Water efficiency could help Europe drive decarbonisation and boost industrial competitiveness

As water scarcity becomes a bigger issue, industry must become more resilient by reducing pressure on available freshwater resources. Strong policy frameworks are required to support more efficient water usage, says Emilio Tenuta from Ecolab on Foresight Climate & Energy ahead of the first edition of the European Energy Efficiency Day. 

While the risks of a climate crisis loom ever – nearer, global leaders gathered a few weeks ago for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to argue once again for the need for swift climate action.

Even before this, in January 2021, the new German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called for an determined approach, saying: “We will no longer wait for the slowest and least ambitious. We’ll turn climate from a cost factor to competitive advantage”. It is encouraging to see leaders finally rising to the climate challenge.

The message is clear: We need more than ever to move faster and act collectively to address the climate emergency. To accelerate decarbonisation in industry and successfully achieve the goals set under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, we will have to work together. Governments, businesses, investors and civil society will need to partner to turn this commitment into concrete actions.

Water efficiency is part of the solution to decarbonisation.

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More information on Energy Efficiency Day here & Register here.

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The water-energy nexus: an untapped resource for major energy savings

Water requires energy. When we move it, clean it, heat it and cool it—energy moves with it. These two precious resources come together seamlessly in our daily lives, but they can also jointly create significant energy savings. Unleashing the potential of the water-energy nexus will drive substantial energy savings to repower the EU while drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions, says Hayati Yarkadas at Xylem Europe on Foresight Climate & Energy ahead of the first edition of the European Energy Efficiency Day. 

The water-energy nexus refers to the link between energy use in water management and water use in energy production. Water and wastewater infrastructure account for 3.7% of the global electricity consumption. The good news is that any efficiency gains in one benefits the other.

And by using high-efficiency technologies, we can cut half of that energy consumption at zero or negative cost. This would be equivalent to removing 9.2 million fossil-fuelled cars per year and it would free up $40 billion to invest in other types of water infrastructure.

The nexus also holds the potential to generate large-scale energy and water savings across sectors and drastically reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions—an important element to address the impending climate change crisis.

We must move to an energy-neutral wastewater sector to achieve climate neutrality in Europe.

 

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Adding energy efficiency into the energy mix is essential to delivering Europe’s climate goals

Simply rolling out renewables will not be enough to end Europe’s dependency on gas. Energy efficiency is just as important, writes Katarzyna Wardal on Foresight Climate & Energy ahead of the first edition of the European Energy Efficiency Day.

Energy efficiency should be considered as important as other power generation fuel types Despite it not often making the headlines, energy stakeholders and lawmakers know that energy efficiency can drastically reduce the carbon footprint of Europe’s building stock, which currently accounts for about 40% of the EU’s energy consumption and 36% of greenhouse gas emissions.

But what about energy efficiency as a form of fuel? That may sound like an absurd suggestion. Yet this is exactly the type of idea we need if Europe is to have even a remote chance of achieving any of its ambitious energy and climate goals, whether it is gaining energy independence, reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 55% by 2030 or becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

At least 75% of the EU building stock is energy inefficient. Among other factors, these buildings lack the proper insulation needed to keep heat in (or, in the summer, out). Therefore, they need higher flow temperatures to deliver the same level of indoor comfort. Needless to say, getting that higher temperature requires more energy.

This highlights the correlation between energy efficiency and energy use. With heating and cooling responsible for an estimated 35% of a building’s total energy consumption, increasing a building’s energy efficiency can go a long way in reducing fuel use. In other words, the more efficient the building, the more energy saved. As these savings means less energy needs to be produced, energy efficiency should not only be included in the energy mix but given equal footing to other fuel types.

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To get rid of Russian fossil fuels, the EU needs to put energy savings first

The REPowerEU plan must come with credible, actionable measures that governments, citizens and industry can implement by following the Green Deal agenda and notably energy savings measures. To support this, the EU can count on clean, made-in-Europe technologies that are at the heart of the energy transition, write Monica Frassoni and Harry Verhaar in Euractiv.

The aggression against Ukraine by Putin is not only a tragic reminder that peace is never an evidence but also another powerful reminder of the urgency of getting rid of our dependence on fossil fuels and accelerating the full implementation of an ambitious Green Deal. Over the past decades, the EU hesitated to address its reliance on fossil fuels import, a well-known threat to the block’s energy security.

In 2021 the EU imported more than 40% of its fossil gas consumption from Russia, about 155 billion cubic meters. A considerable amount of this gas is needed to heat Europe’s old and inefficient buildings. Fossil gas accounts for more than 32% of the EU’s final energy consumption in households. If we also consider the indirect use of gas for electricity production, we have the extent of Europe’s gas reliance problem and the risks of its dependency on energy imports.

We welcomed the immediate reaction of the Commission in March with the REPowerEU communication, despite its excessive focus on diversification of gas supply. We are confident that the action plan published on 18 May will be much more coherent with the need to reduce our dependence on Russian gas and fossil fuels altogether through an acceleration of energy efficiency measures and renewables deployment.

The REPowerEU plan must come with credible, actionable measures that governments, citizens and industry can implement by following the Green Deal agenda and notably energy savings measures. To support this, the EU can count on clean, made-in-Europe technologies that are at the heart of the energy transition. A broad range of short and mid-term measures to address the energy and climate crisis is available. We believe that by deploying energy efficiency measures in buildings, industry, transport and the water sector, Europe can deliver massive energy savings and substantially reduce Europe’s fossil fuel imports.

Read the full article in Euractiv 

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Open letter to ECON and BUDG Committees Members: A green recovery for Europe

In view of the ongoing discussion in the European Parliament on the Recovery and Resilience Facility Regulation, the European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE) sent a letter to the Members of the Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) and Budgets (BUDG) Committees calling for a green recovery for current and future generations.

The letter states:

The Covid-19 pandemic is hitting the economy of the European Union hard. This urges a rapid, coordinated, and forward-looking response to cope with unprecedented health, economic and social consequences for all.

From a business perspective we are convinced that such response requires the EU recovery plans to support sustainable investments in projects and reforms fully aligned with the Paris agreement objectives and the goal to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. Indeed, a large number of authoritative studies and economic research1,2 show that a green recovery holds the opportunity to provide short term boost to local economies and job creation while supporting, in the long term, the modernisation of our economic system and the ecological transition.

For these reasons and in view of the current discussion on the Recovery and Resilience Facility Regulation (RRF), we call on you to follow the indications received by your colleagues of the ENVI Committee in its Opinion of 14 October 2020 and in particular to ensure that:

At least 40% of the RRF’s total budget is earmarked to finance climate actions and addresses, over the next ten years, the economic, health, environmental and social consequences of climate changes, especially on the young and future generations.

The EU Taxonomy is used to assess both the eligibility and tracking of the investments included in the national recovery and resilience plans.

The RRF supports the achievement of the energy and climate targets for 2030 and 2050. In this perspective, national recovery and resilience plans should prioritise investments in areas such as energy efficient building renovations rather than lock-in resources in fossil fuel infrastructures that undermine the achievement of the Union’s climate and environmental objectives.

 

See the full letter here

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