EU Energy Efficiency Action Plan
Following the publication of "Doing More with Less: Green Paper on Energy Efficiency” in 2005 showing that:
- 20% of current energy use could be saved by 2020 compared to 2005 levels
- The security of Europe's energy supply could be enhanced with better energy savings
- Energy savings could be a cost-effective route towards lowering greenhouse gas emissions
the Commission presented in late 2006 a comprehensive "Action Plan for Energy Efficiency: Realising the Potential" (EEAP). The EEAP identified 75 specific actions in 10 priority areas to be implemented over six years. The energy saving potential in both commercial and residential buildings were identified as providing the largest cost-effective savings potential of all sectors. The Commission estimated that circa 30% of the energy used in buildings could be permanently eradicated using existing technologies.
For buildings, the EEAP proposed an expansion of the scope of the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), as well as minimum energy performance requirements for new and renovated buildings. The development of a pathway for moving the building stock towards very low energy or passive house standard was also suggested.
The EEAP also provided for new rules on, inter alia:
- Energy performance standards for product groups, such as lighting and boilers
- Improving financing of energy efficiency investments, e.g. via energy service companies
- Awareness and education campaigns
- A "Covenant of Mayors" initiative to create a network of energy efficient cities to exchange best practice and go beyond EU targets
Implementation of the measures contained in the EEAP has been patchy and the Commission has estimated that, based on the current projectory, only an 11% reduction in primary energy use compared to 2005 levels will be achieved by 2020. This is despite the fact that energy savings can be made cost-effectively and permanently in many sectors. The 2020 energy savings target also remains indicative rather than mandatory. Greater ambition levels are needed at EU and national level if substantial energy savings are to be made over the next decade.
The EU Energy Efficiency Plan 2011 was published in March 2011 by the Commission as a follow-up to the EEAP. It is designed to bridge the gap to ensuring the 2020 energy savings target is met. The building sector is a key focus of the updated strategy, which covers all sectors from generation to end-use, and includes:
- Integration with Europe 2020 governance process
- Two-step approach to the 2020 target: 2013 assessment of national programmes; if target not on track, Commission to propose legally binding national targets for 2020
- Requirement for public authorities to refurbish at least 3% of their buildings every year, up to top 10% level
- Proposals to solve the issue of split incentives in building investments
- Mandatory establishment of national energy savings obligation schemes
- Mandatory regular energy audits for large companies; incentives to introduce energy management systems
- Proposals to overcome barriers to Energy Performance Contracting
The Plan will be followed up by a draft EU Framework Directive on Energy Savings in the summer of 2011.
In particular, EuroACE and other stakeholders are calling for measurable and mandatory target(s) for saving energy by 2020 to be introduced immediately. Following the adoption of the EPBD Recast, tackling energy use in the existing building stock effectively still poses a particular challenge for Member States. The rate of renovation for reducing energy demand in all types of buildings must be urgently increased by a factor of two to three times the current rate. At least five million buildings will have to be renovated on an annual basis from now until 2050 if Europe is to move towards a zero carbon society over the next forty years. These renovations must also result in significant energy savings in order to avoid a lock-in effect.
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