The water-energy nexus repowering the EU

The water-energy nexus is the interdependency of water and energy: energy is needed for abstracting, storing, treating or disposing water but also for moving, heating and cooling water across industrial cycles, while water is also heavily used for the generation and transmission of energy. The nexus holds the potential to generate large-scale energy and water savings across sectors and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The energy use by water and wastewater infrastructure amounts to about 4% global electricity consumption and 3,5% in the European Union (IEA, 2016).

Water utilities can become energy neutral and even energy positive with existing technologies and low costs of investments.

The revision of the EU Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive (UWWTD) represents a key opportunity to deliver the transition in the sector. A good way forward would be introducing an energy efficiency target for wastewater treatment plants of a certain size, for example bigger than 10,000 in population equivalent (p.e.). Mandatory energy audits for wastewater treatment operators which include measuring water efficiency could also help advance the energy efficiency of the sector.

This would reinforce and echo new provisions on water and the energy savings obligations for public bodies, currently being negotiated by co-legislators in the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) recast.

Digitalisation in the water sector is an important enabler towards energy neutrality. In wastewater treatment, existing digital solutions can achieve significant energy savings with limited investment needs (no civil engineering or hardware costs) within a short period of time. Intelligent pumps for wastewater management, for example, can save up to 70% energy per utility with 80% inventory reduction, thus lowering costs for utilities.

Saving water, saves energy and saving energy saves water. It is now time to advance energy efficiency and “RePower” the EU through the water-energy nexus!

by Tania Pentcheva
Senior Manager Government and Industry Relations
Xylem Inc.  

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EED recast: EU Council adopts general approach on EED

Today, the Council of the European Union adopted its general approach on the recast of the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED). This is a fundamental legislative step for the Union to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and phase out fossil fuel imports from Russia as soon as possible.

EU-ASE welcomes that for the first time, the Union is getting closer to finally have a binding target for energy efficiency, departing from the current Energy Efficiency Directive which only sets an indicative energy efficiency objective. Furthermore, although national contributions are not binding, the Council agreed on a governance of the Directive which would allow the Commission to activate a “gap-avoider” mechanism if the sum of contributions do not add up towards the EU target. It is an important step forward.

But the Council lost a major occasion to put Energy Efficiency first and act on high energy prices by creating the right regulatory conditions to reduce energy demand for families and business. Firstly, the Council did not take up the proposal of the Commission to increase the energy efficiency target of at least 13% as issued in the REPowerEU strategy.

This is hardly justifiable, knowing that a 9% target would still imply Member States importing 233 bcm of fossil gas annually from third countries, while a 19% target would reduce gas imports to 104 bcm per year i.e. achieving in full the goal to reduce to zero Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas, as Russia accounts to 40% of all of the EU’s gas imports. Secondly, Ministers did not agree to make the target for primary energy consumption binding, thus undermining the potential for energy savings gained at system level.

Monica Frassoni, President of the Alliance, said: “The Council general approach is not the end of the story: the European Parliament’s rapporteur position aims to a much more ambitious 19% energy efficiency target by 2030, which reflects the potential for energy savings. We support wholeheartedly the effort of the rapporteur Niels Fuglsang and of the many stakeholders at EU and national level working to boost investments in energy efficiency. Energy Efficiency First will increase Europe’s resilience and is a formidable way to address the energy and climate crisis”.

You can find the full press release here 


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The European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE) is a cross-sectoral, business-led organisation that ensures that the voice of energy efficiency is heard across Europe. EU-ASE members have operations across the 27 Member States of the EU, employ over 340.000 people in Europe and have an aggregated annual turnover of €115 billion.

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REPowerEU: EU-ASE welcomes increase of energy efficiency and renewables targets

Today, the European Commission presented its REPowerEU plan, containing measures promoting energy savings to help the EU phase out imported fossil fuels from Russia as soon as possible, as well as a proposals to further increase the headline targets of the Energy Efficiency Directive and the Renewable Energy Directive by 2030.

The European Alliance to Save Energy strongly believes that the EU’s response to break the dependency from foreign fossil fuels and to the climate crisis must translate into a much more ambitious “Fit For 55”  package, with a massive increase of our efforts to save energy and generate energy from renewable sources by the end of the decade. Energy efficiency and renewables are intertwined and are both critical to strengthen energy security while decarbonising the European economy in a socially just and affordable way.

We therefore welcome the Commission’s legal amendment to raise the EU’s 2030 targets for energy efficiency and renewable energy to 13% and 45% respectively.

The proposal to raise the target in the Energy Efficiency Directive from at least 9% to at least 13% is a step in the right direction – commented Monica Frassoni, President of the European Alliance to Save Energy – and we appreciate the Commission’s effort to adjust its own proposed target to reflect the new political and economic context and soaring energy prices since the proposal came out in July 2021.”

