Energy efficiency investments are a low priority for companies in the EU, according to a new study released by the European Investment Bank (EIB).
The study, Going Green – Who is investing in energy efficiency and why it matters, is based on a survey of 12,500 EU firms.
Only 40% of EU firms have invested in measures to improve energy efficiency in 2019, the study has found. However, the investments made account for only a small share of their total investment budget.
Slovakia displayed the highest percentage of firms investing in efficiency (61%), followed by Spain, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, Portugal and Sweden.
Only these seven EU countries show a greater share of firms investing in energy efficiency than in the United States, where 47% of firms have invested in efficiency initiatives.
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By contrast, Lithuania, Estonia, Greece, Romania and France were at the other end of the spectrum.
On average, only a third of building stock satisfies the highest energy efficiency standards in the EU, showing huge potential for further savings in Europe. The perception of the quality of building stock amongst in EU firms has deteriorated since 2016.
EIB states that firms’ awareness of energy efficiency benefits is critical for the uptake of energy-saving measures.
The share of companies investing in energy management measures is considerably higher for firms with an energy audit than for those without one. 60% of EU firms with an energy audit (74% in energy-intensive industries) also invested in efficiency improvements. The report states that energy audits can help unlock investments in efficiency projects.
Andrew McDowell, EIB vice president responsible for energy, said: “Energy efficiency investment will be crucial for Europe’s green recovery and reaching our climate goals. It holds the combined potential of increasing firms’ competitiveness, enhancing energy security and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It shows that going green and strong growth can go hand in hand.
“The report we published today highlights the vast untapped possibilities for energy savings by EU firms and the pressing need to accelerate market uptake for such measures. As the EU’s climate bank, we will continue to provide the advisory and financial support necessary to unlock this potential.”
Debora Revoltella, chief economist at EIB, adds: “We need to avoid that the Covid-19 crisis distorts firms’ incentives to invest in energy efficiency. Our ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets leave no room for complacency. EU firms must become more energy-efficient if they want to stay competitive.
“For firms to play their part in energy conservation and be equipped to adapt to a changing economy, they need clear energy policy signals. They need a supportive regulatory framework that also pushes for higher energy building performance standards. And they need financing conditions that support timely investment to realise the enormous gains of energy efficiency improvements.”
The survey comprised 13 500 firms in all EU Member States, as well as a sample of US firms that serves as a benchmark.
The report is available for download.