On the October 24th 2014, the EU approved its long awaited targets for emission cuts, energy savings and clean energy. The announcement has been met with significant criticism from the environmental lobby, for their less than ambitious targets, but those within the energy efficiency industry can see the big opportunities the new goals could bring.
The EU set initial objectives for 2020, dubbed the “20-20-20 targets”, which promise:
- A 20% reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels;
- Raising the share of EU energy consumption produced from renewable resources to 20%;
- A 20% improvement in the EU's energy efficiency.
As a precursor to the 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy where, the following, more ambitious targets have been approved:
- A binding EU target of at least 40% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared to 1990;
- A binding target of at least 27% of renewable energy used at EU level;
- An energy efficiency increase of at least 27%, to be reviewed by 2020 having in mind an EU level of 30% for 2030;
- The completion of the internal energy market by reaching an electricity interconnection target of 15% between Members States and pushing forward important infrastructure projects.
The key point for the smart building sector is the proposed 27%, potentially 30%, improvement in efficiency. The European Commission considers this absolutely crucial, following a review of the Energy Efficiency Directive, set out in June this year.
The proposed target develops on the achievements already reached in smart building across Europe. New buildings now use half the energy they did in the 1980s, while industrial buildings are about 19% less energy intensive than in 2001. The European Council endorsed an indicative target of 27% to be reviewed in 2020, suggesting there is still some concern over the potential for such savings.
However, those within the smart buildings sector would argue that energy efficient buildings are the best route to energy saving, especially for the sluggish EU economy. A recent report from engineering firm Arup showed that buildings consume 40% of worldwide energy, while 50% of their floor space is either temporarily or permanently unoccupied.
Similarly, in a questionnaire commissioned by software firm Asset Mapping, 80% of respondents admitted to struggling to understand and model their energy consuming assets. Suggesting that 23 working weeks per year are spent looking for asset information with the majority of respondents stuck in a cycle of reactive maintenance. The monitoring and measuring of consumption through smart building technology would address these huge inefficiencies, bringing about significant savings across the EU.
In 2015 the new European Commission, led by President Jean-Claude Juncker, will translate the new EU climate and energy targets into legislative proposals on renewable energy, energy efficiency and emissions trading.
Juncker promised to make Europe the world number one in renewables. He committed to forward-thinking climate change policies, and stated that Europe needs at least 30% energy savings in order to remain credible. While renewable energies hold an important role, there is a growing feeling that “efficiency” will be the key to achieving such targets.
Along with more efficient power generation and Smart Grids, streamlining transmission and distribution; smart buildings represent a huge opportunity for Europe to reduce their total energy consumption. Our report into The Market for BEMS and Enterprise Energy Management 2013 to 2017 certainly backs this up - http://memoori.com/portfolio/bems-market-2013-to-2017/
The traditional big players in efficiency will greet the announcement with open arms, but it is the small and medium sized firms who could see the greatest gains. Widespread legislation, as is being proposed, will likely see the EU and national governments impose a series of incentives and penalties to encourage efficiency. Such measures would open up the market to the plethora of innovative smart building technology firms currently emerging.
The EU smart building market is primarily in western Europe, including Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K. The EU and Scandinavia already have a higher penetration than North America, which has drawn focus to the opportunity in the US market. The new EU targets should put Europe firmly back on the map for smart building technology firms, big and small.