Forum hears of flaws in European Commission’s energy efficiency policy

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Europe’s cogeneration lobby delivered input at the European Commission heating and cooling consultation forum in Brussels this week and were keen to point out the lack of recognition given to energy efficiency in policy documentation.

Participating organisations from 17 member states and 73 European trade bodies or NGOs were present at the discussions, which will feed into final recommendations and policy at the end of the year.
Arnaud Duvielguerbigny
EU action in the field of energy efficiency is guided by the ‘Energy Efficiency first’ principle first mentioned by the European Commission at the High-Level Conference on Heating and Cooling in February. Arnaud Duvielguerbigny (COGEN Europe Head of Policy) said it was high time for the Commission to move beyond this buzz word and take concrete steps to support energy efficiency in Europe.

“The potential of energy efficiency policies does not get enough recognition in the issue papers. In particular its contribution to putting Europe’s economy back on track, via competitively priced energy, job creation, knowledge and stronger exports,” Duvielguerbigny said adding, “The Commission should expand its assessment of the heating & cooling sector by looking at the whole energy system … à no silo approach on heating or cooling. – we should bring in energy services like energy power, energy for processes and even to the extent possible mobility.”

In a note to COSPP online, COGEN Europe also said the information carried in Issue Paper IV is good, but more data on the power sector should be provided.

“It is striking to see that there is virtually nothing on the current power mix: its efficiency and carbon footprint. Before variable RES electricity becomes the dominant electricity source in the electricity market (2050), we should investigate how to dramatically minimise the heat currently wasted in European power plants.”

During the session Duvielguerbigny pointed out that several organisations mentioned heat storage and demand side management.

“It is worth reminding everybody that heat demand variability – over the course of the year but also during the day – is far greater than electricity demand fluctuations. We firmly believe the time window is now to give heat demand side management more visibility.”

The COGEN Europe chief also took aim at failure to sufficiently highlight the cogeneration principle within the issue paper. He said that while in several instances the positive role of cogeneration is highlighted, each time it is subordinate to a technology or a fuel.

For clarification and completeness purposes, Duvielguerbigny proposed granting the cogeneration principle an “enabling technology” section/status in Issue Paper III. The rationale behind that proposition is that the CHP principle can be applied from 100 MW down to 1 kw electrical capacity machines; serving district heating networks but also tertiary buildings, hospitals, SMEs and also homes.

He went on to mention the problem of cogeneration being seen as based on using fossil fuels, when the share of renewable fuels is growing strongly; and the cogeneration principle is not just linked to combustion-based techniques, with fuel cell or concentrated solar power also used.

“In order to support the transition to a low-carbon economy by 2050, more substance must be added around the 2030 milestone. A greater focus on 2030 will lead to highlighting short & medium-term solutions, and in turn call for more information on how to remove market or legislative barriers.”

One of the barriers he identified was the failings of state aid guidelines which he said were ‘not fit for purpose when it comes to allowing support for low-carbon heat.

He concluded by requesting for more information to be provided in the case of Industrial CHP, what he referred to as a must-run process using medium-high temperature and called for greater definition of waste heat’s role and how the true benefits of this low-carbon heat could be investigated.

The Commission will issue the heating and cooling strategy in the form of a Communication by the end of the year. The suggestions/recommendations in this communication will be addressed to the European Council and the European Parliament – who will then decide whether to take a position during 2016.

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