Germany, Britain and the Netherlands appear to be including energy conservation measures already taken by them to meet targets under the EU’s Energy Efficiency Directive (EED), according to sources in the co-generation industry.
The directive allows member states leeway in their choice of measures to reduce their energy consumption levels.
But states such as the UK have already attempted to have efficiency measures taken before and after the legislation’s nominal 2014-2020 period counted towards its required annual 1.5% energy-savings obligation.
A fear exists that this practice could spread to other areas of the directive.
“The temptation for member states will be to include measures already taken as contributing to the total savings,” said Fiona Riddoch, director of COGEN Europe, the cogeneration industry association.
“This kind of minimalist approach is particularly attractive at times of economic slowdown,” Riddoch said.
“It has been reported to us informally that UK, Germany or the Netherlands for instance have started to tick the EED provisions’ boxes according to that approach,” she added.
The suggestion that Germany could be early-counting its efficiency savings will raise eyebrows in London, as Berlin sent a complaint to Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger about the UK’s similar interpretation of the EED’s energy-savings obligation.
By the end of this month, EU states must provide the European Commission with indicative national energy efficiency action plans to meet the bloc’s 2020 target of reducing energy consumption by 20% on 2005 levels, as measured against projected increases.
No penalties are attached to failing to meet the target, but the plans will help the Commission to work out whether it is on track to meet it. And that could feed back into the debate on whether a binding energy savings goal is needed for 2030.
A key issue for the cogeneration industry – which channels the high temperatures created from power generation into heating rather than wasted emissions – is that member states use the directive’s primary energy metric in reaching their efficiency goals.
Riddoch points out that member states have themselves identified combined heat and power (CHP) savings of over 100 gigawatts of energy, equal to the emissions of more than 35 million tonnes of oil.
Measures in the EED could potentially achieve half of this, but only if member states found sufficient scope to create the right policy environment, according to Riddoch.
This is because the European Commission, while strongly supporting cogeneration, is not yet managing to generate effective policy in its support.
“The EED takes the same approach as the original CHP Directive of assuming that if member states are asked to study the question hard enough, they will pursue supportive policy,” she said. “The evidence is that they won't.”
However, she stopped short of supporting a new regulatory approach to the problem, instead proposing that “some kind of penetration rate against the technical and economic potential for CHP may work well.”
The EU’s 2004 CHP Directive already obliges member states to produce reports outlining the character of CHP in their countries, their efforts to promote it, and remove barriers to its spread.
In November 2000, a Commission Green Paper argued that savings from increasing the EU's share of cogeneration from 11% to 18%, could amount to 3-4% of total gross consumption in the bloc.