In February 2015 the principle of ‘Efficiency First’ (E1st) was formally endorsed by the European Commission within the framework of the Energy Union. Based on the input of experts from the Regulatory Assistance Project, E3G, ClientEarth, eceee, the Smart Energy Demand Coalition, CAN Europe, Friends of the Earth Europe, OpenExp and the European Climate Foundation, the briefing Efficiency First: A New Paradigm for the European Energy System – Driving Competitiveness, Energy Security and Decarbonisation through increased Energy Productivity sets out how the principle can help the Energy Union to deliver on these three goals, and the changes needed to the governance framework to make it work in practice.
This briefing paper explains what “Efficiency First” is and why it should underpin the Energy Union. In a nutshell, it comes down to prioritising investments in energy efficiency – whether end-use savings or demand response – whenever they would cost less or deliver more than investing in supply or networks. 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 society.