First reflections

eid2o-02The bi-annual eceee Summer Study is now over.  Participants have gone home or have taken an extended holiday in the south of France.  Most are quite tired from the myriad of panel session presentations, informal sessions, solutions workshops, plenary sessions and chats during the coffee breaks.  But it is a good tiredness.  The organisation and venue were excellent. There was record attendance with more than 450 from Europe and abroad. The weather co-operated to the delight of those who wanted to shake off the scars of a tough European winter and spring.

It is remarkable to think that eceee has been organising these for 20 years.  The summer study has grown from strength to strength.

So, where are we? 

Well, there is definitely a thriving and growing energy efficiency community and it is sorely needed.  It has to be more motivated after this week, confident that there is a growing body of intellectual support for their efforts back home.

The peer-reviewed papers delivered covered all end-use sectors except for industry that now has its own summer study on alternate years.  And the policies, programmes and analysis were examined in many ways including through the lens of monitoring and evaluation, long-term and short-term approaches, behaviour analysis, modelling and much more.

There was some concern raised that much of the analysis presented needed to go through another filter to help policymakers.  Yes, some of the papers were very academic and necessarily so, but not all were. Yet, they all had an intellectual rigour regardless who they were pitched to.  But, some of that concern can be addressed through communicating some of the major themes – and stories – to different audiences to get the messages better understood and accepted.

Yet, many of the informal sessions brought that link to policy development.  I was particularly interested in how the Pas de Calais region is working on Jeremy Rifkin’s concept of a third industrial revolution.  I was also pleased at the session on whether there should be binding targets for energy efficiency in Europe for 2030. And if so, what should they be based on: energy consumption? Energy savings? Energy efficiency?  That same session also reflected on the European Commission’s President, Mr. Barroso’s statement to the European Parliament last week when he said that the US has its shale gas revolution but Europe has its energy efficiency revolution.  Has the revolution now started at the summer study?  Hmmmm.

There were some worrying trends when we see the latest figures and impact assessment in the UK showing quite disappoint results.  One hopes this is isolated but member states are pre-occupied with the current financial crisis.  There were many discussions, however, on the role more ambitious activity in energy efficiency can actually be part of the solution.  Politicians have been reluctant to understand that.

One expression especially interested me:  ad hocery and political amnesia.  This came from Jan Rosenow, in describing the lack of learning from past experience as the UK developed its current package of measures to improve the energy performance of buildings.

There were many good expressions and catch phrases this week and we need more as we grapple with turning the messages into forms that can be understood and embraced by policymakers.

No doubt you will hear more stories from colleagues who attended.  They all have much to tell.  And we have to thank all at eceee for the effort that was made to make this so successful.  We cannot let the afterglow from this summer study lose its shine.

Over upcoming weeks, EiD will do its best to present some of the golden nuggets from the Summer Study.  You can certainly send in yours.

4 thoughts on “First reflections

  1. Good summary. Your natural modesty obviously prevents you from mentioning that one important reason why the session – considering whether the EU should adopt solely a climate charge target for 2030, or adopt in addition one relating to energy efficiency performance – was as interesting as you conclude might just have stemmed from your own role as session moderator!

    It was very revealing that of all the many experts present, not one concluded that it was sensible for Europe to adopt just a climate change target without a complimentary energy saving target. I hope those in the various European institutions undertaking the negotiations take note!

    • I’m not sure it was natural modesty. I wanted the entire post to be relatively short and not go into depth in any of the issues, hoping people like you would fill in the gaps and their own views. You are so right about how revealing it was about the climate change target. Well, we had one who said, if there was to be only one target, it should be an energy efficiency target, but that was just a reaction to mood of the audience. One thing is that we have to keep hammering away about the need for a complimentary energy saving target. It is not going to be easy, but we have to try.

  2. I’ve heard in one informal session around benefits besides energy efficiency from energy efficient practices such a huge myriad of “side” benefits (optimization, costs reductions in several areas discovered because of chasing energy use reduction and mainly, health improvements) that maybe we should also stress and ask for those other factors as goals to meet. It could add some trustiness to the message, so we don’t sound as construction companies asking to fix the world problems constructing more houses.
    Thanks for your nice summary.

    • Thanks for this. Glad you heard about one of the informal sessions. I think there was a record number of informal sessions and I can only hope that others will provide some more information about them. The co-benefits are fundamental. Improved energy efficiency has such an important role to play in many areas. We need a “progressive” construction industry. While there is a need for more housing in most countries, we need those new houses to have a much more sustainable approach.

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