ACHIEVING THE ENERGY EFFICIENCY APPROACH IN EUROPE

Energy efficiency is a key component to achieve the European energy transition. Beyond the climate and economic benefits it engenders, energy efficiency fosters the emergence of the new industrial sectors of tomorrow, thereby consolidating a Europe severally impacted by the economic crisis. Whilst the European Commission is expected to propose a new energy efficiency framework in October 2016, stakeholders from the energy sector, with the support of UFE, from the building and financing sectors gathered in Brussels on June 21rd in order to identify a common strategy for a “successful energy efficiency approach in Europe”…

As UFE’s new President Christine Goubet-Milhaud underlined in her opening speech, all energy efficiency policies should integrate current economy, budgetary and financial constraints in the first place.

Targeting brings more efficiency

The study conducted by UFE in December 2014 recommends targeting the sectors with the highest potential in terms of energy savings, and prioritizing energy efficiency actions with the greatest and fastest return on investment comparing to the savings made. In the short term, concrete actions can be implemented : for instance, in the residential sector, promoting in priority operations aiming to increase buildings’ performance (heating, renovation, insulation) and shifting uses for housing heated with high-carbon energies. Indeed, energy efficiency policies have to go hand-in-hand with the fight against climate change, which is the core objective of the European energy and climate for 2030. Furthermore, though it is capital that the carbon price-signal represents in the long run the real triggering element for investment in energy efficiency, defining appropriate financial leverages is necessary considering the current state of the European carbon market. The European Mortgage Federation, represented by Jennifer Johnson at the conference, is precisely working on it and has developed for the past few years a system of ‘green bonds’ incorporated in housing loans.

Structuring the sector at the European level

One should not forget that energy efficiency concerns us all and gathers numerous actors, from construction companies, to material producers and suppliers, private and institutional investors, and consumers. Thus, structuring the sector is pivotal in order to reduce the costs of technologies and develop innovative offers that meet the new challenges. Noting that this sector is extremely diverse ! Across the Atlantic, the start-up First Fuel, represented by his Vice-President for Marketing and Strategy Indra Rathnaticam, builds upon the use of existing energy data and makes it a powerful tool for auditing and controlling energy consumption as close to the consumers’ needs as can be… In the same vein, French start-ups Perfesco, represented by CEO Laurent Kraif, and Dalkia, represented by Senior Analyst Yann Ménager, excel in designing, installing and implementing effective energy solutions that guarantee the economic and environmental sustainability of energy uses.
But in order to safeguard the future and uptake of those services, Riccardo Viaggi, General Secretary of the European Builders Confederation (EBC), underlined the need of a U-turn in structuring the energy efficiency services sector. He called for a “cultural change” that could be notably implemented by setting up an appropriate public policy and promoting trainings for SMEs and small craftsmen.
The European Union would be misleading should it forget that energy efficiency, as fifth pillar of the Energy Union, is a source of growth and jobs for the Union…in addition to contributing to the energy and climate targets ! Message heard loud and clear, according to Paul Hodson, Head of the “Energy efficiency” Unit at the European Commission, who announced that this aspect will be integrated in the forthcoming legislative proposal… To be continued this October !

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