EU Plans For Energy Efficiency
By Paul Homewood
h/t Philip Bratby/Joe Public
Matt McGrath is getting rather excited about the EU’s latest plans:
The European Commission says that it plans to cut energy use across the bloc by 30% by 2030.
The proposal is at the heart of a new package unveiled by the Commission to help meet its commitments to cut carbon under the Paris agreement.
The plans also seek to boost renewables and give greater power to consumers to sell any electricity they produce.
But green groups have criticised the measures saying they keep the door open for subsidies to coal.
Under the Paris Climate Agreement the EU promised to cut emissions of CO2 by 40% by 2030.
Today’s plans to cut waste and make better use of renewables are a key part of that promise.
The Commission’s ideas for a 30% binding target on energy efficiency will see new incentives for smart metering and innovative design. Energy suppliers and distributors will have to save 1.5% each year from 2021 to 2030.
There will also be a big focus on renovating older buildings. This sector accounts for 40% of Europe’s energy consumption and the proposal aims to create a building renovation market with a value of up to 120bn euros by 2030.
The EU says that their Smart Finance for Smart Building initiative will allow member states to unlock an additional 10bn euros in public and private funds until 2020.
"I’m particularly proud of the binding 30% energy efficiency target," said EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete.
"It will reduce our dependency on energy imports, create jobs and cut more emissions."
While welcoming the move on efficiency, campaigners believe the EU could have gone even further.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Renovating older buildings to be more energy efficient will be a priority under the new proposals
"It is good to see this commitment from the EU," said Brook Riley from Friends of the Earth.
"It is a real achievement and it will lift millions of people out of energy poverty and increase emissions cuts, but all of these elements are better with higher ambition. Why stop at 30%? Why not go further and meet the EU’s full potential?"
The Commission also re-iterated its policy of having renewables make up at least 27% of final energy consumption by 2030, including a 50% share of electricity production.
However, in markets where they already have a 15% share, green energy producers will no longer have priority to sell their power to the grid over traditional producers such as coal and gas – a negative development according to many environmental campaigners.
The Commission’s plan also aim to encourage individual consumers and community groups to produce their own power.
Small-scale renewable installations will still have priority on the grid – but there will be a limit on the size of the community or individual power supply.
"It is scandalous to cap the size of renewable energy cooperatives and bias market access in favour of inflexible fossil fuel giants," said Tara Connolly from Greenpeace
"Europe will only meet its climate responsibilities if it enables its citizens to accelerate the transition to 100% renewables."
Image copyright EU Image caption EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete greets his Chinese counterpart at recent climate talks in Marrakech
Another contentious issue is the proposal to limit subsidies for fossil fuels in what are called capacity mechanisms, reserve supplies of power that member states keep on tap to prevent blackouts.
These are often coal or gas fired plants but the Commission wants to impose a limit of 550 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour, which would rule out older coal plants but not newer, more efficient ones.
"The CO2 limit proposed for capacity markets is a bad joke, said Christian Schaible from the European Environmental Bureau.
"It impacts practically none of the existing EU coal fleet and fails to address the toxic health and other environmental impacts of coal."
Supporters point out that these capacity mechanisms will now have to be open to cross border competition and will include schemes which cut demand as a way of ensuring more power is available.
One area where the Commission is making a sharp U-turn is on the use of crop-based biofuels in transport. Instead the EU wants to see newer fuels made from agriculture or forestry waste take up a much bigger share.
Today’s proposals will now need to be approved by member states and the European Parliament.
For the UK, it is not yet known if the new proposals will become law before Brexit. Sources say that the opportunities to bid from some of the funding available under the schemes and to supply energy to neighbouring markets will be the subject of negotiations as part of the UK’s exit.
If you thought that we would all be using 30% less energy in 2030, think again! (Well, it is the BBC we are talking about – you did not actually believe them, did you?)
The first thing to appreciate is that this new proposal is an extension to the 2012 Energy Efficiency Directive. And, as the latest plan reminds us, whilst it is binding at the EU level, there are no national binding targets for the Member States (see page 8).
[I am not quite sure what happens if the EU misses its own binding target – does it fine itself?]
The second thing to realise is that the “30%” claim is not based on a reduction from now, or even an earlier year, but only from what energy consumption is projected to be in 2030. In other words, a Business as Usual case.
Again, as the plan explains, this means that primary energy consumption should be reduced by 23% in the Union compared to 2005 levels. (Page 11).
And what about the progress so far?
When the 2012 Directive was introduced, setting a 20% energy efficiency target by 2020, energy consumption was already 8% lower than 2005, largely because of the financial crisis in 2008, from which the EU has struggled to recover.
Since 2012, little has been achieved, and energy consumption actually went back up last year.
There is little to suggest that the 2020 targets will be achieved, less still the 2030 ones.
The whole thing a classic case of the EU believing it can control events by issuing directives. We all end up with burdensome and meddlesome regulations and bureaucracy.
In the meantime, the rest of the world passes us by.
But don’t expect the BBC to mention this anytime soon!
The EC’s Proposal for amending the 2012 Directive is here: