By 2030, more energy will be saved across Europe than the amount of energy consumed deriving from oil, according to an analysis by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC).
Announcing this project, the European Commission headlined that “energy saving to become the first fuel”. The EC stressed that energy savings should now always be considered by national governments as “an energy source in its own right”.
Even so, it is likely that, between them, European countries will not succeed in meeting the “aspirational” target of improving the efficiency of energy use by 20 per cent between 2007 and 2020. There has been particular criticism of governments like the UK, which a decade ago was regarded as an exemplar on energy efficiency policy. In the latest league table by European Energy Efficiency Watch, the UK is now struggling at 27 out of 28 in the past year.
The JRC report examines the importance of energy efficiency in meeting the EU’s agreed security of energy supply and reduction in import dependency goals set for 2030. It provides “scientific evidence” that demonstrates that transforming energy efficiency into a mechanism to reduce energy demand should ensure that the bloc meets several of its agreed objectives, on security of supply, climate change and competitiveness in a decarbonising economy.
At present, the only “indicative” energy efficiency target for 2030 is just a 27 per cent improvement by 2030. The analysis reveals that if the more ambitious 40 per cent target recommended by the European Parliament, the sum of energy savings and renewable between them would overtake the sum of energy from all imported fossil fuels (oil, gas and solid fuels).
This autumn the EC is set to examine formally what improvements are necessary to ensure better compliance with, or even strengthening, is required for key legislation like the Energy Efficiency, Eco-Design and Energy Performance of Buildings directives.
The JRC scientists are recommending the adoption of a new framework for de-risking energy efficiency investments. The objective is to stimulate and scale-up private investments in energy saving projects, to ensure these compete on equal terms with generation capacity. This is precisely what the UK Energy Efficiency Deployment Office was created by the Coalition Government in 2008 to achieve. It was disbanded after last May’s General Election.