July 5, 2017
The cheapest energy is the energy you don’t use!
Using energy in the most optimal way possible will not only save you money, it will also help reducing negative climate effects, reduce the dependency on imported energy and in addition create economic growth by stimulating innovation and investments into smart use of energy.
The EU’s ambitions on energy efficiency has just been moved upwards a bit as EU ministers agreed on a 30% improvement of energy efficiency by 2030. However, the ambitions were not high enough to make this target binding, but the main issue here is not really binding targets or not, but rather the constantly increasing focus on energy efficiency.
More rational use of energy can take place at many different levels: In energy production and distribution all the way down to the individual consumer be it companies (or public sector entities) or private homes. And it seems the emphasis now is on the micro-level – the consumer. The Commission’s Winter Package from end of 2016 emphasised the role of the consumer in achieving energy efficiency targets. And there are many reasons why such a bottom-up approach could be successful as long as the consumers are empowered – in other words have the opportunities for making choices between different ways of supplying the energy for their households, but also are presented with opportunities to do something about their own individual consumption, including smart digital solutions. Whatever solution is offered, it will in the end need to make sense, not just in ecological, but moreover in economic terms for the consumers to really start an energy efficiency revolution.
Digital solutions for more efficient use of energy are part of the concept of smart homes, that are gradually becoming more and more visible, and though a lot of innovation could still be needed to make the products and services even more attractive, there already solutions out there and low-hanging fruits for policymakers and consumers to pick, with the prospects of further growth for those companies, that can meet this challenge. The political support is there, the consumer’s interest in saving energy, both for the sake of contributing to a cleaner planet and for the sake of saving money is clearly there, and financing schemes for investments in energy saving are popping up all the time. There are elements in the EU Fund for Strategic Investments (the Juncker-.fund), the EU Structural Funds have financing for energy saving, the European Commission is now launching initiatives for public-private partnerships in financing energy efficiency, and in addition there is a rather large fund – European Energy Efficiency Fund – managed by the European Investment Bank, that provides financing schemes for improving energy efficiency.
The consumers should not be waiting before making their contribution to a more rational use of our energy resources, but much more could be happening than what we are witnessing at the moment. It seems that the industries involved in energy efficiency could be more active in presenting solutions that already work now, and indeed in innovation that could bring new and better solutions to the market. With some many initiatives taking place at European level, the market is huge so the chances for success for clever products and solutions should be great.