Commission strengthens EU energy efficiency rules, lacks ambition on targets

The European Commission unveiled today its “Fit for 55” package to adapt the EU’s energy and climate legislation to the new goals of reducing emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and reach climate neutrality by 2050. The package includes the key proposal to revise the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED).

The EED proposal contains a number of positive elements. First of all, it enshrines the Energy Efficiency First principle (EE1st) in the Directive, introducing the much-needed obligation to apply the principle in the decision making of energy and non-energy sectors.

Other important elements are the extension of the public owned building renovation obligation to all public bodies, as well as the introduction of a new obligation to cut energy consumption of public bodies by at least 1.7% annually until 2030.

The revised Directive reinforces the annual energy savings obligations target after 2024 by 1.5%, almost doubling the current obligation. It also excludes the accountability of direct fossil fuel combustion technologies and clarifies that a reduction of the energy use through measures under the ETS cannot count towards the fulfilment of the energy savings obligation.

The European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE) welcomes the Commission’s proposal to level up its ambition on the EU energy efficiency rules. By acknowledging the Energy Efficiency First principle, the Commission recognises its crucial role to drive a fast and fair transition in energy and non-energy sectors. However, we regret that the Commission chose not to propose binding national targets on energy efficiency; furthermore, we are critical of the Commission’s decision to propose an EU wide energy efficiency target that, even if mandatory, is not aligned with the EU decarbonisation pathway. The Commission introduces a 36% target for final energy consumption, which does not catch the cost-effective opportunities stemming of at least 40% energy efficiency target by 2030.

Monica Frassoni, President of the European Alliance to Save Energy said:
The latest extreme weather events around the world and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic show that there is no time left for half measures on climate and on economic recovery. The EU Energy Efficiency Directive must be fit for Europe’s decarbonisation goals as well as foster economic activities aiming at increasing efficiency in buildings, industry, and transport. In this sense, we think that the proposed targets should have been more ambitious. We will be working over the next months to demonstrate to the co-legislators that delivering on ambitious energy efficiency targets and fully applying the Energy Efficiency First principle is essential if the EU wants to be credible about reaching climate neutrality in time and avoid the worst effects of climate change. We hope that the European Parliament and the Council will further improve the current proposal”.

Harry Verhaar, Chair of the board of the European Alliance to Save Energy and Head of Public and Government Affairs at Signify said:
“To be able to fully unlock the multiple benefits of energy efficiency across the continent we need an ambitious EU legal framework. We welcome the revision of the Energy Efficiency Directive, which comes at a timely moment for Europe’s green recovery and clean energy transition. In particular, we praise the Commission for strengthening the provisions on the Energy Efficiency First principle. The principle needs to guide policymakers and investors in all energy planning, policy, and investment decisions. Energy efficiency is a powerful driver of sustainable economic growth and it is key to speed up our journey to a decarbonised Europe”.

Bertrand Deprez, Vice-Chair of the board of the European Alliance to Save Energy and Vice-President EU government affairs at Schneider Electric said:
“Energy efficiency is the indisputable driver to reach at least a -55% GHG emissions cut in the next decade. The European Commission proposal goes in the right direction, with very promising measures to accelerate energy efficiency efforts at end-use level, including the extension of renovation obligations to all public buildings. Yet, achieving the EU ambition for 2030 without tackling the renovation of the entire existing stock is ‘Mission: Impossible’: we need to extend it to all non-residential buildings.”

Bonnie Brook, Vice-Chair of the board of the European Alliance to Save Energy and Senior Manager Industry Affairs Building Automation at Siemens said:
“Enhanced criteria for energy audits and energy management systems are very encouraging. They should leverage the opportunities brought by the current advanced level of digitalisation. Smart technologies should be widely deployed to enable monitoring, analysis and evaluation of the energy performance as well as the progress to the carbon-free future”.

Ahead of the publication of the proposal, the European Alliance to Save Energy provided to the European Commission its recommendations on how to make the EED “fit for 55%”. The Alliance looks forward to working together with the European Parliament and the Council during the co-legislation period to ensure that the Directive is ambitious and comprehensible.

According to the International Energy Agency’s Global Net Zero Roadmap for the Energy sector, the path to global net zero emissions implies a global push in energy efficiency gains resulting in the annual rate of energy intensity improvements averaging 4% to 2030 – about three times the average over the last two decades.

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About us
The European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE) aims to advance the energy efficiency agenda in the European Union. The Alliance allows world’s leading multinational companies to join environmental campaigners and a cross-party group of Members of the European Parliament. EU-ASE business members have operations across the 27 Member States of the European Union, employ over 340.000 people in Europe and have an aggregated annual turnover of €115 billion.

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Response to the Public Consultation on the revision of the Energy Efficiency Directive

The European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE) welcomes the opportunity to provide feedback to the European Commission’s Public Consultation procedure regarding the revision of the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED).

