The Times of Malta recently published an article by Joe Tanti arguing how important industry is to meeting the EU energy efficiency objectives for 2020. Importantly, Malta currently holds the rotating Presidency of the European Council. The current Energy Efficiency Directive has important measures for industry and hopefully they will be key for meeting 2020 goals. With the Commission’s new proposals for clean energy to play a key role in meeting our Paris global climate obligations, unfortunately there are no new measures for industry. Are the existing measures enough?
Industry critical to meeting EU energy efficiency targets
The European Parliament is pushing for an energy efficiency target of 40 per cent by 2030. The European Commission and Council are advocating for a more realistic 30 per cent. Both represent an increase over the 2020 target of 20 per cent. The decision on which figure will be adopted could be taken during Malta’s EU presidency.
It is critical to keep implementation in mind, since although several Member States have yet to reach the 2020 target of 20 per cent increase in energy efficiency, we are considering a more ambitious 30 per cent target. The halls of Brussels will not achieve this target – that will depend on the action taken by power distribution and generation companies, industry, and households, among other consumers.
A priority sector in achieving this goal will be industry. As a Member State, Malta is both investing heavily in the energy supply side by boosting efficiency in generation, and investing in the demand side by promoting users’ energy efficiency. It is evident that industry is fertile ground in the latter regard, both for 2020 and beyond.
The MBB, the Energy and Water Agency and the Malta Chamber collaborate to promote energy efficiency within industry. Through this collaboration, many non-SMEs signed an industry drafted voluntary agreement, committing to implement energy efficiency measures on an annual basis with the Energy and Water Agency, as the responsible government department.
Over 30 per cent of Malta’s non-SMEs have signed this agreement, having already adopted or planning to adopt measures representing a reduction of an estimated 8,500 tons of CO2 emissions annually. More businesses are expected to join the agreement over the coming years.
It is very significant that a third of the country’s largest businesses have voluntarily signed an agreement declaring measures to be taken to reduce their energy consumption. In fact, it highlights that not only is awareness of the importance of energy conservation present among the business sector, but so is motivation.
Industry has two important roles to play – to develop and make available improved energy technologies and to consume more efficiently
Through the launch of the new Investing in Energy project, these three partners are widening their efforts to include medium enterprises.
Industry’s interest is not just in reducing utility bills. The impacts of climate change, particularly through changes in weather and rainfall, are evident to an ever-growing number from an ever-wider segment of the population. The demand and use of energy are both causes, as well as effects, of climate change. The realisation that energy conservation, apart from making business sense, also contributes to this socio-environmental challenge, is present among the business sector.
Any solutions to energy conservation are found directly through industry – industry is the sector that develops, markets and maintains technology through which this conservation is possible. Industry is also a key global energy consumer. Therefore, it has two important roles to play – to develop and make available improved energy technologies and to consume more efficiently.
Business can be supported in achieving these goals. The more support it has, the more it can do in a shorter span of time. Support should focus on linking all the brilliant minds within the business sector to facilitate knowledge exchange and implementation of energy technologies and practices.
Such initiatives will not only result in businesses being able to take effective action and bring about change, but information coming out of such initiatives could also help inform policy measures aimed at mainstreaming innovation.
The latter is a key role for Malta, which will be negotiating the legislative building blocks for greater energy efficiency at an EU level during Malta’s EU presidency.