Columnists: Rod Janssen, Independent consultant

Published on: 25 Oct 2016

Are you ready?

It all hit home the second week of October. I moderated the BUILD UP webinar on the OpenEXP report on The Energy Transition of the EU Building Stock on the Wednesday and the next day I attended Renovate Europe Day in Brussels. The elephant in the room was the pending energy efficiency package from the European Commission that will fire the first shot at revising the 2010 Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and the 2012 Energy Efficiency Directive.

Are you ready? Is anyone ready? Yes, we got anxious recently when there was a leaked version in September. There was the Commission’s impact assessment and all the recommendations. Well, then the Commission said, no, it was delaying publishing the package for a couple of months and that it would look different than that leaked.

So now we wait until the end of November.  The suspense is killing us.  All we know is that the Commission will have to take into consideration what the European Union has committed to at the Paris climate conference in December 2015. But, what contribution will energy efficiency make in meeting those ambitious climate objectives?

But, how will we react? What do we want? Will we be satisfied with what the Commission presents? What contribution to meeting our Paris objectives should energy efficiency realistically make? How will energy efficiency and renewable energy policies “converge” to form a formidable “sustainable energy” package? Well, more importantly is whether they should at all.

Yamina Saheb from OpenEXP gave a convincing argument in her report about how we can and should ramp up our ambition and she outlined the changes that should be made to relevant EU policy instruments. I am working with Catrin Maby and Louise Sunderland. We prepared a recent discussion paper on why any future renovation strategy needs to integrate energy advice into the policies. We provided specific recommendations on how the energy efficiency directives could be revised to ensure the needs of the consumer are met.

I’m still not sure what we should be recommending to improve the Energy Efficiency Obligation (EED), the mandatory audits for industry (EED), Energy Performance Certificates (EPBD) and essentially the whole range of themes in the EED and EPBD. It is not good enough to know what the state of implementation is, although there are indications that there needs to be many improvements. If we are talking about energy efficiency playing a bigger role in meeting our climate objectives, we are talking about taking energy efficiency to an entirely new level.

While I enjoyed the excellent presentations at Renovate Europe Day, I was not convinced that we truly saw the renovation strategies of the future that will really achieve enough deep renovations to make enough of a difference.

I did not mention that on the Friday the same week, I attended the International Energy Agency’s first high-level conference on energy efficiency. It was welcome to see this, although I was disappointed that there was no specific reference to it on the IEA website. That said, there were many important statements by senior officials and politicians, showing that energy efficiency is truly anchored in the heart of energy policy. At the conference, there was a discussion on whether we are talking about energy efficiency as the first fuel or as “Efficiency First” which is quite a paradigm shift. Efficiency First really means that energy demand needs to be addressed before we consider new supply. This will not happen overnight but you can see the progress we have made in recent years.

There are great expectations from the Commission’s forthcoming energy efficiency package.  We now have decades of experience and we more or less know what works and what doesn’t. We are seeing new technologies give us hope for further improvements. Yes, that even includes the smart meter that is currently being rolled out throughout Europe. There are many who argue that it won’t do much for improving energy efficiency, even though they have been praised for potentially doing so.  In and of themselves, they won’t save energy without complementary measures and convincing consumers how to use them wisely. But, they do mean that we will have better and more reliable energy consumption data. That will provide many benefits over time, especially in monitoring progress.

But at the end of November we will be faced with proposals for updating our current energy efficiency directives. We will have one eye on the future (2030 objectives for one) and another on today’s policies to meet our 2020 targets (that, yes, are around the corner).

Where will we go? Will we just tidy up our current policies or will we move in a bold, ambitious direction?

We have to decide soon. Are you ready?

The views expressed in this column are those of the columnist and do not necessarily reflect the views of eceee or any of its members.

Other columns by Rod Janssen

Oct 2016

Apr 2016

Nov 2011