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26 businesses and NGOs call for effective implementation of the ‘Energy Efficiency First’ principle

A group of 26 businesses and NGOs sent an open letter to the EU negotiators revising the Energy Efficiency Directive, calling for effective implementation of the Energy Efficiency First principle in all of the EU, national and local policy, planning and investment projects regardless of the size of investments.

With the revision of the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED), the EU Institutions are due to agree on provisions that introduce in the regulatory framework the implementation of the Energy Efficiency First Principle.

This letter, co-signed by European business organisations, housing associations and NGOs, calls on the EED negotiators to agree on applying the principle without monetary thresholds that could rule out its application in many local projects having an impact on the energy system, therefore missing the potential energy efficiency can have for the economy, society and the climate. 

“Energy is a scarce and precious resource we ought to preserve as much as possible,” reads the letter. “Today’s unprecedented energy and climate crisis offer the momentum in the European Union for structural reforms and short-range measures setting energy efficiency at the cornerstone of all strategic security, policy and investment decisions, both for individual end-users and for the whole energy system.”

The signatories recalled that, in view of a net-zero 2050 future, Energy Efficiency First is about reducing energy demand, activating demand response and producing the required energy efficiently to optimally ensure that renewable generation capacity matches the reduced energy needs in a flexible, cost- and resource-efficient way. This requires that public and private actors must systematically assess and implement efficient solutions at the demand side in the planning, policy and investment decisions having an impact on the energy system.

“Yet, the current negotiations could miss this potential,” continues the letter. “The Council of the EU proposes to apply the principle only to major investment decisions with projects above 150 million euros and 250 million euros for transport infrastructure. This means that the energy efficiency first principle would not be applied to most energy projects at the local level that do not reach these thresholds. It is therefore key that the final agreement on the Energy Efficiency Directive does not include any thresholds for applying the principle.”

According to the document, this is the first step to avoiding investments in stranded assets and rethinking the way we produce, transmit and consume energy.

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