Is efficient sufficient? – a theme throughout the nine panels

The Paris agreement has set a long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, and the aim to limit the increase to 1.5 °C.  Increasing energy efficiency alone will not be sufficient to reach this goal; we also need to look beyond efficiency improvements towards how we can reduce absolute energy consumption. 

The summer study moves the frontiers of energy policy and established practices, and looks at what is really needed to break the curves of increasing energy demand and rising temperatures.

The nine panels are described below and a long version for each panel is found under the respective panel page (along with a presentation of the panel leaders).

Panel 1. The dynamics of limiting (energy) consumption

Next to moving ahead full throttle in terms of trying to curb or even limit consumption, this panel wants to take the time to reflect on where we stand, what we know and should start implementing, who has what role to play in limiting (energy) consumption and empowering action. We want to reflect and move forward with the many discussions still taking place on the topic of dynamics of (energy) consumption. We need this to move away from the often top-down, technocratic, unfair and piecemeal solutions and to be able to start implementing lasting and systemic changes.  Panel 1 welcomes contributions on topics such as:

  • How to explore, research, intervene, envision and police (energy) consumption, both on individual/household and/or on systemic level?
  • How to untangle the academic discussions on the dynamics of energy consumption and become more meaningful for policy and practice?
  • Understanding issues of justice and democracy related to limiting consumption.
  • Communication and empowerment.
  • How to move to more systemic and fair changes in the dynamics of consumption.

We welcome contributions from policy, practice and research. We explicitly invite contributions from areas not usually associated with energy demand research, such as theology, design studies, urban studies, future studies, and system dynamics.

Panel leaders: Erica Löftröm, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway and Ruth Mourik, DuneWorks, the Netherlands. Read more about Panel 1 and its panel leaders.

Panel 2. What's next in energy policy?

As a part of the Paris agreement the EU has agreed to develop a long-term strategy to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions within the Union by 2050 and negative emissions thereafter.

This will create new challenges and opportunities and require an evolving and new energy system environment; one with strong focus on reduced energy consumption, and much more variable and renewable energy supply, with low or zero marginal production costs, in integrated systems with demand flexibility and energy storage.

We welcome contributions (conceptual as well as more practical examples) including the following topics:

  • Design and implementation of sustainable long-term polices and the role of multidisciplinary policies. What fundamental shifts in policies, technologies, systems, etc, are needed?
  • Going beyond energy efficiency – focus on demand reduction and sufficiency
  • How to make the “energy efficiency first” principle workable.
  • The link between energy efficiency and renewable energy.
  • Innovation and new business models. And what governance structure is needed to promote long-term innovations and a low-carbon transition?
  • What are good communication strategies for energy efficiency? Does more participation in policy development help?

Relevant cross-cutting issues are:

  • The multiple benefits related to energy efficiency
  • Digitalisation, big data and internet of things
  • Circular economy

Panel leaders: Peter Bach, Danish Energy Agency, Demark and Barbara Schlomann, Fraunhofer ISI, Germany. Read more about Panel 2 and its panel leaders.

Panel 3. Policy and governance

This panel focuses on how energy efficiency policies can be designed, implemented and managed to generate optimal and lasting energy savings. The panel will focus on topics in relevant European Union Directives, on their interactions and the need of coordination between the Directives. Discussions related to the sufficiency of the Directives, as well as compliance of the Directives are welcome. Contributions should address the following main questions:

  • Policy Redesign: Does the implementation of the different directives lead to considerable synergies or conflicting issues? For example; How can inconsistencies be overcome and under which conditions (e.g. governance, institutional, financial, capacity) can the (re)design and implementation of policies under the EED be enhanced? What are the key resource and capacity challenges that need to be addressed to enable the establishment of a formal monitoring and evaluation procedure for policies under the EED? What key gaps need to be addressed?
  • Cross-sectoral Governance: How can countries improve their policy foundations for energy efficiency? How are energy efficiency policies connected to other related policies? Reciprocally, how are these policies affecting and considering energy efficiency? What are the options/policies available to address barriers in delivery of energy efficiency policies?

Panel leaders: Ingrid Magnussen, The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE), Norway and Vlasis Oikonomou, The Institute for European Energy and Climate Policy, the Netherlands. Read more about Panel 3 and its panel leaders.

Panel 4. Monitoring and evaluation for greater impact

“Balance is the overall theme of this panel – Balancing data availability, balancing client needs and evaluation integrity, balance between approaches, and finally the balance between reduction in energy consumption and a green transition.

Contributions may focus on the following topics:

  • Data availability: The dilemma of too little data might be changing to too much data. And do we have the right data?
  • Client needs and and evaluator integrity: What makes for a contented client and a happy evaluator? How does one balance the client's political need for clear cut answers and proof of impact versus uncertainty in evaluation results?
  • Evaluation approaches: Does reviewing completed evaluations suggest alternative approaches? Monitoring and triangulation using more than one approach to evaluate the same object can reduce uncertainty in evaluation results and also help limit required evaluation budgets. Can e.g. case-based indicators substitute entire program evaluation surveys and measurements – also at a time with smart data?
  • Flexible energy demand: The demand flexibility needed to lower costs and increase the share of renewable energy can result in an increase in energy consumption. How does one evaluate energy efficiency program impact in such a system?

