Navigation path

Energy Efficiency and Energy Savings

© Shutterstock

Conserving energy is the best way to ensure a secure and sustainable energy supply and to reduce greenhouse gases and emissions. Therefore the EU has set itself the objective of saving 20% energy until 2020 (compared to a business-as-usual scenario). Energy can be saved through increased energy efficiency throughout the whole chain from its generation to its transmission and distribution to more efficient end-use. One pillar for enhancing energy efficiency is legislation: there is an increasingly stringent European legislative framework on the performance of products and buildings (for an overview click here). Another pillar is research - paving the way for breakthroughs allowing for more drastic energy savings in the medium and long term.

Energy efficiency in the current Framework Programme (FP7)

Energy efficiency is the cross-cutting issue par excellence and as such is addressed by a number of European programmes and initiatives. The Energy Theme of the current Research Framework Programme (FP7, 2007-2013) focuses on increasing the efficiency in energy generation for all energy technologies, the efficient energy use in the manufacturing industry, poly-generation and socio-economic research. It also comprises the large-scale integration of renewable energy supply and energy efficiency in buildings (Eco-building Initiative) und large communities (CONCERTO Initiative). The Energy and Transport Theme jointly sponsor the CIVITAS PLUS Initiative supporting innovative strategies for clean urban transport. More fuel efficient transport is one central priority of the Transport Theme. The Nanosciences, Nanotechnologies, Materials and New Production Technologies (NMP) Theme funds research for advanced materials, allowing more efficient electricity generation and energy end-use, and industrial processes that consume less energy. In addition the NMP Theme has set up a Joint Technology Initiative (JTI) on Energy Efficient Buildings bringing together all the different stakeholders active in the buildings sector. The crucial role of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) as an enabling technology for improving energy efficiency across the whole economy is addressed mainly by the FP7 ICT Theme. A particular focus of this Theme is on power grid, energy-smart homes and buildings and on smart lighting.

In the field of energy research alone more than EUR 180 million has been spent by the EU since 2002 (start of FP6) to support more than 30 projects dealing directly with energy efficiency and savings. Other research fields (see above) contributed as well substantial amounts.

Current funding opportunities

For more information on current open topics in the area of energy efficiency please click here.

Project results

For an overview of EU funded projects in the area of energy efficiency please see the "funded project section" of our website.

In addition to the Research Framework Programme the Intelligent Energy for Europe (IEE) Programme concentrates on non-technological barriers for energy efficiency in particular with regard to buildings, industry and products.

Cross-thematic initiatives

Energy-efficiency is a multi-facetted and cross-thematic issue. Research spans over many areas so the EU has explored innovative ways to address energy efficiency effectively. In 2009 Public Private Partnerships (PPP) were created in the areas of "Factories of the future", "Energy-efficient buildings" and "Green cars". These PPPs bundle the activities of all relevant FP7 research fields and provide a multi-annual integrated work programme with a pre-defined budget. Another advantage of these PPPs is that they follow a cross-thematic approach – going from basic and applied research through to validation and large-scale demonstration – with an increased emphasis on impact and exploitation. The first calls for proposals for these PPPs have been published in summer 2009.

click to enlarge Indicative technology roadmap of the Smart Cities Initiative (EC, 10/2009)

The EU Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan) calls for a European Initiative on Smart Cities. This Initiative supports cities and regions in taking ambitious measures to progress by 2020 towards a 40% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through sustainable use and production of energy. This will require systemic approaches and organisational innovation, encompassing energy efficiency, low carbon technologies and the smart management of supply and demand. In particular, measures on buildings, local energy networks and transport would be the main components of the Initiative. By 2020, the Smart Cities initiative should put 25 to 30 European cities at the forefront of the transition to a low carbon future. These cities will be the nuclei from which smart networks, a new generation of buildings and low carbon transport solutions will develop into European wide realities that will transform our energy system.