The report, Saving Energy, says that the EU will save a further €200 billion annually, if it meets a voluntary 2020 target of using 20% less energy than projected in 2005.
This is roughly equivalent to the annual gross domestic product of Denmark, but the bloc is on track only for 17% energy savings by 2020, according to data in an EU orientation briefing paper, seen by EurActiv.
“Governments are failing to embrace energy savings despite the benefits of cheaper bills and new jobs and it being the most effective action we can take to cut emissions and fight climate change,” Brook Riley, an energy efficiency specialist at Friends of the Earth Europe, told EurActiv in an emailed statement.
“The EU needs to urgently put energy savings at the top of its priorities and set binding targets for 2020 and 2030,” he added.
The report was produced by the Ecofys energy consultancy and commissioned by Friends of the Earth Europe and the Climate Action Network. It highlights three key benefits of energy efficiency: cost-reductions for industry and consumers, employment boosts, and breaking fossil fuel dependency.
Energy savings can reduce energy and electricity prices by reducing demand, so increasing the frequency with which cheaper fuels determine marginal costs, reducing variable and fixed costs, and avoiding infrastructure investments that are no longer needed.
A saving of just 6% on Europe’s natural gas consumption would obviate the need for the proposed Nabucco pipeline project, slated to bring gas from at a cost of €12-€15 billion, according to Ecofys.
At present, 80% of the EU’s primary energy consumption comes from fossil fuels, and most of this is imported.
“In a business-as-usual scenario energy consumption will increase by 12% from 2005 to 2020,” the report says. “Overall import dependency may reach 66% in 2020, compared to 53% in 2010.”