Europe outlines plan to cut energy waste

The EU has proposed tighter energy efficiency standards for buildings, vehicles and energy generation as part of its Energy Efficiency Action Plan, published this week.

Europe wastes 20% of the energy is consumes, the Commission said, adding that the cost of energy being poured down the drain will add up 100bn euro by 2020.

In the long-awaited energy efficiency action plan the EC advances a series of measures such as tax breaks for producers of energy-efficient products, hoping to reduce the EU’s energy use by 20% by the year 2020.

Proposed measures are mostly persuasive rather than coercive, and include new energy performance standards for appliances such as heaters and electronic equipment, energy standards for buildings to extend beyond large developments and efficiency requirements for power generators.

But the Commission has also promised to bring in legislation if carmakers do not improve energy efficiency voluntarily, something they had undertaken to do but have so far failed to make progress on.

The encouragement of energy efficiency could also be integrated into tax rules, with proposals due to be published in 2007.

Energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs said: “Europeans need to save energy. Europe wastes at least 20% of the energy it uses. By saving energy, Europe will help address climate change, as well as its rising consumption, and its dependence on fossil fuels imported from outside the Union’s borders.

“Energy efficiency is crucial for Europe: If we take action now, the direct cost of our energy consumption could be reduced by more than ¬100 billion annually by 2020; around 780 millions tonnes of CO2 will also be avoided yearly,” he said.

Europe’s home appliance manufacturers welcomed the proposals, especially with regard to tax credits for producers of the most energy efficient appliances.

The manufacturers’ association, CECED, also said that “almost 200 million energy inefficient appliances older than 10 years, and therefore obsolete, are still in use in European kitchens.” The association saw a potential saving of 44TWh each year in their replacement- and plenty of opportunities for growth for the home appliance industry.

The action Energy Efficiency Action Plan can be accessed here.

Goska Romanowicz

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