The National Energy Efficiency Action Plans (NEEAP), submitted by member states in 2007 in response to an EU directive on energy efficiency (ESD; see EurActiv LinksDossier), initiated a mutual learning process. But full implementation of all announced initiatives is "key for the success of national policies," argues the 'Energy Efficiency Watch' project.
The body, set up by MEPs to promote concrete measures for energy efficiency, identified lack of knowledge as a major obstacle to tapping into energy-saving potential. It argues that efficiency is rising up the political agenda in many EU countries due to common legislation, but its full potential (saving half of current consumption) can only be realised if member states provide their households, companies and authorities with specific information.
Evaluating the NEEAPs, Energy Efficiency Watch refers to good practices in several countries which have now started information and networking campaigns. One illustration of this is the Irish 'Power of One' campaign, which organised a media presentation of an energy-saving challenge faced by eight families from different geographical and social backgrounds.
Furthermore, energy audits providing the data necessary to prompt investors to make energy-saving investments are considered crucial, particularly combined with financial incentives. In Belgium and France, for example, companies are offered tax rebates for investing in energy efficiency, the report states.
The public sector should step up as a role model, as it has done in the UK and the Netherlands, for example, where the central governments are aiming to use zero-carbon buildings by 2012, it continues.
Acknowledging that the Energy Efficiency Directive is simply one element of the EU's drive towards 20% savings, Energy Efficiency Watch calls for a more prominent role for measures in sectors such as transport and construction. The EU is currently in the process of setting efficiency standards for energy-using appliances (see EurActiv's LinksDossier) and reviewing its Energy Performance for Buildings Directive, which aims to save 5–6% of energy in the EU in 2020 (EurActiv 14/11/08).
"We are convinced that the results of the EEW will contribute significantly to raising awareness of energy efficiency, enhancing a mutual learning process among EU member states and helping Europe to reach its 2020 targets (20% energy saved, 20% energy from renewable energy, 20% greenhouse gas reduction), which were affirmed by the European heads of state and governments at the March 2007 summit," according to MEPs Mechtild Rothe, Claude Turmes and Fiona Hall, members of a forum promoting the use of renewables (EUFORES).