Turmes: “This sort of measure will create economic growth”
By Marie-Martine Buckens | Monday 18 June 2012
The agreement concluded between the Council and the European Parliament on the draft Energy Efficiency Directive comes at a crucial time, said MEP Claude Turmes (Greens-EFA, Luxembourg) after the Energy Council that was held on 15 June in Luxembourg. At a time when gas and petrol prices are increasing, and the price of electricity is unstable, this directive is reassuring, said Turmes, the EP’s rapporteur on the matter. He added that it was also good for SMEs and the industry, which will no longer need to spend €500 billion buying petrol or gas; it is good for employment, not to mention the fact that it avoids a disaster for the EU before it goes to the Rio+20 meeting.
After a month of a drawn-out war with Council, the MEP said he was satisfied with the compromise even though it is still far from the energy efficiency target proposed by the Commission (-20%, compared with -9% by applying the measures currently proposed by the member states).
According to Turmes, the informal agreement, reached on 15 June (which has to be formally approved by the EP), should allow to reach 15% of energy savings in 2020, and 17% when taking into account the measures expected in the next few weeks – to reduce the CO
2 emissions of light vehicles. The remaining 3%, said Commissioner Günther Oettinger, could be reached by various market instruments, namely ecodesign measures for electric devices and boilers. In 2014, the Commission could propose other measures, including binding national targets. The Energy Efficiency Directive lays down that each member state will settle its objectives, and will present a plan of action for energy efficiency every three years – in 2014, in 2017 and in 2020, with the Commission having to evaluate the progress made by June 2014. The directive lays out specific measures for:
Renovating buildings:The directive would require member states to renovate 3% of the total floor area of buildings owned and occupied by their central government. This would apply to buildings with a “total useful floor area” of more than 500 m², and as from July 2015, of more than 250 m². However, member states would also be able to use alternative means to achieve equivalent energy savings, eg thorough renovation.
Energy efficiency schemes for utilities: Energy companies covered by the directive would have to achieve a “cumulative end-use energy savings target” by 2020. This target would have to be at least equivalent to achieving new savings, each year, from 2014 to 2020, of 1.5% of annual energy sales to final customers, by volume, and averaged over the most recent three-year period before the directive takes effect. Sales of energy used in transport could be excluded and alternative ways to achieve equivalent energy savings would be permitted, provided that equivalence is maintained. Furthermore, member states would be entitled to exclude sales of energy used in certain industrial activities from energy consumption calculations, provided that the sum of these exemptions, and energy savings with a continuous effect resulting from individual actions already in place since 2008, do not together amount to more than 25% of the total national energy saving target. Parliament’s negotiators ensured that the article on exemptions must be reviewed by the European Commission in 2016, with a view to rendering it more ambitious.
Energy audits:All large enterprises would be required to undergo an energy audit. These audits would need to start within three years of the directive’s entry into force and should be carried out every four years by qualified and accredited experts.
Promoting efficiency in heating and cooling: Member states would need to carry out and notify to the Commission a “comprehensive assessment,” by December 2015, of the scope for applying high-efficiency co-generation and efficient district heating and cooling.
Financing facilities:The directive is calling on member states to establish ad hoc financing facilities for energy efficiency. One idea could be to draw up a national energy efficiency plan whereby central governments and utilities would contribute equal amounts towards the investments required for renovation or to meet the directive’s requirements.