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PU Europe: New Energy Efficiency Plan falls short of long-term needs


10 Mar 2011



Today, the European Commission presented its long-awaited Energy Efficiency Plan 2011. While it includes a number of interesting elements, it falls short providing an ambitious framework to meet the EU’s 2020 and 2050 targets.

The new plan rightly puts a particular focus on buildings as they offer the highest cost-effective savings potential. It requires a forerunner role for public authorities, in terms of sustainable procurement, refurbishment and energy performance contracting. PU Europe fully supports these proposals in particular the requirement to lift refurbishment rates to 3%. The plan remains however very vague when it comes to private and commercial buildings, although it identifies the right issues such as financing and split incentives.

On behalf of PU Europe, Oliver Loebel stated: “The document rightly starts from the statement that the EU is on course to achieve only half of its objective to save 20% energy by 2020. The proposed actions are however unlikely save the 370 Mtoe as required for the 2020 target. Too much remains vague and non-binding.”

It is clearly a missed opportunity that legally binding national targets will not be discussed before 2013, although the European Parliament had clearly called for making the 2020 target mandatory. All stakeholders need a clear and stable long-term framework to shift our societies to more energy efficient user patterns. Such targets are of paramount importance for buildings as they allow Member States to develop the right political framework and measure progress.

“Waiting until 2013 before re-assessing the need for binding targets and, if there is a problem,  expecting the construction sector to provide immediately the products and skilled workforce to catch up by 2020 is a gamble with little chance of success”, Loebel concluded. If the EU’s short-term target is missed, it is unlikely that the long-term target of reducing CO2 emissions by 80-95% by 2050 can be met. 

Finally, the proposal regarding energy saving obligations for energy utilities needs careful consideration. It must be avoided that companies in control of the energy supply market also gain control of the energy efficiency market. Any “cherry-picking” of easy solutions to meet a quota to the detriment of a holistic life cycle approach must be avoided.

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