European Council Reduces Energy Efficiency Targets

The European Council has proposed reducing energy efficiency targets from 1.5% per year to less than half of that.

In 2016, the European Commission published its “Clean Energy for All” package with an emphasis on energy and the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED), which is projected to deliver energy savings of 30% by 2030.

Article 7 of this particular directive “outlines requirements for energy efficiency obligations that would deliver about half of the Directive’s entire savings and as such would be a key driver of energy efficiency in Europe,” according to theenergycollective.com.

But recently, the European Council (which is composed of EU member states) made the decision to greatly diminish energy goals within Article 7. The site calculated that, if such amendments are adopted, they would “reduce the Article’s current scope of ambition for energy efficiency by more than 80% — and perhaps by as much as 100% — depending on how member states would implement them.

According to the site, the final outcome of the meeting included adoption of the following loopholes:

  • The headline target was reduced from 1.5% annual savings to just 1.0% after 2025, unless an assessment to be made by the European Commission will result in the recommendation of an increased target.
  • The proposal allows for four exemptions that may be applied in the obligation period from 2021 to 2030. The limit of the combined exemptions has been raised from 25 to 35%. Excess savings from the current Article 7 period (2014–2020) may be applied to lower the minimum savings for the period from 2021 to 2030.
  • Energy savings from new buildings standards and codes may potentially be double counted.
  • Additionality provisions have been weakened, resulting in looser interpretation of the requirements for energy savings counting toward the Article 7 target. Previous analysis identified that the lack of specific requirements led to an inconsistent and potentially less sound approach.
  • The target for small insular states was lowered to just 0.8% of annual energy sales for the period from 2021 to 2030.

The case for energy efficiency in the EU looks grim, however. If high excess savings from 2014 and 2015 continue over the entire period from 2014 to 2020, and all savings from new buildings are fully counted—this could reduce the annual savings target to just 0.04%.

The European Parliament has a chance to mitigate the potential watering down of Article 7 and the EU’s energy efficiency goals in general.

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