by P. Capellini
The European Sustainable Energy Week 2015, organized by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Energy in cooperation with the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, took place last June, 15-19.
Focus of this annual platform was on the three main pillars of the Energy Union:
-Decarbonisation through renewable energy;
-Research, Innovation and Competitiveness.
In particular, big emphasis was given to energy efficiency strategies applicable to appliances, buildings and manufacturing for which a great effort is needed at all levels. Energy efficiency is the fundamental tool to reach the 2020 energy-saving target of at least 27%, throughout technological breakthroughs currently under development in Europe: as stated in 2015 Report of the Energy Efficiency Financial Institution Group (Eefig), energy efficiency investment is the most cost effective manner to reduce EU’s reliance on energy imports; the recent fall in the oil price has shown the need for the European Union to have buildings, industry and SMEs whose competitiveness and running costs are better insulated from the uncertainties and volatility caused by commodities price trend.
Effort on energy efficiency enforcement shall come not only from private investments and projects, but also the European regulatory framework shall help enhancing incentives and financial instruments for energy efficiency. Technology and R&D investment in energy efficiency are indeed seen as important factors to drive down implementation costs, but they do not seem a key factor to allow energy efficiency investments to grow in most companies.
Whilst a stable and effective regulatory set, including building certification, building regulations on energy performances classes and energy performance certificates, shall be put in place, enforced and pushed for; from the financial point of view, several action may be pursued, such as a better support capital market innovation, developing market potential for green bonds, citizen financing, addressing barriers to expand the green mortgage market, defining how to include energy costs and energy efficiency potential in mortgage affordability calculations.
The keys to unblock energy efficiency investments
For what concerns large energy intensive companies, such the Pulp and Paper industry, the keys to unblock energy efficiency investments seem to depend on the increased use of energy audits and energy management system implementation (through the use of ISO 5001 series): this strategic and strict planned approach should reduce business interruption risks and the increased energy efficiency investments will reduce the impacts of future energy price increases and volatility; energy management systems are seen as a key tool for large companies to integrate energy efficiency into their processes, increase visibility and raise priority.
Therefore among the most urgent challenge to be faced there is the adoption of sectorial best practices and the development of standard models for legal contracts, procurement procedures, measurement, verification, reporting, energy audits and energy savings insurance products: working on the development of standards approaches to develop energy efficiency baselines for different industries, certification schemes for energy auditors and legal documentation for Energy Performance Contract providers are particularly important tools.