An event organised by The Coalition for Energy Savings. 6 May 2015, 13:40-18:30, Residence Palace, Polak room. Rue de la Loi 155 C - 1040 Brussels
On 6th May 2015 the Coalition hosted its annual conference dedicated to ‘Energy Efficiency First’, the Energy Union motto as promoted by the European Commission, and its links with the EU investment plan for jobs and growth. It brought together policy makers, investors and energy efficiency stakeholders to identify how energy efficiency can contribute to a successful investment plan for Europe and vice versa.
Paolo Falcioni, Director General of CECED, the voice of the household appliance industry in Europe, and Chair of the Coalition for Energy Savings, welcomed participants to the first conference dedicated to the “energy efficiency first” motto. The Coalition for Energy Savings is a unique and growing alliance, uniting businesses, professionals, local authorities, trade unions and civil society organisations.
Stefan Scheuer, Secretary General of the Coalition for Energy Savings, presented the Coalition’s position on “Energy Efficiency First”: How to make it happen”. He highlighted that old solutions are failing to tackle today’s energy and climate challenges, but the “energy efficiency first” principle provides an answer. The Coalition defines Energy efficiency first as the principle of considering the potential for energy efficiency first in all decision-making related to energy. Where energy efficiency improvements are shown to be most cost-effective, considering also their role in driving jobs and economic growth, increasing energy security and reducing climate change, these should be prioritised. It outlines the first steps in making it operational in EU impact assessments, policies and funding in order to redress the historic bias towards prioritising increasing supply over saving energy.
In the context of the Energy Union, Pierre Schellekens, Deputy Head of Cabinet for Miguel Arias Cañete, Commissioner for Climate Action & Energy, provided the keynote speech. He underlined that since “energy efficiency first” is such a pragmatic, logical and practical idea, political support has come naturally. He went on to say that energy efficiency needs to be treated equally with increasing generation and that the forthcoming market design and retail market consultative communication, expected before the summer, will be the first step to doing that. In the context of the 2030 climate and energy framework discussions, Pierre announced that there will be a public consultation on the Energy Efficiency Directive in September/October 2015 and the European Commission’s proposals for adapting the Directive to prolong the national 1.5% annual end-use energy savings target beyond 2030 and raise the energy efficiency target to at least 30% by 2030 are expected mid-2016. He highlighted that the Commission’s thinking on many aspects of the Energy Union, including governance, has not ended.
Following this support from the Commission for the principle of “energy efficiency first”, Jeremy Wates, Secretary General of the European Environmental Bureau, introduced the first panel discussion, asking panellists: what is the EU is doing (and not doing) to put energy efficiency first in investments and policies?
Kathleen Van Brempt, Member of the European Parliament and Rapporteur of the Industry committee’s opinion on the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI), kicked off the discussion. She underlined that energy efficiency is a winning solution regardless of the discussion, be it ambition on climate change, energy independence or encouraging investments, but it must be put into practice. She raised concerns that without clear added-value conditions and guidelines, EFSI support would simply follow the old investment patterns, as the EIB recently has shown with its announced support for an airport extension project.
Marie Donnelly, Director at DG Energy, pointed to the EU Barometer which shows that there is public support for the EU to do something, if not for climate change then for security. She recognised that progress has been made and that the energy transition is happening, but two challenges remain: how to motivate individuals and how to ensure access to credits? Asked about the EU 2030 energy efficiency ambition, she responded that it is not the best time to address targets, but that in any case efficiency has now the support of politicians.
Peter Coveliers, Deputy Head in the Climate Change and Energy Division at the European Investment Bank, mentioned the European Energy Efficiency Fund as a good example of what the EU is doing, under which the technical assistance budget is oversubscribed. Pulling examples from a study by French energy agency ADEME assessing national incentive schemes to support investments in efficiency in buildings, he highlighted how such schemes are proven to leverage significant private investment and drive significant energy savings.
Fiona Hall, Friend of the Coalition for Energy Savings and former Member of the European Parliament, introduced the final panel. She asked Monique Goyens, Director General at BEUC: what’s stopping consumers investing in energy efficiency? Monique explained that the two big barriers are behaviour and fuel poverty. Consumers need persuasion, and rewarding, and that this doesn’t need to be money but can be recognition for their neighbours and peers. She highlighted how Ecodesign and Energy Labelling are good tools but need ambition.
From the industry perspective, Luc Rémont, President of Gimélec and President of Schneider Electric France, explained that industry rollout can never be fast enough, but it is happening, and there has been a change across Europe in relation to energy efficiency, exemplified by energy efficiency is now as pillar of the Energy Union.
Ron van Erck, responsible for scaling up the Energiesprong approach in Europe, presented the Energiesprong concept, with a short video. Energiesprong created the market conditions for brokering a deal to refurbish 111,000 houses in the Netherlands to Net Zero Energy levels, with 1,000 planned this year. He called for a fresh approach to EU funding, calling on the institutions to accept that it must first find the innovative solutions that work and that to find those solutions money might be lost but without taking that risk the solutions will not be found.
Claude Turmes, Member of the European Parliament, congratu¬lated the Coalition on it unique position and role in moving forward the narrative on energy efficiency. He underlined the need to continue moving forward quickly and seizing the opportunities for energy efficiency be it driving for jobs, security, and climate protection. He reminded that last year’s efforts from some players to remove energy efficiency from the high level agenda has not succeeded but that attacks continue.
Paolo Falcioni closed the conference welcoming participants to join in celebrating the Coalition’s decision to register itself as an International Non-profit Organisation