Member Policy Update
Consultation on the Standardised European Energy Efficiency Mortgage
On 12 February, the EU-funded Energy Efficient Mortgage Action Plan (‘EeMAP’) project launched a public consultation on a proposal for a standardised European approach to energy efficient mortgages. Their proposal is now open until 12 March for public consultation before the launch of a pilot project in June 2018.
EeMAP aims to create an energy efficient mortgage through which homebuyers are incentivised to improve the energy efficiency of their building or acquire an already energy efficient property through favourable conditions linked to the mortgage.
Alongside this consultation, European Green Building Councils have produced a series of national market briefings setting out the building energy performance landscape in 10 key European markets. Their aim is to aid banks and energy efficiency experts looking to launch national pilots under the new scheme.
The work was further complemented by a new study from EeMAP consortium partner E.ON, showing the results of European consumer insight research on energy efficiency mortgages.
This study found that energy efficiency mortgages have a high level of appeal, particularly in Italy and the UK.
Members of European Parliament Move Towards Energy Market Reform
On 21 February, Members of European Parliament (MEPs) in the Industry, Research and Energy Committee voted in favour of significant reforms to the European electricity market.
In the vote, MEPs agreed to phase out regulated prices for electricity and subsidies for power production. This will mean capacity mechanisms – national subsidies to keep power plants on standby – can only be allowed as a ‘last resort’ and would be heavily regulated.
MEPs also supported maintaining “priority dispatch”, a rule that means energy from small-scale renewables must be taken up by the grid before energy from other sources such as coal and nuclear.
Trilogue negotiations between the Council, Commission and European Parliament are expected to start at the end of March. There will be tense negotiations as MEPs try to convince both the Commission and Council of their ambitious position.
Europe Consults on the Drinking Water Directive
On 1 February, the European Commission introduced the revised drinking water directive aimed at improving the quality of drinking water in Europe. The proposal is a direct reply to the European Citizens’ Initiative ‘Right2Water’ and subsequent consultation.
The proposed directive contains an obligation for Member States to improve access to and promote the use of drinking water. This will be achieved by introducing measures to encourage the use of tap water in public buildings and restaurants and by ensuring that equipment to freely access tap water is available in most cities.
Citizens and stakeholders can share their views on the Commission’s proposal via the Have Your Say website until 29 March 2018. The European Parliament and EU Council will then negotiate the proposal.
Parliament Endorses Carbon Market Reform
On 6 February, The EU’s legislative body adopted a deal to strengthen the bloc’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) in the post-2020 period. The compromise package was approved by a large majority of lawmakers, with 535 votes to 104, and 39 abstentions. Member States will now have a final vote on the reform deal, though this is largely seen as a formality.
Under the current system, an oversupply of allowances means that the price of carbon is too low. The deal aims to strike a balance between the need for an ambitious carbon policy while maintaining the competitiveness of energy intensive industries.
The reform will double the rate at which the scheme’s Market Stability Reserve (MSR) soaks up excess allowances – a short-term measure to increase prices. In 2023, a new mechanism to limit the validity of allowances in the MSR will be put in place. The overall cap on the total volume of emissions, known as the ‘linear reduction factor’, will be reduced annually by 2.2%.
Since the provisional agreement was reached in November, EU carbon permits have gone up 15% to trade at around €8.90 per tonne. However, this is still too low to effectively facilitate low carbon investments.
Support for Higher Renewables Targets Grows
On 19 February, a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), stated that Europe could pursue a more ambitious renewable energy target for 2030 and still keep costs affordable.
The key findings from the report include:
- The EU could double the renewable share in its energy mix, cost-effectively, from 17% in 2015 to 34% in 2030.
- Renewables are vital for long-term decarbonisation of the EU energy system.
- The European electricity sector can accommodate large shares of solar PV and wind power generation.
- Heating and cooling solutions account for more than one-third of the EU’s untapped renewable energy potential.
- Biomass will remain a key renewable energy source in 2030 and beyond.
