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. 

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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.

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The age of Sustainalism: a new growth model for the 21st century

By Harry Verhaar, Head of Global Public & Government Affairs at Signify and Chair of the EU-ASE Board.
This article was originally published in COP 23 | Climate Change – the New Economy.

It is becoming ever more clear that the major global trends which are having the greatest impact on the world around us are not only increasingly intertwined, but are also becoming ever broader in their impact, affecting a greater number of regions and citizens.

Global hunger is on the increase, for the first time in over a decade. According to the annual United Nations report on world food security and nutrition, this increase is primarily due to climate-related shocks and the growth in the number of violent conflicts. The report also points to concern at the number of overweight children and obese adults, with changes in dietary habits and economic slowdowns cited as some of the drivers of these trends. The authors of the report state that the world will not “end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030 unless we address all the factors that undermine food security and nutrition. Securing peaceful and inclusive societies is a necessary condition to that end.”

We need a paradigm shift – slightly revised capitalism or moderated socialism are not going to suffice.

The impact of climate change has thus far been most keenly felt by the citizens in the developing world. However, last year’s intense and destructive hurricanes, which tore through the Caribbean and then hit the southern United States, suggest that even the wealthiest country on the planet is not immune to the consequences of a changing climate.

The Chicago skyline lights up as dusk falls. Globally, lighting accounts for about 15 per cent of all electricity consumption. (Source: Pixabay)

It should be clear that we cannot continue to look at the challenges facing the world in isolation. It may be comforting to do so, as focusing on a single issue can provide for greater clarity and easier communication. But this approach has the danger of simply storing up trouble for future generations.

Our focus on measuring global success through GDP growth has trapped us in a linear view of society – focused on extracting, consuming and emitting resources from energy to water, materials and food. We need to become much smarter, more resource-efficient and change from a linear approach to a circular society, in which long-term quality of life becomes the most important metric. This would ensure that while economic competitiveness remains important, our society would have at its core the health and well-being of all our citizens.

By adding a focus on social equity and inclusiveness, we can enter an age where the socio-economic model becomes about Sustainalism, building on the foundations laid by capitalism and socialism, but taking the broader view which the challenges of today and tomorrow demand of us.

No one is unaware of the need for our products and processes to become more energy efficient and yet, often due to a focus on the short term, there remains a reluctance to make the transitions required.

To arrive at a carbon-neutral world by 2050, we need to drive overall energy efficiency improvements of at least 3 per cent per year. “We” – industry, transport, public infrastructure, homes – must at least double the rate of energy efficiency improvement, primarily by accelerating infrastructure renovation to around 3 per cent per year. In parallel with this we also need to be moving to clean energy sources at a rate that also equates to 3 per cent of our energy mix per year.

Critically, the current rate of energy efficiency improvement hovers at around 1.5 per cent per year. At the same time, demand for energy continues to rise at about 3 per cent per year driven by population growth, increased prosperity and mobility. Simply doubling the rate of energy efficiency improvement would reduce global energy costs by more than $2 trillion by 2030, slash the average household energy bill by a third, and create more than six million jobs by the end of this decade.

Simply adopting LED in place of incandescent lighting would reduce energy consumption by a massive 53 per cent and carbon dioxide emissions by 1,400 megatonnes.

There are two main elements required to double the rate of energy efficiency improvement. The first is accelerating the renovation of existing infrastructure in developed countries. Secondly, there needs to be a focus on helping developing countries leapfrog to clean technologies such as solar-LED and combine these with new business models. It is a sad fact that many of the countries which have suffered the most from climate change have been least responsible for creating it. It is vital that developing countries do not follow the same destructive phases that the richer nations of the world have been through.

When speaking about energy we often talk about individual technologies and their potential in their respective silos. In reality we must pursue them all. Energy efficiency, renewable energy and carbon engineering are all needed. Only by enacting all of them in unison will we be able to achieve the ultimate goal of carbon neutrality in the coming 40 to 50 years. The International Energy Agency projects that energy efficiency needs to do over half of this job. One could say that by combining energy efficiency and renewable energy we can decarbonize society twice as fast and twice as cost-effectively.

The fact is that many of the technologies we need already exists, all that’s required is to take a longer-term view, and use it.

LED lighting is a perfect example. LED street lighting uses at least 40 per cent less energy than conventional lighting and has been around for years, and yet we still cling to outdated and inefficient technology. Globally, lighting accounts for about 15 per cent of all electricity consumption. We project this will decline to 8 per cent in 2030 while over the same period the global tally of light points will have increased by 50 per cent to 70 billion. Simply adopting LED in place of incandescent lighting would reduce energy consumption by a massive 53 per cent and carbon dioxide emissions by 1,400 megatonnes.

