The core objective of Energy Efficiency Watch 3 (EEW3) is to establish a constant feedback loop on the implementation of European and national energy efficiency policies and thus enable both compliance monitoring and mutual learning on effective policy making across the EU. The project team applied a mixed-method approach to assess energy efficiency policy developments in EU Member States. EEW3 analysed the progress made in the implementation of energy efficiency policies in European Member States since the publication of the second National Energy Efficiency Action Plans (NEEAPs) in 2011 by screening official documents, sought experts’ knowledge via an EU-wide survey and has been creating new consultation platforms with a wide spectrum of stakeholders including parliamentarians, regions, cities and business stakeholders. Results are presented in Country Reports for each of the 28 Member States, the Expert Survey Report, 10 Case Studies presenting outstanding energy efficiency policies in Europe, the Key Policy Conclusions, the project summary report in brochure format and this Feedback Loop Report, which summarises the overall EEW3 portfolio.
The full report can be downloaded in English here.
One key activity of EEW3 was a screening of the NEEAPs of 2011 and 2014 and other relevant documents (e.g. communications by Member States on the implementation of important articles of the Energy Efficiency Directive) as well as the ODYSSEE-MURE database. Key findings can be summarised as follows:
There are more new and improved than abandoned or weakened policies since 2011. This indicates a clear positive impact of EU policies, especially the Energy Efficiency Directive and the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. However, it is unclear whether this improvement in policy implementation will be enough to achieve the energy efficiency or savings targets of Art. 7 and Art. 3 of the Energy Efficiency Directive.
The analysis confirmed the well-known fact that Energy Efficiency Obligation schemes take time to implement and increase to levels required to meet the 1.5 % energy savings target per year of Art. 7.
Alternative measures to meet the 1.5% target and in general, all policy implementation appear to suffer from a lack of funding and staff resources. The document analysis presents little evidence on what could be the reason for this. It may be that energy efficiency policy is still seen by many policy-makers as a burden “imposed by Brussels”, instead of the investment that it actually is, yielding the benefits. It may also be that the debt crisis of the years since 2008 has affected budgets for energy efficiency policies in some Member States, and the financial stability pact may have had the same effect in others.
Another central element of the EEW3 project was an extensive survey on the implementation results of the second NEEAPs in the 28 Member States. The aim of the survey was to learn from stakeholders and experts how they see the progress of energy efficiency policies and their implementation. In total, more than 1,100 experts from all 28 EU Member States completed questionnaires and interviews (3 experts were interviewed in each Member State).
As a part of the survey, questions were asked about the energy efficiency policy instruments mentioned in the Directive on Energy End-use Efficiency and Energy Services and the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.
One aspect was the perception of the effectiveness of these instruments. Overall, energy efficiency requirements for new and renovated buildings and labelling of products are the instruments with the highest positive impact perceived. Between 87% and 78% of the experts agree that they are at least partly effective. On the other end of the spectrum, more than a third of the experts considers the inspection of heating and air-conditioning systems as not effective. This shows that some of the long established regulatory instruments in the building sector are seen as the most effective policy instruments.
Even though the overall effectiveness of energy efficiency policies is high, experts were also asked in which sector they see the most important gap in the energy efficiency policies in their respective country. On average across EU countries, transport ranks lowest (38%), followed by the residential sector with 21%. There are however significant differences across countries. By far the largest gap is found in the transport sector in Denmark and in Austria. In both countries, 73% see energy efficiency in transport as the most important policy gap. Also, large gaps in the residential sector are reported from Hungary (60%) and Bulgaria (54%). In a number of countries, the percentage for the residential sector as the weakest sector in energy efficiency policies has decreased.
When asked which policy measures the energy efficiency experts would like to see at EU level, the two most popular measures were “a large European energy efficiency fund (giving both grants and loans)” and “stricter minimum standards for buildings and appliances”.
To learn from the very effective policy instruments and to close the remaining gaps, EEW3 has identified 10 case studies of good practice examples of energy efficiency polices in Europe that have significantly contributed to energy savings, due to their proven policy practices and innovative approaches (see table below). They may provide inspiration for the development of new innovative and ambitious policies and may trigger the transfer of similar policies to other countries.