The “Clean Energy for All Europeans” package is changing the European energy regulatory framework and shaping the market. The new policy framework brings regulatory certainty through the introduction of the first national energy and climate plans and will encourage essential investments to take place in this sector. It shall empower European consumers to become fully active players in the energy transition and fixes two new targets for the EU for 2030:
- A binding renewable energy target of at least 32% of the EU’s final consumption, and
- An energy efficiency target of at least 32.5% reduction compared to business as usual
These new targets, along with energy efficiency goals, play an important part in the EU preparations for its long-term vision for a climate neutral Europe by 2050, published on 28 November 2018. A further part of the package seeks to establish a modern design for the EU electricity market, adapted to the new realities of the market – more flexible, more market-oriented, better placed to integrate a greater share of renewables.
Europe’s progress in energy efficiency
Despite developments in the renewable energy front, energy efficiency targets remain challenging for EU member states; final energy consumption has continued to rise since 2014. Energy consumption in the EU gradually decreased between 2007-2014 because of some unwished support from the economic and financial crisis of 2008-2013 that triggered fundamental changes in the European economy. In 2015 and 2016 consumption increased, partly due to cooler winters and lower fuel prices, setting primary energy consumption in 2016 at 4% above the trajectory needed to meet the 2020 target. Additional efforts are needed to ensure that the 2020 and new 2030 target are met, especially as economic growth tends to lead to increased demand for energy. The new package’s framework brings key principles, such as "energy efficiency first" and "global leadership in renewables" as the core of Europe’s commitment to a clean energy transition.
Mandatory energy audits to mobilize energy efficiency in companies
The new integrated regulatory approach is delivered via various regulations, including revised Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) 2018/2002, which entered into force on 24th of December 2018. At the recent European Energy Efficiency conference that took place in Wels, Austria, Karlis Goldstein from the DG Energy unit of the European Commission confirmed that opportunities arising from energy audits imposed by Article 8 of the EED will remain instrumental to mobilize actions to deliver on targets. At the same time, it was noted that many companies still lack awareness of the regulatory requirements and potential opportunities arising from those requirements.
In a study conducted by DG Energy, it was widely recognized that multinational companies often struggle to understand the practical implementation of the audit requirements across Member States. Doing so is a complex exercise that lowers the cost-effectiveness of the audits overall because companies spend too much time and money interpreting requirements state-by-state. Also in attendance at the European Energy Efficiency conference was Dr. Peter Radgen from the University of Stuttgart. According to Dr. Radgen, a significant number of companies are not aware of the requirement to repeat the audits in 2019.
So, here are some recommendations for companies struggling to meet the current EED requirement:
- Understand that EED Phase 2 is different from Phase 1. Start research now about how EED Phase 2 will impact your business and facilities, including the various requirements and timelines across Europe.
- Capture energy data of your facilities and their highest consuming assets. Consider early in the process how you can repurpose data collected for other reporting schemes, programs or initiatives to avoid redundant efforts in time and resources.
- If you’re considering ISO 50001, bear in mind that gaining certification for the energy management standard can take 12-to-24 months. Factor this in when planning.
- Start now to realize savings. Starting soon will allow you time to prepare strategies, resources and budgets to act on the energy efficiency recommendations uncovered by the EED audits, and ultimately drive change across your entire company.
Contributed by Irina Gilfanova, Senior Sustainability Consultant, Schneider Electric Energy & Sustainability Services
Schneider Electric helps their clients with reporting services and software to ensure hassle-free compliance with these types of legislation, so should you need any help, we will be at your disposal. We invite you to contact us!