EU taking steps to improve energy efficiency in Europe
The EU has already achieved a final energy consumption that is below its 2020 target for energy efficiency, as the European Commission's second State of the Energy Union report and accompanying 2016 progress report on energy efficiency, released on 1 February 2017, make clear. Energy efficiency is one of the pillars of the EU's Energy Union strategy. It brings cost savings for consumers, in addition to benefits in the form of the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and increased security of supply, competitiveness, health, sustainability of the European economy, and job creation.
The EU has set itself a target of a 20% primary and final energy consumption reduction by 2020 (compared to baseline projections). While EU countries have already met the 2020 target for final energy consumption (energy consumed by end users, such as industry, households, services and transport), they will need to make an effort to maintain consumption levels below this target between now and 2020. They will also need to make additional efforts in reducing primary energy consumption (total energy consumption, which consists of final energy consumption and also energy consumed in the processes of converting and transporting it), as they have not yet met the EU's 2020 target for primary energy consumption. However, primary energy consumption in Europe dropped between 2005 and 2014, and the Commission is optimistic that the target will be reached by 2020.
Energy efficiency has a direct impact on lowering energy bills, and in addition can allow businesses to become more competitive by lowering their energy costs. It also brings health benefits: modern, efficient heating installations burn fewer fossil fuels and emit fewer air pollutants. Increasing energy efficiency will therefore help the EU to meet its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% (compared with 1990) by 2030. It will also contribute to ensuring Europe's energy security.
Energy efficiency is also integral to the Commission's 'Clean Energy for All Europeans' package, which was published on 30 November 2016. This package includes a proposal for a revised Energy Efficiency Directive. This would raise the EU's binding energy efficiency target for 2030 to 30%. Achieving this higher target would create around 400,000 new jobs, reduce gas imports by 12%, save €70bn in fossil fuel import bills (cumulatively for 2021-2030), and reduce health damage costs by up to €8.3bn per year.