This has been an important year for energy policy in general, but energy efficiency in particular. Hans Nilsson, expert through his company FourFact, Advisor and Honorary Chairman of the IEA DSM-Programme and a friend of EiD, has written a thought provoking column on the eceee website. While the European Commission has been promoting the need to re-assess all energy policy to meet the challenges of the future, energy efficiency seems to be treated (again) in a far too dismissive manner. Maybe we can’t leave the rethinking to the Commission and we have to raise our voices all the more. What do you think?
After the launch of The Energy Union we were a bit puzzled whether the Commission really stood behind the statement that Energy Efficiency is to be considered to be the First Fuel. It said so in the press release accompanying the launch, but it was more vague in the actual text.
So in February this year, we were pleased to see the text in the “Energy Union Package” in the communication from the Commission to the European Parliament. Here, at last, we found an explanation that reads:
’‘It is necessary to fundamentally rethink energy efficiency and treat it as an energy source in its own right, representing the value of energy saved. As part of the market design review, the Commission will ensure that energy efficiency and demand side response can compete on equal terms with generation capacity.’‘
This sounds reassuring, doesn’t it? The Commission is in a process to establish how energy efficiency should be made the first fuel! But we can easily imagine that such “fundamental rethinking” does not jump out of a hat. It will require a change in policies, regulation, instruments, behaviour, and many other fundaments.
So it was with feverish interest and sweaty hands that we opened the next communication on the subject from the Commission in November. The title of the document is wittingly made “The state of the Energy Union”. Now we would get a first glimpse of what “fundamentally rethinking” means in reality. And this is what we found:
“There are still numerous barriers to reaping the full potential of energy efficiency, such as information failures and a shortage of dedicated financial tools. This leads to a limited uptake of energy efficiency opportunities, products and technologies.”
Is somebody joking?
Is the notion that there are information failures and shortage of financial tools fundamental news to anyone? What about energy efficiency obligations, least cost planning, stricter regulation, multiple benefits, split incentives, behavioural economics, “nudges”, energy services, circular economy and a hoist of other concepts that could be part of a FUNDAMENTAL RETHINKING?
Are they joking? Or is it worse?
We must ask the Commission to rethink this fundamentally!