A provisional deal on the proposed energy efficiency directive was struck by MEPs and Council negotiators on Thursday, after months of negotiations. The directive would require Member States to set themselves indicative national targets and save energy in specific ways, such as renovating buildings and stipulating the size of energy savings to be delivered by utilities.
Claude Turmes (Greens/EFA, LU), who led the negotiations, said "This deal will give a boost to Europe's economy and help achieve our energy security and climate goals. The new energy efficiency legislation sets out binding measures, which will go a significant way towards bridging the current gap the EU faces in meeting its pledge to reduce energy consumption 20% by 2020. The legislation includes a number of crucial measures that will deliver concrete energy savings".
EU and national targets
The directive lays down common measures in to ensure that the EU achieves its headline target of using 20% less energy by 2020. Each Member State would set its own target and present a national efficiency action plan every three years, in 2014, 2017 and 2020. The European Commission would have to assess, by June 2014, the progress achieved.
The directive would require Member States to renovate 3% of the total floor area of "heated and/or cooled buildings owned and occupied by their central government" (administrative departments whose responsibilities cover the entire territory of a Member State).
This would apply to buildings with a "total useful floor area" of more than 500 m², and as from July 2015, of more than 250 m². However, Member States would also be able to use alternative means to achieve equivalent energy savings, e.g. thorough renovation.
Energy efficiency schemes for utilities
Energy companies covered by the directive would have to achieve a "cumulative end-use energy savings target" by 2020. This target would have to be at least equivalent to achieving new savings, each year, from 2014 to 2020, of 1.5% of annual energy sales to final customers, by volume, and averaged over the most recent three-year period before the directive takes effect.
Sales of energy used in transport could be excluded and alternative ways to achieve equivalent energy savings would be permitted, provided that equivalence is maintained.
Furthermore, Member States would be entitled to exclude sales of energy used in certain industrial activities from energy consumption calculations, provided that the sum of these exemptions, and energy savings with a continuous effect resulting from individual actions already in place since December 2008, do not together amount to more than 25% of the total national energy saving target.
Parliament's negotiators ensured that the article on exemptions must be reviewed by the European Commission in 2016, with a view to rendering it more ambitious.
All large enterprises would be required to undergo an energy audit. These audits would need to start within three years of the directive's entry into force and should be carried out every four years by qualified and accredited experts.
Promoting efficiency in heating and cooling
Member States would need to carry out and notify to the Commission a "comprehensive assessment", by December 2015, of the scope for applying high-efficiency cogeneration and efficient district heating and cooling. For the purposes of this assessment, Member States would need to carry out a cost-benefit analysis - a proposal introduced by MEPs - covering their territory based on climate conditions, economic feasibility and technical suitability. Specific installations such as nuclear power plants could be exempted from these cost-benefit analyses.
MEPs also proposed establishing financing facilities for energy efficiency measures. Member States would need to facilitate the establishment of these facilities or the use of existing ones. One idea could be to draw up a national energy efficiency plan whereby central governments and utilities would contribute equal amounts towards the investments required for renovation or to meet the directive's requirements.
The provisionally agreed text, which still needs to be adopted today by the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) will be put to an Energy Committee vote, probably in July, and then a plenary one in September (provisional timetable).