Panel leaders: Kirsten Dyhr-Mikkelsen, EA Energy Analyses, Denmark and Lovorko Marić, Croatian Public Energy Institute, Croatia. Read more about Panel 4 and its panel leaders.

Panel 5. Smart and sustainable communities

This panel invites contributions that are dedicated to the design, development and assessment of smart and sustainable cities and communities. With the starting point that sustainable is always smart, but smart is not necessarily sustainable, the panel welcomes contributions on topics such as:

  • Regeneration of urban space with local actions in cities and rural areas;
  • Local governance structures and strategies for low carbon energy transitions at community and/or urban area level;
  • Multidisciplinary planning for smart and sustainable urban development and energy efficient cities and city districts;
  • Citizen engagement and cross-sectoral collaboration for sustainable communities;
  • “Smart and sustainable communities” as a concept and global outlook on smart and sustainable cities;
  • Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for energy management at community and city district level;
  • Integration of small-scale and large-scale energy solutions, and interaction with energy storage solutions;
  • Demand flexibility for the grid integration of intermittent renewable generation;
  • Smart urban technologies to improve quality of life.

Panel leaders: Agneta Persson, AnthesisEnveco, Sweden and Pedro Moura, ISR University of Coimbra, Portugal. Read more about Panel 5 and its panel leaders.

Panel 6. Transport and mobility

This panel is dedicated to the creation of sustainable and equitable passenger mobility systems and efficient freight transportation. It focuses on issues such as:

  • How can we best take advantage of the efficiency and emissions reduction potential that the transportation can offer to meet ambitious climate and greenhouse gas targets?
  • How can ‘smart’ technologies and emerging-technology-enabled passenger and freight mobility options contribute to the transformation of transportation systems and lead to reductions in energy consumption?
  • How can we integrate land use and transportation planning to ensure sustainable urban development and energy-efficient city transportation networks?
  • How do we ensure that existing and emerging mobility options are accessible to all?
  • Which links between power and transportation networks are crucial for an energy efficient and carbon neutral future? 

Panel leaders: Shruti Vaidyanathan, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) USA and Axel Wolfermann, University of Darmstadt, Germany. Read more about Panel 6 and its panel leaders.

Panel 7. Make buildings policies great again

This panel deals with public and private sector policies to meet the formidable climate and energy challenges in the building sector. The starting point is that more and better action needs to be taken across the whole policy cycle: target setting, strategy development, implementation, enforcement and evaluation, from both public and private players. Insufficiencies in any of these steps will cause failure. Contributions might address:

  • “Paris compatibility” of existing public and private sector policy frameworks’ ambition level (i.e. including private initiatives like “sustainability” certificates, Science Based Targets etc.)
  • Public and private sector policies that deliver real and sufficient savings in buildings: strategy, implementation, monitoring, verification and evaluation
  • Public and private sector policies and programs to specifically support reduction of absolute rather than just specific (e.g. per m2) energy demand (sufficiency) in buildings
  • Examples of public and private sector projects/programs/hard facts where multiple benefits have clearly supported policy-making to increase the ambition towards a sustainable level
  • Climate neutral buildings: how to determine the “right” balance between efficiency and renewable energies?
  • Energy poverty: does it decline or grow in the context of potentially conflicting interests between ambitious retrofit and the provision of affordable living space?
  • Examples of financing instruments to promote “Paris compatible” buildings

Panel leaders: Sibylle Braungardt, Öko Institut, Germany and Andreas Hermelink, Ecofys, Germany. Read more about Panel and its panel leaders7.

Panel 8. Buildings: technologies and systems beyond energy efficiency

The building sector plays a crucial role in international carbon and energy reduction targets as well as in the quest to a renewable energy system. Many technological solutions are currently available, but reaching an optimal implementation and control remains a major challenge.  Contributions could address issues such as:

  • Finding the optimal scale level of energy efficient systems and implementations and exploiting the possibilities of exchanging energy flows in multi-use buildings and districts.
  • Controlling energy flows becomes crucial, especially when moving towards an energy system with greater uptake of intermittent renewable energy sources. We welcome contributions investigating the proven energy saving potentials of smart controls at the level of individual buildings and districts.
  • Guaranteed performance and quality of energy efficiency measures can be turned into a sales argument. We welcome contributions on topics addressing this issue, e.g. through proven scalable building energy retrofits and technologies and design principles that can guarantee thermal comfort by mitigating (chronic) overheating risk in residential buildings.

Panel leaders: Argyris Oraiopoulos, Association for the Conservation of Energy, UK and Stijn Verbeke, EnergyVille/VITO, Belgium. Read more about Panel 8 and its panel leaders.

Panel 9. Improving energy efficiency in ICT, appliances and products

Contributions to panel 9 address topics related to ensuring the energy-efficient design, testing, and operation of appliances, products and the ICT environment. In particular, it covers contributions on the following topics:

  • Energy-efficiency policies for appliances, products and ICT (e.g. Energy Labelling, Ecodesign); robust, cost-effective and fair test standards; market surveillance
  • The role of user behaviour for consumption and savings of applications, products and ICT
  • The impact of emerging technologies on consumption

Panel leaders: Simon Hirzel, Fraunhofer ISI, Germany and Peter Nielsen, Denmark. Read more about Panel 9 and its panel leaders.