Energy Efficiency First principle in practice – Report. Online survey open until 15 May

(eceee news, 14 May 2024) The general approach to the EU LIFE Energyfirst Plus project is to complement existing resources to plug Energy Efficiency First (EE1st) principle in major decision-making processes. This will be tested with pilot cases in four Member States – Croatia, Italy, Greece and Poland.

The first report of ENEFIRST Plus provides an overview of recent EU policy developments relevant to EE1st, and then analyses the background in the four pilot countries for the first pilot cases. While publishing thereport, the projects has launched an online survey to collect views on EE1st, open until 15 May: https://ec.europa.eu/eusurvey/runner/ENEFIRSTplus1

The European Union has embraced the Energy Efficiency First (EE1st) principle as a cornerstone of its climate and energy policies. The advocates prioritizing energy efficiency improvements and demand-side resources over traditional supply-side infrastructure, if they are more cost-effective and environmentally beneficial.

With the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2018/1999 on the Governance of the Energy Union and Climate Action, the regulatory framework supporting EE1st received a significant boost, enshrining EE1st as a fundamental principle guiding the development of National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) across EU Member States. In September 2021, the Commission Recommendation (EU) 2021/1749 was issued. It provides comprehensive guidelines for implementing EE1st across key sectors.

Apart from Article 3 of the new Energy Efficiency Directive (EED), new provisions highlight key areas where EE1st should be systematically considered, including:

  • Development plans and investments made by network operators (Article 27 EED); 
  • Comprehensive assessments on heating and cooling, and local heating and cooling plans (Article 25 EED); 
  • National Building Renovation Plans (Article 3 of the new recast of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive). 

The first set of pilot cases of Enefirst Plus include explorations of the following areas: 

  • Transmission network development plan and cost-benefit analysis for transmission grid projects (Croatia); 
  • Heating and cooling plans (Greece); 
  • Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans of municipalities (Italy); 
  • Cooperation between DSOs and prosumers (Poland). 

The preliminary analysis of the policy and legislative background on EE1st in each pilot country shows diverse situations and that the draft updated NECPs often address EE1st in general terms, without clarifying how EE1st would be implemented in practice.

View the report here