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National energy efficiency and energy saving targets

Are some targets more equal than others? The evidence

The European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy today published a study on national target setting. The study provides a snapshot of the current use of energy saving targets and opinions about these across the EU, and is based on a broad survey and stakeholder consultation. eceee also opened a page on EU efficiency policy issues and targets.

Prepared by ACE and Dr Joanne Wade, the new eceee report is based on a survey completed by eceee members and other contacts in most Member States together with an online stakeholder consultation. The report is designed to help decision-makers and relevant stakeholders appreciate how targets are currently used and how effective they can be. It is hoped that this report will provide evidence to be used in upcoming policy development discussions – particularly surrounding the upcoming draft energy efficiency directive and the European Commission’s review of whether targets need to be made mandatory for the EU to meet its objective of a 20% primary energy saving by 2020.

ACE’s Director Andrew Warren has written an article on energy efficiency targets inspired by this report, and more of ACE’s take on it is summarised below:

In our own view as co-authors we think that:

The Energy End-use Efficiency and Energy Services directive (ESD) – which set an indicative energy efficiency target of 9% energy saving by 2016 compared to the average 2001-2005 consumption – has led to a degree of consistency across Member States in terms of reporting the energy savings of programmes, though it by and large has not resulted in new or expanded energy saving effort. In new Member States, it has raised the profile of energy efficiency policy. In older and larger Member States, it has been little more than a box-ticking exercise.

  • No legally binding public sector energy saving targets have been reported. Given the exemplary role the public sector is required by the ESD to play, this is serious cause for concern.
  • There is lively debate, and diverging views (both within and across Member States), about the harmonised methodology for reporting energy savings. It’s currently a stumbling block. Achieving consensus on the matter is a prerequisite to any credible EU targets, binding or not. Consensus would be best achieved by a harmonised method which is based on the lowest common denominator of Member States’ capability of measuring energy saving progress. The method can improve over time as Member States do.
  • There are a huge variety of economy-wide and sectoral energy saving targets which are not related to the ESD, nor to the 2020 20% objective. Any EU targets, especially if there is to be burden-sharing between Member States, need to be informed by what is already in place at national level.
  • Very little has been reported about how energy saving programmes contribute to the 2020 target. Also very little has been said about National Reform Programmes (the latest round of which will outline how the 2020 objective is to be met). At best, this suggests that the ESD target is taken more seriously. At worst, having more than one EU target (ESD and 2020) is counter-productive.
  • The use of energy saving obligations on energy utilities and white certificates programmes across Europe is growing. This is both in terms of the number of Member States using them and their increasing ambition (in terms of the size of obligations set). They use a variety of pragmatic methods to measure energy savings, (mostly) bottom-up. Valuable and increasingly positive experience is being accumulated. They are mostly successful and in some respects represent an ‘outsourcing’ of binding and credible energy saving targets to the private sector. The debate about binding EU targets must be mindful of this trend.
  • The EU has binding carbon and renewables targets, but they are simply not filling the ‘energy efficiency gap’. They might begin to do so as they become more stringent in later years, but that is too late. Energy efficiency has to be granted the same binding status if the EU is serious about its 2020 objective, and serious about meeting its climate obligations at least cost.

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