Updating the European Strategy on Energy Efficiency: Making Better Use of Energy Resources

Energy efficiency measures are increasingly recognised as valuable means to achieve a sustainable energy supply. Furthermore, they reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve security of supply, cut households’ bills, and even promote competitiveness.

In 2016, the International Energy Agency (IEA) claimed that “energy efficiency is the one energy resource all countries possess”. It highlighted that global energy intensity improved by 1.8% in 2015, three times the average rate of improvement between 2003 and 2013, even as oil prices plunged by as much as 60% since mid-2014. At the EU level, energy efficiency is now perceived as a high priority, and measures are being taken to focus on sectors in which the potential for savings is greatest.

According to the 2015 “Energy Efficiency Directive implementation progress report”, Member States were failing to achieve their energy efficiency objectives, and this led the Commission to lay down the 2015 ‘Energy Union Roadmap’, aimed at reviewing the energy efficiency directives and focussing on three main areas: heating and cooling, energy performance of buildings and energy efficiency of products. In February 2016 the Commission launched the EU Strategy on Heating and Cooling, which includes plans to boost the energy efficiency of buildings, encourage reuse of waste heat and cold generated by industry and improve linkages between electricity systems and district heating systems. In November 2016, the Commission presented a proposal for a review of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) and the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED), and for a ‘Smart Finance for Smart Buildings’ initiative. Finally, in July 2017, the European Parliament and the Council adopted a Regulation setting a new framework for energy efficiency labelling of products.

As reported by the IEA (Energy Efficiency Market Report, 2016), currently 70% of global energy consumption is not subject to mandatory efficiency standard targets, but nations cannot harness efficiency's full potential without effective policies. Along with policy developments, consumption habits play a fundamental role in achieving ambitious goals, as new consumption opportunities may arise as a consequence of energy efficiency gains, which may undermine efforts to reduce overall energy consumption. Finally, innovation is a major enabler of improvements in efficiency, through the retrofit of old technologies and the implementation of newer and more sustainable ones.

This symposium will provide a timely and invaluable opportunity to engage with the latest developments in the EU legislative framework on energy efficiency. It will also enable attendees to examine the societal factors that drive energy consumption, the latest technological innovation that will bring about further efficiency gains and the best solutions to finance energy efficiency projects. The symposium will also offer delegates a platform to share ideas and best practice from across Europe.

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