The report comes at a crucial time as trilogue discussions regarding the Renewable Energy Directive are due to commence between the Commission, Council and Parliament.
Currently, both the Commission and Council support a 27% target for 2030 which was originally agreed in 2014 – a target IRENA believe can be increased as the energy market has changed since 2014. In contrast, Parliament is taking a much more ambitious approach by proposing a non-binding 35% target.
Public Consultation on EU Rules for Products Used in the Construction of Buildings and Infrastructure
On 22nd January, the European Commission published its public consultation on EU rules for products used in the construction of buildings and infrastructure works.
The Construction Products Regulation (the CPR) aims to make the single market work for products used in the construction of buildings and infrastructure. To achieve this, the CPR provides rules on assessing the performance of construction products and on communicating results, through a common technical language to be across the EU.
However, several sources, including the 2016 report on the implementation of the CPR, opinions from the REFIT platform and studies on European construction sector regulations have identified issues regarding the functioning of the CPR. Therefore, the Commission is currently carrying out a joint evaluation and impact assessment for a possible EU initiative to revise EU rules on construction products.
The consultation period is open until 16 April 2018.
Consumption in the EU Above the Energy Efficiency Target
A new report from Eurostat has found that the EU exceeded its energy efficiency target by 4% in 2016, equating to consumption of 1,543 Mtoe. If the EU is to meet EU 2020 energy efficiency targets, primary energy consumption must not exceed 1,483 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) in 2020.
Since 1990, the first year in which data is available, consumption has fallen by 1.7%. The distance to the 20% target for the primary energy consumption reached a record low in 2014 (25.6 Mtoe or 1.7 %).
The report found that while 19 Member States increased their energy consumption between 1996 and 2006, growth in energy consumption was recorded in only two Member States between 2006 and 2016.
Among the 26 Member States where energy consumption decreased, Greece (-23.6%), Malta (- 22.5%) and Romania (-20.2%) recorded decreases of more than 20%.
A coalition agreement between the German Conservatives and the Social Democrats shows a relatively ambitious energy policy for Germany.
The ‘coalition contract’ presented by the German Conservative (CDU / CSU) and Social Democrat (SPD) states that Germany must respect the goals set out by Europe for 2020, 2030 and 2050 and will have to be carbon neutral “no later than by the second half of the century.”
The parliament will also vote on a law project next year so that all sectoral objectives are reached by 2030. Further information can be found here.
Switzerland – Launch of Energy Strategy 2050
The first package of Switzerland’s Energy Strategy 2050 laws took effect on 1 January 2018, after Swiss voters approved the government’s proposals in 2017.The first set of measures in Energy Strategy 2050 aims to increase energy efficiency and promote the development of renewable energies.
To tackle emissions from buildings, the federal government has introduced the ‘Building Programme’ which aims to reduce energy consumption in the building by subsidising the cost of the energy-saving renovation of buildings. This programme will be partially financed by money from the CO2 levy for the building programme.
London Mayor Introduces ‘Energy for Londoners’ Programme
In the UK, the Mayor of London has launched a £34 million Energy for Londoners programme which aims to make homes and workplaces more energy efficient and support local renewable energy projects.
A range of initiatives has been announced under the programme, including funding to improve the properties of fuel poor households, the piloting of ‘Energy Leap’ near zero energy retrofits, and a boiler scrappage scheme for small businesses.
Italy Integrates BIM into Public Buildings
On 28 January, the Italian Ministry of Infrastructure and Transportation enacted a law that defines the way and timing of progressive integration of BIM in public tenders for complex works.
The use of BIM will be compulsory for tenders above 100 million Euro from 1st January 2019. It will be progressively extended to all type of tenders up to 2025 when tenders below 1 million Euro will require the use of BIM.
The Ministry hopes that this rule will increase the threshold of quality in projects and works and generate benefits for public resources and real estate, optimizing operators’ tasks and consequently increasing their profitability.