Understanding energy efficiency - European Parliament briefing

Gregor Erbach
Policies and Targets
Economics and Financing
Urban Areas
Transport and Mobility
Energy Generation and Distribution

The European Commission considers energy efficiency as a strategic priority for the Energy Union, and promotes 'energy efficiency first' as a principle. It proposes to rethink energy efficiency fundamentally, and treat it as an energy source in its own right. By using energy more efficiently, energy demand can be reduced, leading to lower energy bills for consumers, lower emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants, reduced need for energy infrastructure, and increased energy security through a reduction of imports. Worldwide, energy efficiency has contributed to substantial savings in energy consumption.

The implementation of energy efficiency policies is challenging, and the full potential of energy efficiency is far from realised, for financial, behavioural and regulatory reasons. Obstacles include high upfront investment costs, access to finance, lack of information, split incentives and rebound effects.

The EU has set energy efficiency targets and a set of regulations to promote energy efficiency across the economy. As part of the Energy Union strategy, the European Commission plans to propose specific strategies for heating and cooling, and for the transport sector. Key pieces of energy efficiency legislation are to be reviewed in the coming two years, and implementation of the existing framework enforced. Finance for energy efficiency will be given special attention.

The European Parliament has repeatedly called for stronger EU energy efficiency targets and policies, and is current preparing own-initiative reports on the Energy Efficiency Directive and the Energy Union strategy.

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