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Energy efficiency must be the foundation of Europe’s energy future

February 29, 2012 5:04 PM

Tomorrow, the European Parliament's Industry, Research and Energy Committee will vote on proposals to help the EU achieve its ambition of reducing energy consumption by 20% in 2020. Current forecasts predict that the EU is only on track to achieve a 9% reduction on 1990 levels.

ALDE MEP Fiona Hall (Lib Dem, UK), who was Parliament's rapporteur on the 2006 Energy Efficiency Action Plan and is now following the proposed Energy Efficiency Directive on behalf of the ALDE Group, said that the lack of binding energy efficiency targets was one of the main reasons why so little progress had been made. Hall said that it was vital that the new bill had a high and binding level of ambition so that the target of absolute primary energy savings of 20% would be achieved. But she conceded that Member States must be given more flexibility in carrying out the measures necessary to meet that ambition.

Commenting ahead of the vote, she said:

"Saving energy is by far the easiest and least costly way to reduce Europe's carbon footprint and keep energy bills down for consumers at the same time as improving our energy security overall.

"The lower the demand, the less we depend on energy imports from politically unreliable sources. Saudi Arabia has already announced that oil prices will stay above $100 per barrel for the foreseeable future. Reducing our energy imports will be key for keeping energy prices in Europe under control."

Hall added that knowing how much energy will be needed in 2020 would also facilitate infrastructure planning and avoid costly over-investment.

Commenting on the relationship between the Energy Efficiency Directive and the Emissions Trading Scheme, ALDE MEP Vladko Panayotov (Movement for Rights and Freedoms, Bulgaria), who followed the dossier in the Environment Committee, continued: "The Commission must come forward with proposals to adjust the EU's Emission Trading System to take account of the Energy Efficiency Directive's impact on the carbon price. This needs to be restored to its original level in order to provide strong incentives for low-carbon investments."

After the vote in Committee, it is hoped that informal negotiations on the Energy Efficiency Directive will take place between the Parliament and Council in order to achieve a first reading agreement under the Danish Presidency.


Note to editors:

1) ALDE in particular welcomes the long-term building renovation roadmaps that Member States have to develop (Art. 3a), and the 2.5% annual deep renovation target on public authorities or alternative measures that would result in an equivalent amount of energy savings (Article 4). ALDE believes public authorities should lead by example to spur innovation in the construction sector, help create a good skills base and thus prepare the industry to prepare for the level of renovation needed to be undertaken by 2050.

2) ALDE also welcomes the obligation placed on energy companies to achieve annual energy savings of at least 1.5% among the final customers (Article 6).

3) ALDE has successfully pushed for more flexibility towards SMEs to provide them with incentives and advice on potential benefits of reduced energy use without making energy audits and energy management system obligatory on them (Article 7).

4) ALDE welcomes the less prescriptive approach towards Combined Heat and Power (CHP) obligations which should be based on a sound cost-benefit analysis designed by Member States nationally and based on EU guidelines.