EU ready to increase energy efficiency target to eliminate Russian gas

(EurActiv, 28 Mar 2022) The European Commission is revising the economic assumptions behind its energy and climate laws package presented last year, saying sky-high gas prices fuelled by the war in Ukraine have strengthened the case for more ambitious energy efficiency goals.

Brussels tabled a revision of the energy efficiency directive last year, introducing new targets to reduce primary (39%) and final (36%) energy consumption by 2030, becoming legally binding at the EU level. The current target – of 32.5% overall by 2030 – is non-binding, leading to criticism that the European Union was being too soft on enforcement.

“Obviously, the situation has changed because we are now unfortunately in a world of higher energy prices,” said Claudia Canevari, an EU official heading the unit in charge of energy efficiency at the European Commission.

“The Commission is looking into how a higher energy efficiency target could be substantiated,” Canevari told participants at a EURACTIV event held earlier this month.

Discussion on the recast directive is currently ongoing in the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers, “so it is important to provide the scientific support to the extent possible so that both co-legislators can agree on more ambitious targets,” Canevari added.

Previous estimates found that the economic potential of energy efficiency gains were 5% lower than the technical potential, meaning it was too costly to aim higher. But with gas prices now likely to remain high long-term, Canevari said those assumptions need to be revised.

“Our assumption is that this gap of five percentage points has reduced. But we still don’t have the full analysis, so we are looking into it,” she said.

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EurActiv, 28 Mar 2022: EU ready to increase energy efficiency target to eliminate Russian gas