The conference held today focused on the role of efficient buildings, vehicles and equipment as an essential driver to economic success. As Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, expressed during the opening: "efficiency is crucial not only for achieving our energy security and climate goals; it will also give a real boost to the economy by bringing important savings and job creation, in addition to environmental benefits. These are three key sectors that represent huge potential to trigger investment and innovation in the EU".
More than 400 representatives from the research community, industry, policy-makers and stakeholders discussed the role of science and innovation for enhancing competitiveness and economic growth. There was consensus among the speakers that efficiency is not an option, but an obligation if the EU wants to be competitive and that science will be crucial in this process.
In addition to Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn, Hannes Swoboda, President of European Parliament's S&D Group, William E. Kennard, US Ambassador to the EU, Fatih Birol, Chief Economist at the International Energy Agency and Dominique Ristori, JRC Director-General took part in the opening.
In his closing remarks, the JRC Director-General emphasised the need for enhanced co-operation between the public and private sectors to achieve results in the three domains. A holistic approach, identifying the opportunities for new research to boost innovation as vehicle towards creation of jobs and economic growth, is instrumental in achieving synergy between competitiveness and long-term sustainability, he said.
He added that standardisation is another element crucial to scientific advancement in the building, vehicles and equipment sectors, where there are specific needs and various possibilities for innovation.
The building sector and its related service industries are at the core of Europe’s economy. They represent 10% of EU GDP, 22% of the industrial employment and 50% of all materials extracted from earth. The building stock represents 40% of the Union’s final energy consumption.
The automotive industry is of strategic importance to the European economy, representing 12 million jobs, 4% of EU GDP and 90 billion trade surpluses. Moreover, this industry is the biggest private investor in research and innovation.
Energy efficiency improvements in residential appliances and lighting can play a key role in reducing energy consumption. The energy demand from households accounts for 25% of the final energy needs in the EU and their electricity consumption from lighting currently accounts for 10% of the total residential electricity consumption at the EU level.