 The proposed legal amendment does not reflect the cost-effective potential of a 19% energy efficiency target, as proposed by the European Parliament rapporteur, MEP Niels Fuglsang. Implementing energy efficiency measures in all sectors is the first essential and rational action to foster the structural changes required to phase out fossil fuels and address both the energy and climate crisis.

 “We are aware of the existing reserves and resistance in several member States, but we are convinced that only a clear and binding legislative framework, adequate resources and assistance can convince them to support this. Energy efficiency is an essential element of our energy security and decarbonization strategy. Now it is time to deliver, and energy efficiency measures offer a broad range of economic, environmental and social benefits for citizens and businesses” concluded Monica Frassoni.

The European Alliance to Save Energy has recently developed an inspiring catalogue of energy efficiency measures, many of them readily available and made in Europe, and stand ready to support the Institutions to deploy such measures and reduce gas consumption in Europe.

Download the Pdf version 

Media contact:
Antoan Montignier
Policy and Advocacy Advisor
antoan.montignier@euase.eu
+32 499 84 97 28

 

About us

The European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE) is a cross-sectoral, business-led organisation that ensures that the voice of energy efficiency is heard across Europe. EU-ASE members have operations across the 27 Member States of the EU, employ over 340.000 people in Europe and have an aggregated annual turnover of €115 billion.

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Decarbonising heating and cooling: the time variable

Fossil fuels used for heating and cooling are responsible for 12% of the total EU CO2-equivalent emissions and for 28% of the yearly EU energy consumption. Furthermore, as shown by the latest figures released by the Coolproducts campaign, only about 17.3% of the heating appliances installed in European homes are powered by electricity or use clean technologies.

The EU Copernicus Climate Change Service has demonstrated how close we are to reaching a global warming of 1.5°C, foreseen now for February 2034. In the IPCC Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis report, it is noted that while strong and sustained reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases would limit climate change, it could take 20-30 years to see global temperatures stabilise. Even with a carbon-neutral planet in 2050, global temperatures would stabilise no earlier than 2070.

Technologies to replace gas, oil and coal boilers have been there for years, manufacturers are ready and consumers are in favour of the switch.

The International Energy Agency’s ‘Net-Zero by 2050’ argues that if the world is to achieve net-zero emissions by the middle of this century, no new fossil fuel boilers should be sold from 2025 onwards.

EU decisionmakers should include this ban in forthcoming EU legislation. With the continued installation of fossil fuel boilers in European buildings beyond 2025, the risk that they will still be in place in 2050 is almost certain, thus undermining the  EU climate neutrality goal.

 

by Sergio Andreis
Director of Kyoto Club  

 

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New survey shows high support in Europe for energy efficient homes

A survey conducted by YouGov in four European countries finds extensive public support for new regulations to increase energy savings in homes.

Commissioned by the European Climate Foundation, this polling reveals that people in the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy and Spain want to buy and rent energy-efficient homes.

The survey enquired people looking to rent or buy a property in the next five years. Data show that not only renters and homeowners value energy-efficient properties because they cut energy bills and they are better for the environment, but both agree on the need for regulation aimed at reducing the impact of buildings on climate change.

Some highlights from the survey include:

  • 89% of respondents said that it is overall important for them to buy or rent a property that is energy efficient
  • Yet, the current housing stock is not meeting this demand, with 64% of people saying that there are not enough energy efficient properties available on the market
  • 72% said they would support a policy that required all newly built homes to be well insulated and with clean heating systems
  • Two-thirds of respondents (66%) said that they would support a law that requires existing homes to meet minimum energy standards, with subsidies for affordable improvements standing out as the top incentive that would help citizens deliver on this policy. Support was highest in Spain (75%) and Italy (72%)
  • The respondents who indicated support said this because the policy will reduce exposure to high energy prices (60%) and help combat climate change (59%)
  • 85% said that Energy Performance Certificatesare useful

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

“This survey shows that energy efficiency is not just one of the tools in the decarbonisation kit, but a clear priority for citizens across Europe. Especially after the recent hike in energy prices, people are willing to renovate their homes, they just need the right technical and financial support. This is the perfect time for the EU and its Member States to accelerate the pace of renovations with ambitious legislation, including mandatory Minimum Energy Performance Standards, and adequate resources. The results will be great for citizens, the economy and the environment.”

Harry Verhaar, Head of Global Public Affairs of Signify & Chairperson of EU-ASE, said:

“We all know this needs to be the decade of building renovations in Europe. The fact that citizens are highly supportive of this agenda must be an inspiration for policymakers at EU and national level, starting from the revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. Businesses are ready to play their part and support the wave of high-quality renovations for all buildings. This will help Europe to deliver on its climate goals while providing more energy efficient and comfortable homes, as well as public and private sector buildings.”

 

More information on the survey results

 

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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