Energy-efficienct street lighting can deliver social, economic and environmental benefits. (Source: Pixabay)

Moreover, innovation brings benefits beyond energy efficiency. Looking at lighting specifically, around one in seven of the world’s population (some 1.1 billion people) are trapped in light poverty because – cut off from the grid – they have no access to electric light. As a result, they are forced to use alternatives such as kerosene lamps and candles to light their homes – which claim an estimated 1.5 million lives every year through respiratory illnesses and fires.

But off-grid solar LED lighting solutions can help to end this injustice, at a fraction of the long-term cost of kerosene or typical infrastructure, while stimulating social and economic development as communities are brought out of the dark.

However, in all these cases what can hold the development back is the initial upfront cost. The cheapest individual lightbulb to buy remains the incandescent bulb – yet viewed over any length of time, it becomes the most expensive.

It is also extremely limited technology. In contrast, LEDs can now be embedded with sensors and intelligence so they can be connected wirelessly and managed remotely via the internet. This connected lighting for smart buildings and smart cities can further boost the initial energy savings by up to 80 per cent.

The benefits of this connected technology can be measured in much greater terms than simple energy savings. Businesses can enable employees to personalize their lighting and temperature at their workspaces via a smartphone app, with associated improvements in both productivity and employee well-being. In addition, building managers can receive real-time data on how the office is being used, how much space is required, and how to optimize the space they have.

The benefits of connected lighting can be seen on a city-wide scale. For instance, the City of Los Angeles has converted 140,000 street lights to LED and has 110,000 nodes connected and managed through a Philips Lighting CityTouch connected street lighting management system. Not only does this allow the city to remotely manage and monitor the lighting, acoustic sensors can be used to detect vehicle collisions and thus reduce the emergency response time. Other benefits include a 21 per cent reduction crime in areas where the improved lighting was introduced and a 30 per cent reduction in night-time traffic accidents.

We need to become much smarter, more resource-efficient and change from a linear approach to a circular society, in which long-term quality of life becomes the most important metric. 

Buenos Aires is another city that has retrofitted its street lighting system with connected LED lighting, creating a safer, more welcoming environment to improve the quality of life of its residents, while also saving 50 per cent in operating costs.

Better lighting can also have a significant impact in schools. In a year-long trial in a French primary school, a new system that allows the teacher to optimize the classroom ambience found that reading speed increased by 35 per cent, while frequency of errors dropped by nearly 45 per cent and hyperactive behaviour by 76 per cent. All of these factors can provide a major boost to children’s enjoyment of their school day and their ability to learn.

The key in encouraging the adoption of this type of technology is delivering the message that it does not require a sacrifice, or that we are looking at experimental concepts, but that the technology is already available and simply needs accelerating. This must take place through replicating best practice, putting the right policies in place, and communicating effectively.

We need to convince society’s “eco-majority” – those who are aware of the need to act, are willing to do so, but are uncertain about the steps to take. Creating momentum with this group will help embed Sustainalism as the new mainstream economic model.

We need a paradigm shift – slightly revised capitalism or moderated socialism are not going to suffice. We need Sustainalism, a new, inclusive and more equitable socio-economic model of a twenty-first century that can meet the needs of the 10 billion people who in just a few decades from now will  share the single planet that we call home.

 

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How can Energy Union governance help put efficiency first?

Energy efficiency markets are driven by legislation. This is why a strong energy efficiency directive supported by a robust governance mechanism are key to delivering the multiple benefits of energy efficiency, argue Monica Frassoni and Harry Verhaar.

Monica Frassoni is president of the European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE) and Harry Verhaar is head of global public and government affairs at Philips Lighting.

 

The Paris Agreement, championed by the European Union, sets the long-term direction we have to take: keeping global warming well below two degrees or in other words moving towards a carbon-neutral society in the early to mid-21st century. This will require the transformation of our economy thanks to low-carbon technologies. In this transition, business will be key. We are committed to a low-carbon economy. It makes economic sense and we deeply believe businesses should play a positive role in shaping a better world for future generations.

 

 

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“The EU’s Energy Efficiency Directive – An opportunity to support business whilst reducing our dependence on foreign energy supplies”

In June 2011 the European Commission published a new proposal for an Energy Efficiency Directive. The European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE), Europe’s first business led alliance on energy efficiency, had hoped that this piece of legislation would put Europe where it should be; at the forefront of the global energy efficiency market. Instead, the draft Directive does not yet provide a clear legislative framework for the EU to meet its target of 20% primary energy savings by 2020. We are where we shouldn’t be; increasingly vulnerable to energy price and availability shocks and missing out on the huge opportunity to position European business at the forefront of the new markets for energy efficient goods and services across the globe. The opportunities that a drive towards an energy efficient Europe can provide are too important to miss and therefore we all must ensure that this Directive is transformed into a stepping stone towards success.

 

 

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