Commission launches push to improve heating and cooling

16th February 2016

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  • Generation ,
  • Conventional


Richard Walsh

Buildings and industry must become more efficient to improve energy security and meet carbon reduction targets, the European commission said today as it launched an energy security package.

The package is part of the commission’s energy union strategy, proposed last year. It aims include strengthening the EU’s resilience to gas supply disruptions, in particular by increasing energy production in Europe, developing Europe’s internal energy market and building infrastructure to allow for increased imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The commission is targeting energy used for heating and cooling buildings and in industry as this accounts for 50% of the EU’s annual energy consumption – 13% of all oil and 59% of gas consumed in the EU each year.

European buildings are old and almost half have boilers installed before 1992, with an efficiency rating below 60%, the commission said. The rate of refurbishment of older buildings is below 1%, it added.

So far, renewable generation is not common in the heating and cooling sector, and accounts for only 18% of primary energy consumption. There is a significant potential to increase its share, the commission said.

Proposals outlined by the commission to target heating and cooling include:

  • Measures to ease the renovation of multi-apartment buildings, for example, by increasing use of heat pumps; better cost-sharing to allow both tenants and owners to benefit from the investment spent on renovating old buildings; and strengthening the reliability of energy performance certificates.
  • Increasing the share of renewable energy generation for heating and cooling, with financial support through the European Structural and Investment Funds and the EU Horizon 2020 research and development programme.
  • Reusing energy waste from industry, such as through district heating and cooling systems.
  • Improving energy efficiency in energy-intensive industry, for example, by recovering excess heat with sites through inter-plant heat integration.

The commission said it would take the proposals forward later this year through reviews of the energy efficiency and energy performance of buildings directives and the Smart Financing for Smart Buildings initiative.

But the energy security package as a whole was slammed by environmental campaigners, who accused the commission of overestimating gas demand and locking Europe into decades of fossil fuel use. Prioritising imports of LNG could lead to an influx of carbon-intensive imports such as shale gas, Friends of the Earth Europe said.

Claude Turmes, MEP and energy spokesperson for the Green political group in the European parliament, tweeted: ‘First initiative after #COP21: @EU_Commission comes with a fossil fuel package on #EUEnergySecurity. Is it a bad joke?’


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