We addressed the part assessing the implementation and the effectiveness of the EED and the part assessing possible options for revising the EED in view of contributing to the 55% climate target for 2030 and addressing the ambition gap in the final NECPs. We also provided our views on technical questions for specific Articles of the EED.

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Water-energy nexus and energy saving obligations: industry success stories

This paper showcases concrete examples of water and energy saving projects across sectors and European countries. These feature some of the most advanced environmental technologies currently available on the market, allowing to deliver environmental, economic and social benefits.

Water and energy are deeply entwined. The water-energy nexus refers to the relationship between how much energy is needed for abstracting, moving, heating, cooling, storing, treating and disposing water and how much water is used for generation and transmission of energy.

This nexus is expected to intensify in the coming years. So far, Member States have notified a limited set of water-related measures in the framework of Article 7 of the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED). The most frequently notified measure is the production of hot water by solar collectors or more efficient gas water heaters. However, these measures rather relate to heat generation than water production, distribution, use, and wastewater treatment.

Raising awareness about the energy-water nexus can help:

  • Member States prioritise efficient use of both water and energy;
  • the business community to bring to market technologies and solutions designed to deliver water and energy savings across industries, municipalities and buildings; and
  • the EU to deliver the energy savings and emission reductions necessary to achieve the ambitious goal of climate neutrality by 2050.


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EU needs mandatory targets and means to save energy

The European Commission needs to bring in legally-binding energy efficiency targets to support building renovation and give member states the support they need to reach them.

by Kamila Waciega, Public Affairs Director for Energy at Veolia, and Ville Niinistö, Finnish Member of the European Parliament and coordinator for the Greens/EFA group in the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy.

In its recent communication on the European Union climate target for 2030, the EU Commission described energy efficiency legislation and policies as essential instruments contributing to the achievement of the new 2030 greenhouse gas reduction.

However, according to the accompanying impact assessment and the evaluation of National Energy and Climate Plans, the EU will surpass its current target for renewable energy by 1.7%, while it will still fail to meet its current 2030 efficiency target by 3%.

A similar result is expected for the energy efficiency target for 2020.

As the Commission is in the process of revising the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED), it is crucial to seize this opportunity to address the reasons for such an outcome of current energy efficiency policies.

One clear issue is the fact that the renewable energy target is binding at EU level, while the energy efficiency one still is not.

In the current context of dire health, economic and environmental crisis, we cannot afford this discrepancy. We need both higher and nationally binding energy efficiency targets, given all the benefits that investments in this segment can reap.

Following the position of the European Parliament, which asked for 60% emissions reduction by 2030, and taking into account the abovementioned impact assessment, the existing target for energy efficiency needs to be increased to 45% to untap the energy efficiency potential.

To ensure delivery, the EU level target should be made binding.

However, setting a better target is not enough. The most arduous element is providing means to achieve it. Those are regulatory and financial, and both can be ensured through the EED, which is currently planned for revision by June 2021.


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Response to the Roadmap on the revision of the Energy Efficiency Directive

The European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE) welcomes the opportunity to provide feedback to the European Commission’s publication of an inception impact assessment on the revision of the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED). The Alliance brings together businesses, think thanks and Members of the European Parliament to ensure that the voice of energy efficiency is heard across the business and political community.

he EU-ASE welcomes the strong narrative on energy efficiency in the roadmap as well as its proposal to revise the current EED. The Directive has played a significant role in bringing energy efficiency up in the political agenda, stimulated increased national efforts, and resulted in some energy efficiency improvements. However, it did not lead to the creation of the much needed binding and long term legal framework to mobilize the investments required to tap the savings potentials across sectors and deliver the multiple benefits of energy efficiency to citizens, businesses and the environment. This shortcoming also stems from the imperfect implementation of the Directive. As a consequence, in many countries, the energy savings delivered fell short of the minimum required and are insufficient to achieve the national targets. We note that the Commission is rightly stepping up enforcement and we fully support strengthening the legal requirements for more effective implementation.

The current review should ramp up the ambition in light of the EU’s new climate objectives. The EED targets must be aligned with the European Green Deal and its goal to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest, as well as intermediary targets. 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. Therefore, the overall energy consumption reduction is the foundation for achieving climate targets while ensuring a deep economic transformation that is supporting a circular, resilient and equitable post-COVID recovery.

For policy-makers, investing in energy efficiency means investing in a fast, smart and sustainable recovery which is ‘made in Europe’. The International Patent Classification green patents inventory of the World Intellectual Property Organization shows that among the countries with a higher concentration of filings for patents in energy conservation technologies, there are the EU Member States such as Germany, France, and the Netherlands. Investing in energy efficiency means supporting the growth, competitiveness and long term sustainability of European manufacturers, solution providers and local value chains. The EED review is paramount in that respect and should be carried out in such a way to support job creation, sustainable growth and climate change mitigation and adaptation in one of the most innovative and strategic sectors of the European Union.

Based on this, EU-ASE would like to highlight the following recommendations to support the Commission in its ongoing work on the EED revision.

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