The European Commission publishes its new heat and cooling strategy communication

On February 16th, the Commission published its new strategy for heat and cooling in its series of initiatives as part of the Energy Union. This is a most welcome communication. The press release is provided below.

In reading the strategy, EiD was a bit puzzled by a few of the elements. Page 4 provided a statement that seems to almost undermine the need for quite complex, deep renovations. The communication stated:

Buildings frequently lose heat or cold due to poor quality. Two thirds of the EU’s buildings were built when energy efficiency requirements were limited or non-existent; most of these will still be standing in 2050. Big savings can be made through simple renovations such as insulating the attic, walls and foundations, and installing double or triple glazing. These are cheapest when they are done as part of other building works.

Look at what is put in bold. These are hardly simple renovations and the Communication treats addressing the envelope with an odd casualness. If this is simple, then we certainly look forward to the Commission’s recommendation for a renovation strategy for Europe.

On pages 11 and 12, it states:

The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) lays down a framework for improving the energy performance of Europe’s building stock. The uptake of energy performance requirements will gradually reduce energy demand and increase supply from renewable sources. However, the rate of building renovation is low (0.4 to 1.2% per year).

However, the Communication gives no indication how to increase the rate of building renovation or how to increase the level of ambition. The Communication goes on:

As part of the review of the EPBD (including REFIT component) in 2016, the Commission will look into strengthening the reliability of energy performance certificates and reinforcing their signals for renewable energy.

The Commission will examine:

– Developing a toolbox of measures to facilitate renovation in multi-apartment buildings;

– Promoting proven energy efficiency models for publicly owned educational buildings and hospitals;

– Using inspections of boilers to provide information on the efficiency of existing heating and cooling systems;

– Facilitating the market uptake of voluntary certification schemes for non-residential buildings.

These are fine and EiD hopes there will be more on the renovation rate and the level of ambition. Concerning inspection of boilers, EiD also hopes that the inspection will include whether the boilers are properly sized once the renovation has taken place. As the Communication states, it should be simple.

What are your views?


Commission launches plans to curb energy use in heating and cooling

The European Commission has published its first ever plan to tackle the massive amount of energy used to heat and cool Europe’s buildings, including households, offices, hospitals, schools, industry and food refrigeration throughout the supply chain.

Heating and cooling accounts for half of the EU’s annual overall energy consumption and 68% of all its gas imports. Meanwhile, renewables only account for 18% of energy in the sector and a large amount of energy is wasted by industry. Taking action to curb energy use and boost renewables in the sector would reduce energy costs, help cut our dependence on imported fossil fuels and slash harmful carbon emissions.

The Heating and Cooling Strategy includes plans to make energy efficient renovations to buildings easier, to develop energy efficiency guidelines for public schools and hospitals and improve the reliability of energy performance certificates for buildings.

The Strategy also aims to better integrate the electricity system with district heating and cooling systems. District heating and cooling networks can use and store electricity powered by renewables and then distribute it to buildings and industrial sites, boosting the level of renewable heating and cooling.

Meanwhile, the Strategy envisages raising the level of renewable energy used for heating and cooling through measures that will be announced in the upcoming reviews of both the renewable energy directive and the energy performance of buildings directive.

Another arm of the strategy is to slash energy waste in industry – enough heat is leaked into the air and water by industry to meet the EU’s entire heating demand in residential and service sector buildings. One way of tackling this problem is by linking industry with district heating systems – a practice already in place in Gothenburg where 90% of apartment blocks are heated with waste heat from nearby industrial plants and waste incinerators.

The Strategy also plans to boost consumer power. Owners, tenants, building managers and public authorities will see more information on how to renovate buildings and loop in more renewable power, and the potential benefits of doing so. Meanwhile, consumer control will increase with better metering and billing, and better technology for controlling energy use.

More information on the Communication and related documents are available on the DG Energy website.

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