Columnists: Rod Janssen, Independent consultant

Published on: 10 Jan 2017

Now is the time for industry to take the lead

Last September, the eceee hosted an excellent conference on industrial energy efficiency (see plenary and workshop presentations here and the proceedings here There were excellent papers and interventions, there was a buzz in the room as people chatted and networked, there was a strong sense that energy efficiency was increasingly a priority for European energy efficiency policy. On November 30 th , the European Commission published its proposals on how clean energy can contribute towards meeting the EU’s obligations for the Paris climate agreement. Yet, when you read the “winter package”, one is amazed how little there is to support more energy efficiency initiatives in industry.

The Commission proposed a binding target for energy saving for 2030 and it has a wide range of initiatives and recommended changes to the Energy Efficiency Directive, the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and others. With the launch, negotiations will now begin to set a long-term policy framework for 2030.

The “winter package” is entitled “Clean Energy for All Europeans” and that is appropriate. There is a focus on consumers and the communication states that it wants all consumers to be involved. When we talk about consumers, we generally mean people who use technologies and energy. It is welcome that the focus is on energy demand. There are many proposals for the buildings sector but few for industry. It is good to review what is being said for industry.

The impact assessment that is part of the “winter package” is a good place to start.  The policy scenarios show that the reductions in industry by 2030 range from 0.5% to 12% compared to the baseline. Interestingly, the savings are mainly driven by the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) together with the impact of Ecodesign on the performance of industrial motors. With all the public criticism of EU ETS, it is curious that it remains the main driver of savings.   The impact assessment goes further to state that in the more ambitious scenarios, there are also savings from horizontal measures and the application of best available technologies. Later the impact assessment shows that there are energy intensity improvements in industry but nothing compared to the residential or services sectors.

This is puzzling and quite disappointing.  The 2012 Energy Efficiency Directive introduced mandatory audits for large industry, the promotion of energy efficiency in SMEs and the promotion of energy management systems. The first round of mandatory audits were completed last year.

The Commission’s Communication discussed facilitating actions related to industry.  These include, for example, initiatives to accelerate clean energy innovation, fostering competition, maximising Europe’s leadership in clean energy technologies and services to help third countries. The Communication also mentioned spurring investment and technological leadership that will create new employment opportunities and enhance citizen welfare.

The Communication goes on that the policies will help industrial production increase in the engineering as well as the iron and steel sectors by up to 3.8% and 3.5% respectively.  This would lead to 230,000 jobs in engineering and 27,000 jobs in iron and steel.

Under the theme of Energy Efficiency First, the Communication mentions that energy intensive industries will need to maintain their efforts towards energy efficiency improvements.  “Such investments generally pay off in terms of reduced energy costs.”

The Communication states that EU industry must be at the forefront of the clean energy transition. Furthermore the “Commission will support industry-led initiatives to promote EU global leadership in clean energy and low-carbon technological solutions.” There it is.  The Commission is expecting industry to take the lead!

When we look at the proposed changes to the Energy Efficiency Directive, we see there is no follow up to the mandatory audits or other associated measures. While the EED promoted energy management systems such as ISO 50001, there was no mention of how successful this has been since 2012 and no support on furthering the concept.

Instead we find out that industry should take the lead and the Commission will follow. This is a curious approach but he challenge is there.

Is it enough for industry?

Well, onward and upward! Now for industry to take the lead!

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