24 February 2011

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Europeans strongly in favour of EU energy solidarity

According to the last European Parliament's Eurobarometer on energy, almost 80% of European citizens are in favour of solidarity between Member States in the event of supply difficulties. The survey also shows that 60% of Europeans consider they would be better protected through a EU coordinated approach of energy policies above national measures, which constitutes a further plea for the "europeanisation" of energy policy. In addition, among priorities in energy comprising the stability of energy prices, renewable energy and security of supply, energy efficiency only comes fourth with only 16% of Europeans considering it a priority field. A striking result calling for immediate action as regards information on new measures to promote more energy savings.

The EU is committed to meet this challenge and energy efficiency has become one of its main priorities. The Commission will present in March a new Energy Efficiency Action Plan with several actions to give all citizens the opportunity to consume less and better.
 

 

More Information: European Parliament Eurobarometer on energyTop

 

EU research and innovation funding: Commission consults on radical changes to create more growth and jobs

The European Commission launched recently a consultation on major improvements to EU research and innovation funding to make participation easier, increase scientific and economic impact and improve value for money. The proposed "Common Strategic Framework", set out in a Green Paper, would cover the current Framework Programme for Research (FP7), the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). This will create a coherent set of instruments, along the whole "innovation chain" starting from basic research, culminating in bringing innovative products and services to market, and also supporting non-technological innovation, for example in design and marketing. The Commission's Green Paper also provides the basis for far-reaching simplification of procedures and rules. The changes aim to maximise the contribution of EU research and innovation funding to the Innovation Union and the Europe 2020 Strategy. Stakeholders have until 20 May 2011 to respond.

 

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Questions & Answers: new energy labels for televisions, refrigerators, dishwashers and washing machines

What are the main differences between the old and the new label?
The new labelling system allows up to three classes (A+ to A+++) to be added on top of class A so as to provide consumers with more differentiation between products. If the majority of the market reaches the upper two classes (A++, A+++), the classification will be reviewed. However, it is expected that classes A+++ are close to the technological limit of possible efficiency improvements.
Another novelty is that the label is language free and will be added in the packaging of each appliance. It will allow retailers to easily attach the label to the appliances at the point of sale and avoid today's situation where appliances are often mislabelled.

Why does the energy label for televisions have seven classes from A to G while the energy label on refrigerators, dishwashers and washing machines goes up to class A+++?
The principle is that the energy label starts with the classes A to G when it is introduced for the first time on the market (which is currently the case for televisions). Refrigerators, dishwashers and washing machines have already been displaying the energy label with the A to G classes for more than 10 years. As a result of the technological improvement triggered by the label, around 90% of those products currently reach class A. This is why new classes have been introduced on top of class A to allow consumers to differentiate "better than A" products.

When will we have for TVs also labels showing classes other than A to G?
Label formats A+ to F, A++ to E and A+++ to D become mandatory in 2014, 2017 and 2020, respectively. However, a TV achieving a class "better than A" can be labelled ahead of these dates. Currently only a few TV models achieve energy efficiency class "A", which are LED backlight technology, while most TVs are in energy efficiency classes "C" and "D", including "average" plasma TVs.

How much money can I save?
If 10 years ago you bought a refrigerator-freezer with energy efficiency class "A" you would have saved around 1000 EUR over the life-time of the appliance compared to the purchase of a product with energy efficiency class "G".
If, for example, you today choose a 50 inch/127cm TV of energy efficiency class "A" instead of energy efficiency Class "D" (where a big bulk of TVs are at the moment), savings are around 35 EUR per year (assuming 1kWh = 0,15€). A family buying an "A" 50 inch/127 cm "main" TV and an "A" 32 inch/81 cm "secondary" TV, the electricity savings are annually 50 EUR, compared to the choice "both are D", and 500 EUR over ten years, if operated 4 hours per day.

What is the impact of the energy label on prices? How can you be sure that companies do not raise prices once they get a good energy class on the label and offset the gains of energy efficiency?
It is of course impossible to guarantee that as prices are not regulated in a free market economy. However, since the energy labels also provide information on how much electricity the appliance would typically consume, consumers will be able to calculate the expected electricity costs and relate it to prices.
We know by experience for example for household refrigerator-freezers or washing machines that the price premium set in the top energy classes used to be higher when one or very few producers were producing products in that class but as soon as competition rises to a sufficient level, prices start to fall. Free competition does get prices down.
The labelling classes are defined with the view that the energy savings on the electricity bill during the use phase of the products should, after a reasonable period of time, compensate for the extra purchase costs of these products.

Does the introduction of these new labels ban some household equipment from the market?
The label does not ban any product from the market but provides information and market transparency to assist consumers to make an informed purchasing decision. It ensures that all products are comparable using the same test methods and classification. Equally, energy labelling aims at providing incentives for industry to develop further improved products and innovations beyond the "minimum" mandatory energy efficiency levels.

How will the new label be introduced at the point of sale? Is an old class A of a fridge, a dishwasher or a washing machine the same as the new one?
The new label will gradually be introduced at the point of sale, meaning that consumers are likely to see the old and the new label close to each other for several months at the point of sale. However, since an old class A or B appliance is equivalent to a new class A or B, consumers will still be able to compare products at the point of sale on the basis of both energy labels.

What is the difference between energy labels, ecolabels and ecodesign?
Energy labels are adopted by the European Commission on a product by product basis (energy labelling Directive 2010/30/EU). They display ranking of products according to their energy efficiency consumption on an A to G scale, the A class (green) being the most energy efficient appliances and the G class (red) the least. Once the majority of products reaches class A, up to three classes (A+/A++/A+++) are added on top of class A.
Energy labels are mandatory for all appliances placed on the EU market and have to be clearly displayed on each appliance shown at the point of sale.

Ecolabels are voluntary labels adopted by the European Commission on a product by product (Ecolabel Regulation (EC/66/2010). The Ecolabel, i.e. the flower logo, may be displayed on products and promotional material on a voluntary basis if they respond to a list of the criteria pre-defined in implementing measures of the Commission and guaranteeing that the product is among the most environmentally friendly in his sector.
Ecodesign requirements are adopted by the European Commission on a product by product basis (ecodesign Directive EC/2009/125). They set requirements on the design of the products so as to improve their environmental impact. Ecodesign requirements are mandatory and must be met by all products to be allowed to be placed on the EU market. They are based on an assessment of the impact of the product on the environment throughout its life-cycle, starting from the production stage, through usage, distribution and disposal.

What will be the next appliances that will get new labels?
The Commission is working on the adoption of new or updated energy labels for the following products: lighting, air conditioning, laundry driers, water heaters, boilers and vacuum cleaners.

More information on the energy label

 

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