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A neutral approach

Manufacturers’ association EPEE has published a position paper of priorities following the European Commission’s proposed Heating & Cooling strategy

The European Partnership for Energy and the Environment (EPEE) welcomes the announcement by the European Commission to put forward a heating and cooling strategy by the end of 2015 as part of the Energy Union framework.

This strategy will set out how to further improve the energy efficiency of heating and cooling applications. At this stage we see four aspects that need to be taken into account in the debate on an effective heating and cooling strategy:

1. A holistic approach ensuring the effective use of energy;

2. Consumer awareness and investments into energy-efficient solutions;

3. Enforcing existing EU legislation;

4. An equal focus on heating AND cooling.

A holistic approach ensuring the effective use of energy

A successful heating and cooling strategy needs to take a holistic approach which recognises both the crucial role of buildings in Europe’s energy infrastructure and the importance of using energy effectively.

The increasing amount of renewable energy sources results in a fluctuating electricity supply.

A flexible response of cooling applications can add necessary and valuable flexibility to this emerging energy scenario.

To release the potentials of a large ‘virtual power plant’ capacity in the cooling market, a strong focus is needed to develop attractive market models including taxation to ensure innovation on top of the existing basic cooling technologies.

The EU already regulates the energy efficiency of many heating and cooling products through the Ecodesign Directive.

However, even the most energy-efficient products will not result in significant energy savings if the wrong type of equipment is chosen for a building, or if the heating and cooling system has not been planned to operate in the most effective way.

This includes properly sizing, installing, and maintaining products.

EPEE’s recommendation is that the heating and cooling strategy should emphasise the importance of a holistic approach to planning and installing HVAC-R equipment in buildings, rather than focussing solely on continuously increasing the energy efficiency of products.

Consumer awareness and investments in energy-efficient solutions

EPEE broadly welcomes the political orientations set by the EU Energy Ministers on 15-16 April 2015 in view of the heating and cooling strategy. These focus on the need to use more renewable energy for heating and cooling; increasing the use of efficient technologies that are already available and making use of synergies; developing new technological solutions for industrial processes; and making better use of financial instruments.

More work is needed to unlock the potential of the above-mentioned instruments. To reduce energy consumption, we need to increase demand for energy-efficient heating and cooling.

However, there is currently a lack of awareness among consumers about the benefits of energy efficiency. In parallel, institutional investment in energy efficiency projects and initiatives is still undervalued, and public financial support schemes are varied and changing. Public procurement and building certificates can play a crucial role in that context by raising awareness both at consumer and government levels.

EPEE’s recommendation is that the European Commission and governments should continue raising public awareness about the benefits of saving energy as well as developing robust, innovative, and long-term financial mechanisms to stimulate both demand and investment in energy-efficient heating and cooling solutions.

Enforcing existing EU legislation

Energy efficiency regulation is complex to implement and enforce. However, existing regulation could do a lot to increase demand for energy efficiency and thereby reduce consumption.

In that respect, correct energy modelling, including the use of appropriate statistics, is of crucial importance as the potential of heating and cooling solutions is still underestimated.

The 2010 Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) and the 2012 Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) provide an excellent framework to achieve significant energy savings, but enforcement is still weak and patchy.

Member States need to prioritise the complete and timely implementation of these directives, as well as effective control in the markets.

There is also an urgent need to improve market surveillance across the EU to ensure that member states and the private sector comply with their obligations

EPEE’s recommendation – in the spirit of better regulation, the Heating & Cooling Strategy should focus on the implementation and enforcement of existing legislation. In that respect, the European Commission should support Member States with guidance and the sharing of best practice.

It should also put a stronger emphasis on reporting under the EU Economic Semester and ask Member States to clarify their efforts dedicated to heating and cooling solutions within the framework of their next national action plans on energy efficiency (NEEAP) and renewable energies (NREAP) in 2017.

An equal focus on heating and cooling

The Heating & Cooling conference organised by the European Commission in February 2015 took a rather restrictive approach by focussing mainly on the heating sector, and largely on the supply side.

EPEE emphasises that there is a great variety of heating and cooling solutions and that many factors determine which is best suited for a given context.

Moreover, cooling plays an increasingly important role in today’s society. In most cases, it is not a luxury, but essential to our daily lives, such as for example homes for the elderly, hospitals, and the entire food cold chain Therefore, cooling needs and efficient solutions need to be an integral part of a broader strategy.

EPEE’s recommendation – the Heating & Cooling Strategy needs to be as much about heating as about cooling, focusing both on cooling needs and efficient solutions.

When discussing heating and cooling solutions, the European Commission should adopt a neutral approach towards all technologies available.

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