Energy 2020: The European Union signs up to energy efficiency

10 November last, the Directorate for Energy of the European Commission published a document describing the EU’s strategic orientationsbetween now and 2020. With ambitious goals, the No. 1 priority remains the 20% reduction in the energy bill of EU countries.

The adoption of the climate and energy package by the European Council in 2007 formalized a set of ambitious goals for 2020: a 20% increase in energy efficiency, a reduction of 20% of GHG emissions and achieving a ratio of 20% of renewables of total energy consumption in the EU (currently 8.5%), and achieving a 10% share of biofuels in total vehicle consumption. In 2008, theEuropean Commissionproposed a package of measures to member states laying down a framework for meeting these targets.

A new action plan for the energy sector

In November 2010, the European Commission’s Directorate General for Energy published a first review of its 2020 strategy: Despite the efforts made, the measures adopted so far will not allow the targets to be met. More broadly, the Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger pointed out that the energy market was not working properly, being insufficiently competitive and integrated within the European area. Security of supply, the free flow of energy, the integration of new technologies and supply agreements with countries neighboring the EU will be the goals pursued over the next ten years in a sector that will undoubtedly become increasingly strategic.

“The cost of failure would be too high”

Among these priorities, the first remains energy efficiency. The latest Action Plan for Energy Efficiency, running from 2007 to 2012 and recognized even by its authors to be insufficient, will be replaced by a new, more ambitious APEE in 2011. The transportation and construction sectors, source of energy savings, will be the main targets of European officials. Industry and the power distribution networks will also have to improve their energy efficiency. Finally, member states will be encouraged to set up national plans for energy efficiency with measurable quantitative targets.

Keeping to the goals of sustainable development and reducing Europe’s energy dependence are central issues in the coming years: as Günther Oettinger stated “The cost of failure would be too high” for the EU and its member countries not to achieve this.

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