So the new Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) is official, and Member States will have to comply with the provisions of this directive within 18 months from its entry into force. Hopes are high for the successful implementation of the directive and the consequent energy savings – but so much depends on local and regional action across the EU.

‘Local and regional authorities are where a lot of detailed decisions have to be taken in order to favour energy efficiency; be it on training, urban planning regulations, and so on. For me, local and regional authorities are something like embassies for the transposition of the EU Energy Efficiency Directive’, said Claude Turmes MEP and rapporteur of the EED.

‘It will be very interesting to see what happens in the national transposition of this directive’, said Valérie Geraert of the Regional Council Nord – Pas de Calais, France. ‘Here in France, the CEE (Certificats d’économies d’énergie) will play a vital role in achieving the 1.5% end-use energy savings target. For ESCO arrangements, uncertainty over long term energy prices is a major factor. To mobilise investment, we will require new legislative arrangements for green fund management when putting private and public money together. There are a lot of challenges ahead.’

Challenges exist in Ireland, too, where the directive will require an accelerated introduction of more energy-saving measures if the country is to meet its 2020 targets.

Under the directive, each Member State will be obliged to set an indicative national energy efficiency target, based on either primary or final energy consumption, primary or final energy savings or energy intensity. By 30 June 2014, the Commission will assess the progress achieved and whether the Union is likely to achieve energy consumption of no more than 1474 Mtoe of primary energy and/or no more than 1078 Mtoe of final energy in 2020.

‘Unless there is government intervention, Ireland faces possible EU fines and a situation whereby Irish householders and businesses will continue to waste millions of euros each year on heating poorly insulated and energy inefficient buildings,’ said Seamus Hoyne, head of the Department of Technology, Science and Flexible Learning at Limerick Institute of Technology in Ireland, and manager of SERVE, an EU-funded project that aims to set new standards for energy performance and renewable energy supply in rural Ireland.

According to Hoyne, ‘analysis of energy savings of 300 homes which completed upgrades, showed approximately €200,000 was saved in energy consumption. If this level of savings was applied to all Irish homes the total savings would be €1bn per annum.

‘With increasing fuel prices the rate of return will increase further making energy efficiency a sound investment. Furthermore, homes which have poor insulation levels not only lose energy but also are uncomfortable for residents. Our analysis has shown that
during major changes in external temperature (from 20C to 3C), the internal temperature only changes by 2C in a well-insulated house.’

Jimmy Magro of the Local Councils’ Association in Malta made a case for the context of smaller member states, and those in a Mediterranean climate. ‘Our situation is very different to the Northern European Member States. Reducing cooling, rather than heating, demand is more difficult and therefore more expensive. We welcome initiatives that increase the collaboration among Mediterranean Member States’.

The new legislation also encourages public bodies to make use of Energy Services Companies (ESCOs) offering Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) to implement building renovations and to implement plans to maintain or to improve energy efficiency in the longterm. DG Energy has launched an EU-wide Energy Performance Contracting Campaign at the national level (in co-operation with EPEC), regional level (through ManagEnergy) and local level (via the Covenant of Mayors).

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