Energy efficiency report based on outdated studies
By Wendel Trio
Tuesday’s EUobserver article “No benefits from EU energy projects for 150 years” seems to imply that energy efficiency projects are a waste of money. CAN Europe would rather the article focused on the real problem: the lack of oversight on the types of projects that received EU funding during the study period.
There are many examples of energy efficiency projects in the EU with pay-back periods as short as 6 years, such as one audited social housing project in Lubeck, Germany. Clearly this time frame is much shorter than the 150 years cited in the EUobserver headline. This project, however, did not receive EU funding.
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The studies cited in the European Court of Auditors (ECA) report were performed on projects that were developed more than a decade ago, long before the existence of coherent EU energy efficiency policy. In the years since, this policy area has been maturing, culminating most recently in the new Energy Efficiency Directive (EED). Ambitious implementation of the EED, together with a binding EU-wide energy efficiency target for 2020 and beyond, would help ensure that the know-how and efficient supply chains needed to deliver cost- and energy-efficient projects take shape and grow.
Building renovation projects that are well-conceived and well-managed offer enormous potential benefits to those who undertake them, in terms of cost savings and improved comfort, and to society in terms of reduced energy imports, lower bills and job creation. The real take-home point of the ECA report is that Member States must conduct proper needs assessments and commit to regular monitoring of projects in order to receive this type of funding. If this were required within the context of today’s more robust EU energy efficiency legislation, public funding for energy efficiency projects would become a cost-effective and important element in achieving the EU’s climate objectives.
Wendel Trio is Director for Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, Europe’s largest coalition working to prevent dangerous climate change and promote sustainable climate and energy policy in Europe.