European Alliance to Save Energy urges German EU Council presidency to straighten out its energy priorities and prioritize building renovations

Today the German Government unveiled its EU Council Presidency priorities without 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 prioritize a sector which, more than any other, can deliver both 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 digitalization. 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. 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. It is very difficult to find one single good reason that justifies the decision to exclude buildings from the presidency’s proprieties. We have a lot of work to do to recover after the Covid-19; 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.

The PDF version of the press release is available here.  

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EU-ASE President Monica Frassoni at the 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

 

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Energy efficiency and the Energy System Integration Strategy

Reducing emissions across all sectors and decarbonizing “hard-to-abate sectors”, which include buildings, industry and transport, will strongly depend on the EU ability to apply the energy efficiency first principle, which should be mainstreamed to all energy policymaking, planning and investments, including into the upcoming EU Strategy on energy sector integration. 

Energy efficiency is the first fuel and should be the starting point for all decarbonization efforts, and this according to the energy efficiency first principle as defined in the Governance for Energy Union Regulation. Together with renewables, it must represent the lion’s share of the measures needed to meet the 2050 target. Energy efficiency and renewable electrification are two key pillars of a 1.5C decarbonization pathway.

To achieve its climate neutrality goal by 2050, the Commission has announced an Energy System Integration Strategy as part of its Green Deal. This new strategy will look at how to facilitate the interlinkages between electricity, heating, building, transport and industry sectors, to better use synergies likely to emerge (including in energy conversion and storage), thereby enabling a more cost-efficient decarbonization of the energy system. This includes looking at how integrating sectors can improve the overall efficiency of the energy system through enabling reuse of excess/waste energy, storage of surplus electricity in thermal networks, buildings and transport as well as to incentivize the clean electrification of sectors, interconnectivity and energy storage.

The recommendations outlined in this paper put forward some key ideas to fully consider the potential for energy efficiency and its role in facilitating the transition towards more integrated energy and other sectors.​

 

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Recommendations for a neighbourhood approach to maximize energy efficiency in renovation and energy planification

This position paper calls on the European Commission to integrate the notion of neighbourhood approach in the EU building and energy efficiency policy framework, in the national programmes for buildings renovations and in the upcoming Renovation Wave strategy.

The current energy efficiency legislative framework in buildings already refers to the notion of a district or neighbourhood approach, in particular in Art.19, §2, of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD).

While the article refers to 2026, given the multiple benefits of a neighbourhood approach and the need for accelerating our climate actions, the EU should prioritize the integration of this principle in its climate and energy framework and any new initiatives linked to renovation and decarbonization. This is all the more relevant, as the main challenge today is not so much the construction of new buildings as the renovation of the existing ones.

We need to make sure that the renovation policies deliver fast and concrete results in terms of increased energy efficiency and overall system efficiency, reduced energy consumption and reduced GHG emissions. A neighbourhood approach could help us achieve these goals and the overall objective of a highly energy efficient and decarbonized building stock.

 

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EU-ASE response to the Inception Impact Assessment on the Industrial Emissions Directive

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 Industrial Emissions Directive (IED). 

While we believe the Directive has been responsible for solid progress against identified air and water pollutants, and the BREF process has contributed to identifying Best Available Techniques, in its current form the Directive is not able to contribute toward EU ambitions for climate neutrality. 

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

1. Broadening of the scope 

A change in scope is needed so that the IED becomes part of the EU’s arsenal for climate neutrality. The IED should not only look at industrial emissions from a qualitative perspective, instead it should go further and focus on use of resources in industrial manufacturing processes, circular economy and the reuse of resources in to order to have a real impact. 

2. Making the Energy Efficiency BREF mandatory for all sectors 

There is a general consensus that the Energy Efficiency BREF has not been made a priority focus in the past and needs strengthening of the requirements to reduce energy losses. Its implementation needs to be made mandatory for all sectors, taking into account the Energy Efficiency First principle. 

3. Tackling water scarcity and efficiency needs by reducing water consumption 

The issue of water scarcity and efficiency needs to be tackled before it becomes a larger, more critical issue for industry. In Europe, more than 50% of fresh water abstraction is for industrial purposes. While we welcome the inclusion of water reuse in the existing BREFs, the reduction of water consumption has clearly not been a key environmental issue addressed by the BREF technical committees as only 20 BAT conclusions (out of 850 in total) have included water usage reductions or increasing water reuse. 

4. Focusing on the energy-water nexus 

We believe that the IED should give greater priority to water consumption with a focus on reuse under circular economy principles. This should include a focus on water and heat in industrial processes (the “energy-water nexus”) where water efficiency leads to energy savings and emissions reductions.

5. New policy objectives 

We would like to see water efficiency and water reuse in industrial processes, waste water minimisation, and the digitisation of water management in industry become policy objectives of the IED. 

6. Horizontal BREF on water efficiency and reuse 

The Commission could consider developing a horizontal BREF on water efficiency and reuse to mainstream these practices across European industries. 

7. Fit for innovation and new technologies 

The slow incremental nature of the “available techniques” needs to be addressed to better promote innovation, and BREFs require a mechanism to adapt more quickly to rapidly advancing technologies (there is no backwards compatibility). 

8. Encourage behavioral change and incentive mechanism 

The Commission should seize this opportunity to encourage behavioural change amongst industry leaders and provide incentive mechanisms to help them realise the different benefits of water and energy efficiency measures (water, energy, emissions and industrial competitiveness).

 

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