“Efficiency First” (E1st) is the fundamental principle around which the development of the EU’s energy system should be designed. It means considering the potential for efficiency (including energy savings and demand response) in all decision-making related to energy, and prioritising efficiency improvements when they are more cost-effective or valuable than power generation, grids and pipelines and fuel supplies.
Applying this logic to all energy policy decisions can strengthen Europe’s economic recovery, lower fuel imports, build competitiveness, create jobs, improve air quality and bring down the costs of the transition to a low-carbon energy system.
The 2015 Paris Agreement will require the EU to rethink and recommit to a decarbonised energy system by 2050. Energy efficiency is crucial to meeting this goal and yet faces systematic and structural hurdles.
Realising E1st within the EU policy and legal framework will require the EU to make an appropriately high-level commitment to it, such that this central organising principle is properly integrated into models and impact assessments and is used to strengthen those laws that already target it. The principle must also be integrated into all other Energy Union policies and instruments, including funding decisions and infrastructure planning.
This memo sets out ten key actions that need to be taken by the European Commission in the near-term to put the EU on course to fully incorporate the E1st principle into energy policy and law – and thereby ensure the Energy Union operates to “Plan, Finance and Deliver” E1st. The measurement and regulation of building energy performance are addressed as key components in the decision-making of improving energy efficiency.
The memo should be read in conjunction with the brochure “Efficiency First: A new paradigm for the European energy system – driving competitiveness, energy security and decarbonisation through increased energy productivity”.