EU needs energy savings test for successful Energy Union

The Energy Union and, in fact, all energy market-related decisions must introduce a “savings test” before any energy infrastructure decisions are taken. 2015 will see a significant number of Commission proposals including those on the Energy Union and supply security. This offers a window of opportunity to truly make energy efficiency Europe’s “first energy source”.
Oliver Loebel, Managing Director of PU Europe commented: “Before the adoption of any supply side measures, it must be verified whether their goals in terms of supply security, cost-savings, job creation and CO2 emission cuts can be more effectively reached by similar investments in energy efficiency, in particular, in that of buildings.”
This new, system-wide approach would put energy efficiency on an equal footing with generation and transmission. Current and future energy efficiency gains would hence become an important parameter in energy infrastructure decisions.
Europe has a lot to gain from such a test. The benefits from energy efficiency can be reaped immediately, whereas large supply side and transmission grid investments frequently suffer from substantial uncertainties and delays. For every 1 % energy savings, gas imports are reduced by 2.6 % [1]. Our building stock offers a particularly impressive potential. A recent study showed that buildings use a significant 61 % of all imported gas today. The good news is that deep renovation can reduce the sectors gas consumption by 95 % by 2050 [2]. Furthermore, between 13 and 17 jobs would be created or maintained per €1 million invested in energy efficiency measures [3].
“Europe needs immediate results with long-lasting effects. This paradigm change will ensure that Europe’s funds to guarantee a secure, affordable and low-carbon energy supply are used in the most effective way,” Loebel concluded.
[1] European Commission, Impact assessment accompanying energy efficiency communication, 2014
[2] Ecofys for Eurima: “Deep renovation of buildings – An effective way to decrease Europe’s energy import dependency” (2014)
[3] IEEP, Review of costs and benefits of energy savings, 2013