Industrial energy almost a third of Europe’s energy

The industrial sector is vitally important in Europe. It covers a wide range of activities from large energy-intensive sectors to small and medium sized companies that have very low energy consumption as a share of total costs. Europe’s industry provides products for use within Europe, and it is also a major exporter globally.

New report 2 February 2016 (updated with improved formatting): Enhancing the impact of energy audits and energy management in the EU

According to the Directorate-General for Growth, industry is the cornerstone of the European economy: producing 80% of Europe’s exports; accounting for 80% of private research and innovation; and providing high skilled jobs. The sector accounts for about 15% of the EU’s GDP and the plan is to get that to 20%. The sector is also a major energy consumer as shown by the diagram.

There has been a significant change in Europe in the past five years for increasing the priority for industrial energy efficiency. Improved energy efficiency is increasingly being seen to address mounting concerns of increased competition from Asia and the United States (because of its cheap shale gas), because of energy security concerns due to the crisis in Ukraine, because of the need to find more jobs and, yes, to increasingly meet Europe’s climate change targets. Most recently, the Commission’s Communication on the Energy Union (25.2.2015, COM (2015) 80 final) considers improved energy efficiency as one of the five mutually-reinforcing and closely interrelated dimensions designed to bring greater energy security, sustainability and competitiveness. (See eceee’s Energy Union page)

Industry the Energy Efficiency Directive

According to the July 2014 Commission’s Communication on Energy Efficiency, “EU industry has historically used energy more efficiently than its US counterpart – and still improved its energy intensity by almost 19% between 2001 and 2011, compared with only 9% in the US18. Between 1990 and 2009 energy intensity in industry in the EU27 improved by 30%.” [1] (See also “US fracking no competitive advantage, KfW Economic Research paper says” and eceee’s pages on efficiency and competitiveness)

The Commission states that the main driver has been the Emissions Trading System, which was effectively the only instrument for the industrial sector until the approval of the 2012 Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) (See eceee’s page on the EED).

The EED includes many elements to improve energy efficiency and achieve energy savings. Art. 8 of the EED describes the requirement for MS to promote high-quality energy audits to all final consumers. Large enterprises are subject to regular, high-quality energy audits at least every four years, starting 5 December 2015 at the latest. The EED also requires MS to promote and encourage the use of energy audits in all enterprises, even small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), households and other small end users. This includes MS developing programmes to encourage SMEs to undergo energy audits and implementation of the recommendations resulting from these audits. In addition, MS are to establish advice and awareness-raising programmes to inform households of the benefits of energy audits. Annex VI of the Directive sets minimum quality criteria for energy audits and energy management schemes.

Large enterprises may be exempted from or be considered as already fulfilling the requirement to undergo regular audits, provided one of following conditions is met:

  • The enterprise in question has been and will continue to be subjected to equivalent and equally regular energy audits that are implemented under a voluntary agreement, and the audits meet the minimum criteria set out in Annex VI of the EED. The voluntary agreement must be between an appointed body and an obliged stakeholder organisation and supervised by the concerned MS, a delegated body or the Commission; or
  • The enterprise is implementing a certified energy or environmental management system according to a relevant European or International Standard, such as EN ISO 50001 or EN ISO 14000/1, that also includes an energy audit, like EN 16247-1. It must also meet the minimum criteria set out in Annex VI.

To provide a better understanding of the role of and experience from energy audits, the eceee recently published a policy guide on industrial audits. The guide focuses on industry, commerce and the public sector, with a special emphasis on smaller companies. It starts by looking at the history of industrial energy efficiency over the past 40 years, and in particular how audit programmes were developed to address barriers to energy efficiency in companies. Their development from simple audit schemes to more sophisticated change management programmes is set out. The guide then sets out basic design principles of an audit programme.

Audits are important because they have to be at the centre of any effective industrial energy efficiency programme. Audits are essentially about information, and lack of information is a pivotal barrier to energy efficiency for businesses. Audits and auditors also form the main point of contact between governments and businesses, and the output of the audit can be used to measure success and deliver support and resources.

The eceee has long advocated audits as an instrument of policy and the eceee library of journal articles and Summer Study proceedings hold around 70 papers on the subject – more than any single programme. There have also been a few excellent academic reviews in recent years. But, strangely, there are very few studies specifically aimed at policy-makers wanting to set up a programme trying to find their way through the technical literature. Thus, this latest eceee policy guide on industrial audits fills an important analytical gap.

Because of its growing importance, eceee holds a dedicated summer study for the industrial sector. More information is available on eceee’s Industrial Summer Study.

Also related to the industrial sector is eceee’s work on competitiveness. More information is available here.


[1] Communication from the Commission, Energy Efficiency and its contribution to energy security and the 2030 Framework for climate and energy policy, Brussels, 23.7.2014, COM(2014) 520 final, p. 6. The Communication states that the data comes from the European Environment Agency 2012.