EU to act on Binding Energy Efficiency Targets

THE EUROPEAN Union will impose legally binding energy efficiency targets within two years according to draft documents seen by Reuters.

We have reported over the last couple of months the to-ing and fro-ing in the EU’s energy efficiency binding targets debate, but it now seems to be coming to a head.

Last week European leaders met at an energy summit in Brussels and delayed even discussing binding targets for two years, but it looks likely that the EU will legally force member states to meet the target to cut energy use 20 per cent by 2020.

According to the draft documents obtained by Reuters, EU energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger is planning to give states two years to improve energy-saving efforts and then impose mandatory targets, rather than just continue discussions at that time.

The bloc is reportedly set to miss its non-binding energy efficiency target by more than half as it is currently expected to only reduce energy use by just 8.9 percent by 2020.

Increased investment in energy efficiency measures could create two million jobs and will result in long-term financial savings for businesses and consumers. But with governments facing budget constraints many national leaders are reluctant to make any sizable upfront investments in improving the energy efficiency of buildings and industry.

Next month a new EU-wide energy efficiency programme will be published by the European Commission as it attempts to reinvigorate the bloc's energy efficiency efforts.

A draft of the programme documents, obtained by Reuters, reveals the action plan will set a new target for public buildings that would require that at least two per cent of buildings are upgraded each year.

"Each refurbishment should bring the building up to the level of the best 10 percent of the national building stock," the plan states.

The plan also proposes an expansion of the existing Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) system, which groups public buildings together and encourages private firms to invest in green renovation programmes in return for a share of the long-term energy savings.

The document also spells out that the latest proposals over the next two years offers the last chance for EU states to cut energy use voluntarily, outlining plans for binding targets within the next two years if their performance does not improve.

Picture by Steve Cadman

Friday 11th February 2011

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