Report and online survey on the Efficiency 1st principle for demand-side alternatives

(31 Mar 2020) A report, from the Horizon 2020 project ENEFIRST, investigates the “Efficiency First” principle and its critical role in the energy transition, and aims to offer options for its practical application in the EU policies. An online survey invites experts to help identify implementation barriers.

Efficiency First (E1st) is a decision-making process that considers demand-side alternatives before locking in new supply-side infrastructure. It is now considered an established principle of EU energy policy and has been embedded in various legislative pieces of the Clean Energy for All package in 2018-2019.

The report ­– Defining and contextualizing the E1st –reviews the background of this concept and existing definitions in order to draw a definition that can serve as a basis for the ENEFIRST project and its specific objectives. This means, according to the report, making E1st operational for the building sector and related energy systems.

In the U.S. similar concepts such as ‘Integrated Resource Planning’ (IRP) and ‘Energy Efficiency as a Resource’ have been developed and sometimes tried in some European countries. The European approach of E1st aims at a broader scope encompassing the entire energy system.

The background analysis of the report highlights the importance of the scope of costs and benefits considered when comparing supply-side and demand-side resources. Based on these analyses, ENEFIRST adopted the following definition of E1st adopted for ENEFIRST is as follows:

Efficiency First gives priority to demand-side resources whenever they are more cost effective from a societal perspective than investments in energy infrastructure in meeting policy objectives. It is a decision principle that is applied systematically at any level to energy-related investment planning and enabled by an ‘equal opportunity’ policy design.

This report discusses the application of the principle in six policy areas (renewable policy, energy efficiency policy, climate policy, power market rules, building policy and energy security) with reference to the main EU legislations in these areas.

The survey can be found here.

View more on the ENEFIRST consortium here.