The Energy Efficiency First (EE1st) principle is a guiding principle for energy–related decisions in the European Union. It is enshrined in the Governance Regulation (2018/1999) through a clear definition: “‘energy efficiency first’ means taking utmost account in energy planning, and in policy and investment decisions, of alternative cost-efficient energy efficiency measures to make energy demand and energy supply more efficient, in particular by means of cost-effective end-use energy savings, demand response initiatives and more efficient conversion, transmission and distribution of energy, whilst still achieving the objectives of those decisions.”
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In a nutshell, the EE1st principle aims at removing existing market and regulatory barriers to energy efficiency to ensure that demand side resources can compete on an equal footing with supply side ones; it is also should lays the foundations for good infrastructure planning in support of the energy transition.
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Applying the EE1st principle also means fully taking into account the multiple benefits of energy efficiency. A quantification of multiple benefits in all cost-benefit analysis is crucial to correctly value energy savings and will lead to include demand–side considerations more systematically in policy making and investment decisions.
To support the application of the principle, the European Commission is developing specific guidelines to help with the operationalization of the principle; the publication of the guidelines is expected in the 3rd quarter of 2021.