EU adopts Energy Efficiency Directive

A new EU energy efficiency directive has recently been approved which will see the introduction of mandatory energy-saving measures together with energy saving schemes for utilities, large firm energy audits and renovation of public buildings. The Directive was adopted with 632 votes in favour, with 25 against and only 19 abstaining from vote.

It is anticipated that the Directive will result in the reduction of energy usage by €50 billion each year in the EU. Claude Turmes, Rapporteur said:

This essential legislation is not only crucial for achieving our energy security and climate goals; it will also give a real boost to the economy and create jobs. Crucially, it will reduce the sizeable and growing cost of our dependence on energy imports - €488 billion in 2011 or 3.9% of GDP - which is particularly stark in crisis-hit countries".

In particular the Directive addresses the following:

1. Renovation of public buildings. Member States will be required to renovate 3% of the total floor area of heated and/or cooled buildings which are either owned or occupied by their Government.

2. Energy audits. All large businesses will be subject to a regular energy audit. The first will commence within 3 years of the implementation of the Directive and will then be carried out on a four-yearly basis by a qualified and accredited professional.

3. Saving schemes for utilities. Energy companies will be required to carry out a “cumulative end-use energy savings target” by 2020. The target will be equivalent to the new savings made each year from 2014-2020 of 1.5% of annual energy sales which will be averaged out over a three-year period.

The Directive will come into force 20 days after it has been published in the EU’s Official Journal after which time Member States will have 18 months to implement it in their legal systems.

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