EU’s directive on Energy Efficiency: A Central Europe Energy Partners (CEEP) Perspective

EU’s directive on Energy Efficiency: A Central Europe Energy Partners (CEEP) Perspective

The European Council of October, 2014, agreed on an EU objective of saving at least 27% of energy by 2030, compared to projections, and requested the Commission to review the tar-get by 2020, “having in mind an EU level of 30%”. It was felt that the existing policy frame-work should, therefore, be updated to reflect the new EU energy efficiency target for 2030, and align it with the overall 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy.

Energy efficiency policies have been put in place by the EU for some time now, and they have delivered tangible results. The Energy Efficiency Directive (2012/27/EU), Energy Per-formance of Buildings Directive, Energy Labelling Directive, and Ecodesign Directive are some of the key ‘building blocks ‘ of the current energy efficiency framework. Many climate policies, such as the CO2 performance standards for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, also contribute towards improving energy efficiency.

Since the Energy Efficiency Action Plan was adopted in 2011, primary energy consumption has fallen across the Union, which, at the same time, has seen steady economic growth, and Member States have successfully strengthened their national energy economic programmes.

CEEP has recently responded to the Consultation Paper reviewing the Energy Efficiency Di-rective (EED), and I will briefly look at some of the key answers to the numerous questions raised. In terms of the EED helping to achieve the 2020 energy efficiency targets, CEEP rightly pointed out that contributions differ from country-to-country.

Croatia, for instance, is heavily reliant on its 3rd NEEAP (National Energy Efficiency Action Plan), which features a system for monitoring, measuring and verifying savings, as well as encouraging all stakeholders to implement measures. Poland, on the other hand, could pro-duce rapid rates of energy efficiency through the replacement of old coal power plants with energy efficiency below 30%, with new ones achieving 46% energy efficiency. The positive impact would be 6.8% savings for the decade 2020-2030, plus the bonus of a tremendous decrease in CO2 emissions.

Energy-intensive industries have a major potential to produce energy savings, but they need support from the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), and the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI).
As for the EED working with such entities as the ETS and MSR, CEEP was forthright in its view that, without the MSR, the EU had already reached, in 2013, its 2020 goal of a 20% CO2 re-duction. So, the MSR is not needed in CEEP’s view, whereas an increased focus on energy efficiency performance is seen as important, as it’s lagging behind the CO2 reduction pro-cess.

The Consultation Paper asks about the main lessons learned from the implementation of the EED, and CEEP’s response to that, is that future decision-making should take into account the specifics of each Member State, and try to adjust the commitments depending on various factors, especially the capability of the Member State to confront the set necessities. The EED should also consider certain time lapses, which are needed, to establish and implement the processes, prior to setting the exact numbers/targets to be reached.

When the Commission reviews the 2030 energy efficiency targets, CEEP again repeats the strong message that the EU should consider the various diversities amongst Member States, with particular focus on their economic indicators, as well as the degree of development of the energy market and its’ services. CEEP also makes it clear that there are other tools to improve energy efficiency than just the EED, such as promoting benchmarks, tax and tariff policies. To ultimately support Member States in achieving the set 2030 energy efficiency targets, the EU must provide dedicated programmes and funds allowing them to finance valuable projects.

On the question of sufficient guidance in each Member State to characterise energy efficient products, services, and buildings, CEEP is of the opinion that ‘yes’ is the probable answer: for instance, electric hybrid buses are visible in Central Europe now, along with a wide range of renewable energy sources, and knowledge about the potential energy of water.

Article 7 of the EED, refers to energy efficiency obligation schemes, and 16 Member States have agreed to put an obligation on utilities to reach the cumulative savings by 2020. Bulgar-ia and Poland will use it as the only instrument to achieve the required energy savings. Croa-tia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovenia, will use the obligation scheme in combination with alternative measures. The Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia, will only use alternative measures to reach the required savings. Clearly, opinion is divided in the EU-11, as to the best way forward, here. However, the current commitment of a 1.5% level of energy savings per year from final energy sales, is too high for countries with a GDP per cap-ita, lower than the EU average.

CEEP has a positive view of energy efficiency obligation schemes, and thinks that they will lead to lower energy bills for consumers, better awareness of energy efficiency potential by consumers, and increased competitiveness in the energy markets, amongst other factors. The obligations should certainly continue beyond 2020, and Article 7 should have a dedicated website, listing programmes and schemes offered by utilities, along with other useful docu-ments.
In conclusion, CEEP considers the EED to be a functioning, fairly efficient document, which needs some refining, but overall, must be a stronger driver towards an energy efficient fu-ture, backed by greater funding.

Peter Whiley, specialist Grupa LOTOS, Specialist, Grupa LOTOS