Europe scales up energy efficiency goal in its new proposed directive

Ilario D'Amato
Reading time: 4 minutes
5 December 2016

LONDON: The European Union has put energy efficiency at the heart of its energy policies, setting a binding target of 30% by 2030.

The proposed updated Energy Efficiency Directive, part of the “Winter package” of climate policies presented last week, sets the framework for improving energy efficiency in general, in buildings and for products – through the introduction of specific eco-design and energy labelling.

With this move, the European Commission plans to mobilize private and public investment of up to US$74.5 billion per year from 2021 onward and a job increment of up to 400,000 units – as part of the more than US$200 billion and 900,000 jobs estimated for the whole 2030 energy and climate package.

“The economic benefits of increasing energy productivity are clear, tangible and immediately effective,” commented Jenny Chu, Head of Energy Productivity Initiatives, The Climate Group.

“Our EP100 initiative is demonstrating how leading businesses are reducing their energy costs, enhancing their profits and overall competitiveness, while at the same time reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Crucially, this plan from the European Commission puts energy security center and front of its energy strategy
Jenny Chu, Head of Energy Productivity Initiatives, The Climate Group


The European Union has an ambitious target of cutting its CO2 emissions at least by 40% by 2030 from 1990 levels, reaching a share of 27% of renewables in its energy mix by the same date.

The just proposed target of increasing energy efficiency from the planned 27% to 30% will reduce fossil fuel imports by 12% in 2030, saving US$4.5 billion in imports, the Commission states.

On the consumers’ side, the directive is expected to save European households about US$530 per year through the Ecodesign policy, ensuring informed choices about energy appliances while delivering an extra revenue of US$58.5 billion per year for industries and retailers.


Energy efficiency is the central issue for consumers of today and tomorrow. Technology already exists today to use better energy, better – and the most striking example of this is the light-emitting diode (LED) technology, which can achieve savings up to 50-70% compared to older light technologies.

“We have the technological means to achieve energy and economic savings today,” underlines Dr Peter Curley, Program Manager for the LED Scale-up program at The Climate Group. “There is an ongoing need for more energy efficiency focused policy and high level commitments to help accelerate roll-out of LED technology at pace and scale.”

An image of Madrid's new smart LEDs, courtesy of Philips Lighting

Last year, The Climate Group has called for all city street lighting to-switch to LED by 2025, a move that could save over 109 million tons of CO2 and avoid the construction of more than 100 power stations - with economic savings of US$22.5 billion globally.

“Street lighting can be far more energy efficient using LEDs, with a range of options for selected colours and designs to reduce light pollution. With connected lighting, smart, and centralised management controls engineers can optimise city lighting to maximise the economic and energy savings,” concludes Dr Peter Curley.

“This is an example where energy efficiency and energy productivity, which is about getting more economic output from each unit of energy, can become a powerful metric for cities and policy makers.”

For example, in 2014 Madrid upgraded all of its street lighting, enabling energy savings of 44% – which should repay the cost of the technology upgrade.

Energy efficiency and proven, cleaner technologies are two main roads for the pathway traced by the climate Paris Agreement last December.

However, as The Climate Group’s work shows, while there are many encouraging signs of a decisive turn toward the inevitable net-zero economy of the future, policymakers must accelerate the implementation of their climate actions and raise the level of ambition.

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