Why we can accept much more ambition in the EU energy saving strategy

Having introduced the report in a post last week, EiD is pleased to see a recent article by the report’s author, Yamina Saheb, on the EurActiv website. Yamina shows that there will be no negative impact on EU competitiveness. Importantly, this conclusion is buried within the European Commission’s own modelling results. For those with any interest in the approval of the clean energy package, this is a must read.


The evidence behind a 40% energy efficiency target

The Commission’s November 2016 clean energy package is going through a gruelling approval process where practically every comma is being challenged. Yet, this approval process is ignoring (or unaware of) some important evidence.

The Commission’s “impact assessment” related to the proposed changes to the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) includes five scenarios with efficiency ambition going from 27% (EUCO27) to 40% (EUCO+40) energy savings. The impact of the Commission’s scenarios on EU competitiveness has been estimated in terms of their impact on 1) EU industry, especially the energy intensive ones, 2) international fuel prices and, iii) balance of trade.

Contrary to common belief, ambitious energy savings scenarios are not expected to adversely impact the competitiveness of EU industry. In fact, energy-intensive industries are not targeted by efficiency measures as they are already regulated under the EU emissions trading scheme (EU-ETS).

There are, therefore, no direct energy efficiency investments to be made by these industries to meet the efficiency target as a result of the EED. At the same time, these industries will benefit from the impact of efficiency scenarios in the following ways:

  • ETS prices which should be lower when the energy savings target is higher, will lead to lower auction payments by energy-intensive industries;
  • Electricity prices, which decrease slightly when the energy savings target is higher, will lead to lower energy purchases costs for end-use sectors.
  • International fuel prices, which decrease slightly when the energy savings target is higher, will contribute to lower energy purchases costs.

As shown in OpenExp’s report, the only expected increase in expenditures for energy intensive industries relates to capital costs. These costs may include the replacement of energy using products by efficient ones but without being driven by efficiency improvements. Furthermore, the expected increase of capital costs would be largely offset by the decrease of auction payments and energy purchases costs as shown by the Commission’s modelling results (see table). As compared to EUCO27 (which is the scenario with the agreed 27% energy efficiency target back in 2014), total energy costs decrease in all other scenarios and energy intensity of industry improves (see table).

Similarly, the impact of the Commission’s scenarios on international fossil fuel prices is expected to be positive for energy importing countries. The more stringent the energy savings target, the more significant would be the reduced international fuel prices. For what regard international coal prices, they are projected to decrease only in the scenario aiming at 40% energy savings target.

The combined effect of the reduction of energy consumption and international fuel prices will have a positive impact on the EU trade balance. On one hand, total EU imports will increase as the expected reduction of fossil fuels imports should be largely offset by the increased imports of energy efficient equipment, products and other goods. On the other hand, total EU exports will also increase as the expected low energy costs should improve the competitiveness of sectors supplying the market with energy efficient products e.g. engineering). All of this importantly leads to an increase of the competitiveness of the EU industry and this is so needed in our globalised economy.

Will industry leaders raise their voice and seize the efficiency opportunity to improve the EU competitiveness?

Wait and see!

One thought on “Why we can accept much more ambition in the EU energy saving strategy

  1. All of which suggests that undertaking such impact assessments is regarded by far too many parts of the Commission services as a meaningless exercise, irrelevant to Realpolitik.

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