Today's energy discussion is mostly focused on the production of energy, overlooking the fact that the main economic, but also ecological potentials are clearly on the demand side.
Across the European Union there is an urgent need to increase energy efficiency and energy saving. This can be done across all sectors with existing technology.
The EU Green Paper on energy efficiency shows that already today negawatt-energy (what is saved through efficient appliances, buildings...) is the biggest energy resource in the EU. The energy efficiency potential is even greater in new Member States: they use around three times as much energy as old Members. Even by 2030, based on current policies, the difference in energy intensity is still expected to be around double. Therefore as a priority, investments in energy efficiency and energy saving measures must be made in new Member States.
Further funding into implementation mechanisms and the development of new technologies will both increase the economic and technical potential for energy efficiency and speed up its introduction.
Energy efficiency improvements have been recognised by the European Commission as the "priority of priorities". Despite this, the EU has proposed an unambitious target of only a 1% increase in energy efficiency per year between 2006-2012 (Directive on End Use Efficiency and Energy Services). This will clearly fail to counter the increase in demand predicted by the IEA and will fail to seriously address climate change and security of supply concerns.
Energy efficiency is essential for the EU:
- To meet its climate and environmental commitments
- To improve economic competitiveness
- To reduce dependency on imported energy
While many energy efficiency improvements can be made using existing technologies further improvements can only come about through additional research and development projects. This must be reflected appropriately in the 7th Framework Programme.To Save Energy, the Greens fight for a decrease of the overall EU primary energy consumption by at least 1% per year.
Energy Efficiency Watch paper (pdf)