New Directive to cut energy use in EU by 17%

16th July 2012


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EU member states will have to take steps to ensure energy consumption is cut by 1.5% a year, under the new Energy Efficiency Directive (EED)

At the final negotiations in June, representatives from national governments rejected the European parliament’s proposal of country-level energy-saving targets, in favour of requirements to undertake actions that will help reduce energy use.

Together with commitments to renovate public-sector buildings and ensure that all large companies undergo regular independent energy audits in line with ISO 50001, the key requirement of the final EED text requires member states to set up an energy-saving obligation scheme that cuts consumption by the equivalent of 1.5% a year up to 2020.

Although the decision to reject national targets was criticised by environmental campaigning groups, including WWF, Liberal Democrat MEP Fiona Hall, who took part in the talks, said that it had never been a realistic aim.

“The commission consulted before coming forward with the draft legislation and it got a very clear message from member states that they didn’t want binding targets,” she confirmed. “The UK, along with virtually every other member state, was much more in favour of binding measures.”

The EED has been developed to ramp up efficiency efforts across the bloc, after the European Commission confirmed that existing policies were failing to deliver the energy savings needed to meet its 20-20-20 goal – to source 20% of energy renewably and reduce CO2 emissions and energy consumption by 20% by 2020.

However, even if member states fulfil all of their obligations under the final EED, the EU will still fall short of its 20% target. Despite this, Hall declared the new Directive a success.

“Although the text on the energy-efficiency obligation schemes is not as strong as the parliament wanted, it is an important achievement; for the first time, member states will have to have a long-term strategy, with policy and measures in place for dealing with the energy efficiency of their buildings,” she said.

“Thanks to the changes insisted upon by the parliament, the Directive will now achieve 17% energy-efficiency savings by 2020 – as compared with less than 15% before negotiations.”

A new clause inserted during the final negotiations will see a review of how the Directive is being implemented in 2016 and, if targets are not being reached, new negotiations will be initiated to improve energy savings.

Designed to inspire schemes similar to the UK’s forthcoming green deal, the final EED text was agreed just days after DECC published more detailed information about the implementation of its flagship energy-efficiency initiative.

In the government’s response to a consultation on the scheme, DECC revealed that the green deal will now roll out to businesses and homeowners at the same time, despite previously stating that the commercial element of the scheme would be delayed.

However, while assessors and installers operating under the green deal will be ready to start work in October, as planned, homeowners and businesses will not be able to apply for finance under the scheme until the end of January 2013.

DECC also revealed that it had expanded the list of technologies eligible for funding under the scheme to include more options for non-domestic buildings.

Firms will now be able to apply for green deal finance to install energy-efficient taps and showers; heating and air-conditioning controls; and radiant heating, as well as biomass boilers, cavity-wall insulation, solar panels and lighting controls.

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