Energy Efficiency Reforms Must be Flexible
The EU is currently assessing how effective its rules on energy efficiency have been. I want to guarantee that Local Authorities and the Scottish Government have as much flexibility in implementing energy efficiency as possible. This was my message to the European Parliament's Environment Committee.
Although the Commission has provided few details about the proposals which might emerge from its review of the Energy Directive, I do welcome its explicit statement that the revised energy efficiency target would not be binding on Member States individually; Member States must retain maximum flexibility in choosing the energy mix most appropriate to their circumstances if they are to decarbonise in the most cost-effective way possible.
It is for this reason that I welcome the Rapporteur's suggestion to retain flexibility for the Member State in its implementation of article 7, although I would ask the Rapporteur to clarify what he has in mind, if anything, for closing the existing "loopholes" in this article?
Regarding the 27% renewables target, as adopted by the Council; it is my understanding that this percentage is actually derived from the baseline figure that the EU has calculated it would need to achieve the proposed reduction of 40% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Personally; I do not see this as a "very unambitious target"
Whatever energy efficiency target the Parliament does adopt, we should bear in mind that a higher percentage would not necessarily translate into greater efficiency savings. Take our reliance on gas imports as a case in point. The Commission has estimated that our reliance on overseas gas is expected to reduce by 2.6% for every additional 1% in energy savings, but its assessment also concludes that the additional savings fall off sharply above an energy efficiency rate of 35%. Furthermore, these decreasing benefits would come at an increasing cost to Europe's entire energy system.
I note that the Parliament had previously called for a 40% target, but, again, the benefits in terms of energy security would come with a hefty increase in overall energy costs - approximately 112 billion euros annually to the sector.
My group shall examine carefully the subsidiarity implications of more detailed proposals on energy efficiency, specifically Article 7 on energy efficiency obligation schemes. We shall also pay close attention to the governance arrangements for meeting the 2030 targets, as and when these are brought forward by the Commission.