Consistent energy efficiency policies should encourage energy savings across the whole energy chain (end-use, generation, transmission and distribution) and achieve reductions where it is the most cost-effective. The goals of the energy transition will be reached only with a smart combination of energy savings measures AND sustainable energy supply.
For heating and cooling, a first step in ensuring the coordination of actions was taken with the publication of the EU Heating and Cooling Strategy. Its principles must now be put into practice with a consistent set of instruments, including during the ongoing revision of the most important energy efficiency policies: the 2012 Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) and the 2010 Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD).
The EED establishes a set of binding measures to help the EU reach its 20% energy efficiency target by 2020. The Directive specifically requires each EU country to carry out a comprehensive assessment of the national potential of cogeneration and district heating and cooling by December 2015.
In November 2016, the Commission released its “Clean Energy For All Europeans” package, which includes key energy efficiency legislative proposals with impact on the district energy sector: revisions of the Directives on Energy Efficiency (EED) and Energy Performance of Buildings (EPBD).
The EPBD is the main legislative piece aimed at reducing the energy consumption of buildings. We believe that the energy performance of any building cannot be seen without its interaction with the surrounding energy system and the neighbouring buildings. The future EPBD must therefore widen its current perspective on individual buildings, and base all measures and methodologies on a system-approach. As a result, this considers the full benefits of community level solutions, while also considering the local conditions. District energy networks can increase the efficiency of both an entire system and individual buildings, as they improve the utilisation of available resources (waste heat, renewable heat, surplus electricity) and thereby significantly reducing the use of fossil fuels.