatives which are crucial to accelerate EE in the coming years. One is the Sector integration strategy, to be published in July. The second one is the Renovation wave initiative, that for us is key. Many speakers already mentioned the importance of renovating buildings, well, for the EU, the Renovation Wave is a major instrument to reduce emissions by 2050 to make the EU climate neutral. Increasing the current rate of renovation by three times is the main challenge we have in front of us.

Moreover, there is an upcoming review of the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED), which needs to be revised to make it up to the climate targets. We would like to see that the EU sets a GHG target of at least 55% by 2030 to achieve the climate neutrality goal by 2050.

Another very important element which was mentioned by Minister Claude Turmes this morning concerns the EU budget and the Recovery plan. We believe there should be a clear earmarking of EU funds not only to climate activities but also to the renovation of buildings. There is still a huge risk that the Recovery Plan will put resources to activities which are not in line with the EU climate goals.

We also call to increase the “climate action quota” to 40% for the entire EU Budget. And to explicitly exclude from all EU funds any fossil fuel activities. Finally, a small note concerning hydrogen and the hopes that it is raising in the public debate. We see a lot of space for hydrogen in hard-to-decarbonise sectors, namely in transport, but the main solution in buildings remains energy efficiency.

To conclude, I can say that in the EU we have the framework, we have some best practices, but we still have a lot of work ahead to deliver the policies needed in the next 20 to 30 years.

 

The recording of the full panel is available here

 

Ending energy poverty starts with efficient homes

by Monica Frassoni, President of the European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE)

This op-ed was published on CEEnergyNews


The upcoming Renovation Wave initiative will be crucial to address how energy poverty can be eradicated through accelerated renovation rate across the EU.

Today around 11 per cent of the EU population – 54 million Europeans, is affected by energy poverty. With real energy prices up by 70 per cent since 2004, energy is becoming a luxury item across the European Union, where 75 per cent of the current building stock has no or very weak energy performance requirements.

In 2016 alone, roughly 50 million Europeans were unable to keep their home warm. This means 1 European out of 10. In some countries, the situation is much worse, for example in Bulgaria where 46.5 per cent of people are unable to keep their homes adequately warm in winter. Similar numbers were reported regarding the late payment of utility bills or the presence of poor housing conditions. Recent data show that more than a third of the Greek population (35 per cent) struggles to keep up with their payments, the same is true for many Bulgarians (34 per cent), Croatians (30 per cent), and Romanians (29 per cent).

This already bad situation has worsened because of the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, as the confinement measures adopted by national governments have made the energy needs of residential consumers grow. Moreover, many energy-poor people are the ‘essential workers’, facing low pay and risk as they have to keep working to keep essential services running. Lower-income households also pay proportionally more for energy. Due to the economic downturn caused by the crisis, many people also lost their job and families saw their income swiftly decline, with a new or increased difficulty in paying their energy bills.

A key step to tackle energy poverty is renovating buildings to make them more energy-efficient and would lower residents’ energy bills. In the case of low-income households, who are forced to spend a large share of their income on energy bills, energy efficiency measures allow them to live in a more comfortable and healthy environment while saving money they may need for other basic purposes, like food or healthcare.

There are few policy actions that the EU and national authorities should do immediately to boost buildings renovation and eradicate energy poverty.

First, Member States must speed up the implementation of existing legislation, starting with the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), which requires them to submit long-term renovation strategies. The deadline to transpose the directive was 10 March, but only seven Member States have done so to this date.

Governments should also introduce renovation grants and fiscal incentives. This would allow low-income households to renovate their homes for free or very cheaply. To this aim, it is key that a consistent part of the COVID-19 recovery plans is allocated to boosting building renovation at a national level. A quota of EU funds should also be directed towards renovation efforts, through the EU budget, the Just Transition mechanism and the recently announced recovery package (Next Generation EU).

At the EU level, the Commission has done very little so far to tackle energy poverty. In its Green Deal communication of December 2019, it only proposed to review existing laws which are not delivering, set up a platform for stakeholders, and provide “guidance” on energy poverty to Member States.

The upcoming Renovation Wave initiative will, therefore, be crucial to address how energy poverty can be eradicated through accelerated renovation rate across the EU. Boosting renovation to 3 per cent annually (from one per cent at present) would slash energy demand in buildings by 80 per cent, lifting millions of residents from energy poverty, while at the same time drastically cut related emissions.

Minimum standards legislation for existing buildings, as proposed by the energy committee of the European Parliament in its initiative report, would also boost renovation efforts.

Finally, the current energy efficiency targets must be increased and made binding at EU and Member State level.

If rightly implemented, these policies would have a tremendous social impact delivering to households across Europe increased comfort, cleaner indoor and outdoor air quality, reduced energy bills and better and more qualified local jobs.

It is the time for Europe to prove that the Green Deal pledge to “leave no one behind” is not just a slogan but a concrete political plan and that a just transition to a climate-neutral society is possible and desirable.