Energy Efficiency Plan 2011
Energy efficiency is considered to be a key component of European energy policy. It therefore constitutes one of the cornerstones of the European Union’s (EU) 2020 strategy. This Plan proposes several directions for a transition towards a more efficient economy as regards the use of energy resources.
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 8 March 2011 – Energy Efficiency Plan 2011 [COM(2011) 109 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
- promoting an economy that respects the planet’s resources;
- implementing a low carbon system;
- improving the EU’s energy independence;
- strengthening security of energy supply.
In order to meet these objectives, the European Commission proposes to act at different levels.
Fostering low energy consumption in the construction sector
The Plan emphasises the necessity to implement the means for reducing final energy consumption in buildings, as this sector is responsible for almost 40 % of the final energy consumption in Europe. However, it highlights several obstacles such as “split incentives” which hinder improvements in the energy performance of buildings.
In order to effectively promote low energy consumption in the construction sector, the training of architects, engineers and technicians should be adapted, for example under the “Agenda for new skills and jobs”.
The Plan also states that Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) may give financial assistance to public authorities to modernise buildings and thus reduce their energy consumption.
Developing competitive European industry
The Commission wishes to encourage new production capacity and infrastructures to replace old equipment. These new infrastructures must comply with the requirements of the Directive on the emission allowance trading scheme and the Directive on industrial emissions.
It is also crucial to introduce a scheme for the effective recovery of heat losses from electricity and industrial production, and to valorise cogeneration.
The Commission also proposes to create instruments which allow financial value to be attributed to energy savings and link profits of utilities (suppliers and distributors) to energy efficiency and not to the volume of energy delivered.
Lastly, the Plan provides for increased energy efficiency in industry, particularly in European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Regular energy audits should become mandatory.
Adapting national and European financing
In order to promote energy efficiency, the European Commission proposes to intensify energy taxation and carbon taxes by means of the following instruments:
- the cohesion policy;
- the Intelligent Energy Europe programme (2007-2013);
- intermediated funding;
- the European Energy Programme for Recovery;
- the Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration activities (2007-2013).
Making savings for the consumer
Initially, the Commission proposes to reinforce the approach of the “Ecodesign” Directive and to define strict standards for heating boilers, water heaters and computers for example.
Furthermore, consumers’ understanding of the Ecolabel should be improved in order to facilitate the choice of energy-efficient products. Consumers should also have information about their own energy consumption in real time by means of “intelligent” individual meters, as recommended in the Directive establishing the internal market in electricity.
Improving transport efficiency
The transport sector represents 32 % of final energy consumption. The Commission intends to define a strategy to improve the efficiency of this sector, for example by introducing traffic management in all modes of transport.
Widening the scope of the national framework
Member States have implemented national plans to meet the target of reducing EU primary energy consumption by 20 %. However, the Commission suggests widening the scope of these plans to cover all stages of the energy chain and better exploit potential energy savings.
In November 2008, the Commission published the Communication “Energy efficiency: delivering the 20 % target” recommending a reduction of 20 %, by 2020, of primary energy consumption. It transpired that this target would be difficult to achieve if the EU did not exploit the considerable potential of energy savings in sectors such as buildings and transport. This Plan therefore proposes new overarching guidelines for energy efficiency taking account of current parameters.
This summary is for information only. It is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document, which remains the only binding legal text.