Energy Union – ECOS’ Reaction

The European Commission (EC) adopted a communication for a resilient Energy Union with a forward-looking Climate Change policy on the 25th of February. Among other ambitions, it aims at giving EU citizens and businesses secure and sustainable energy. One of the pillars of this strategy focuses on energy efficiency with a view to moderating demand. It sets energy efficiency as an ‘energy source in its own right’, encouraging Member States to give energy efficiency primary consideration. 

Regarding energy efficiency, ECOS welcomes the inclusion of references on the Energy Labelling and Ecodesign directives – despite not reflecting the actual importance of these, as they are cornerstone to achieving the EU’s energy saving 2020 objectives and have already contributed towards more than 40% of this target. An ongoing study for the EC documents the tremendous potential of these policies, including 166 Mtoe energy savings, 320 MtCO2e savings, €110 billion expenditure net savings, €54 billion extra revenues for businesses and 800 000 jobs in 2020. For 2030, these results are expected to increase approximately by over 50%, with the monetary consumer savings on expenditure projected to triple, according to the same study. In 2015, the EC is going to revise the Energy Labelling Directive, enabling it to work even harder for EU citizens, businesses and the environment. The Coolproducts campaign, of which ECOS is a founding member, has already put forward it views, on how to get the most out of this reform.

Concerning the energy mix, the EC communication gives ‘waste to energy’ a potential role as energy source. However, with limited natural resources, Europe cannot afford to use resources without thought in activities such as incineration, waste to energy and landfill. ECOS urges the European Commission to clearly prioritise zero-waste policies such as reuse and recycling and material recovery as a means to cut down greenhouse gas emissions and energy usage while promoting the use of alternative renewable energy sources rather than ‘waste to energy’. There are environmental challenges with the waste to energy approach currently not addressed by the waste legal framework or the European standard on solid recovered fuels¹. These include the lack of an adequate minimum pollutant content to limit the releases of harmful emission like dioxins.

With respect to energy security and a fully integrated European energy market, the combination of energy efficiency savings with demand side response should prove to be a powerful mechanism for accommodating variable renewable energy sources in the European energy mix. The EC’s intentions to ‘push for standardisation’ of smart technologies, which would facilitate this vision, are welcome, given the prohibitive challenges of interoperability, functionality and cyber-security. Additionally ECOS calls upon the European Commission to put forward standardisation requests to support the timely development of technical rules for smart grid and smart meters that empower consumers through providing them with information, choice and create flexibility to manage demand as well as supply. 

Moreover, ECOS shares the need to foster innovation and new technologies in power systems and mobility, but priority should be given to safeguard electricity grid stability. In this regard, improving the transparency and inclusiveness of the ENTSO-E Network Codes development process and adoption could assist the balancing of competitiveness and security, and cohesion of centralised and decentralised energy systems.

Finally, ECOS supports the inclusion of system frequency control in household appliances to manage frequency behaviour in emergency grid situations. Grid stability measures will become increasingly important as electro-mobility becomes the dominant means of transport in the European Union and with the greater share of renewable energy sources in the European energy system. 

¹EN 15359 Solid recovered fuels – specifications and classes