Above the radar

(Communicationsworks, 16 Dec 2018) “We can’t oversell Energy Efficiency”, says EEIP* President Rod Janssen. But with the Energy Management System ISO 50001, and the Energy Efficiency Directive in place, it is plain to see for everyone that Energy Efficiency has become an important economic and industrial factor far beyond climate protection.

For Janssen, the best event to learn and discuss best practice, is the World Sustainable Energy Days in Wels, Austria.

Communication Works: Energy efficiency used to be the poor cousin of renewable energy. Unlike for renewables, targets for efficiency were not binding. Today, more policy-makers claim that energy efficiency must come first. What has changed?

Rod Janssen: Energy efficiency has come a long way since the debate started with the first oil crisis in the 1970s. We all remember some vehicle-free Sundays. But we also know how it went: People were afraid that saving energy could harm the economy. Energy use and economic growth were very intertwined.

That is also why energy efficiency used to be measured as energy intensity: energy use per unit of economic output. It is very hard to have a binding target for that.

Energy Efficiency First
What does it look like today?

Now it is commonly assumed that economic growth and energy use can be decoupled and we also know what Energy Efficiency can do for meeting our Paris climate obligations.

Therefore, the European Parliament has taken a much more ambitious approach to Energy Efficiency. The Commission has been a little slower. The Member States are the ones that actually have to implement the policies and are responsible for meeting targets. So, they tend to be more conservative. That’s probably why the Council has been much slower.

That said, they have met half way and agreed to give Energy Efficiency a much higher profile by agreeing to a 32,5% target with an upward revision clause. Also, the target is now on primary energy savings. That makes it easier to monitor developments.Even if the target is still not binding: We’re now finally talking about Energy Efficiency. First.

So, what you’re saying is: Now it’s for real. It’s not just on paper.

We have to be careful because we can’t oversell Energy Efficiency. But one IEA report from 2015 already showed that there are many non-energy benefits. For example, health benefits as the air quality improves. There are also competitiveness benefits that we better understand now.

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Communicationsworks, 16 Dec 2018: Above the radar