Europe’s energy saving potential


Europe has the potential to save up to almost 23% of energy use by 2030, a new European Commission analysis has found.

The assessment prepared for the European Commission for the EU27 found that the 2030 technical reduction potential across the residential, commercial, industrial and road transport sectors is 200,149ktoe, corresponding to 22.6%, while the economic reduction potential is 137,871ktoe or 15.5%.

Broken down, the respective technical and economic reduction potentials are 32.7% and 15.5% in the residential sector, 23.5% and 26% in the commercial, 24.4% and 23.5% in the industrial and 10.5% and 6.5% in road transport.

For the study, the technical energy saving potential is the level of energy savings that could be achieved if the baseline technology of energy-using equipment, product or process were replaced with higher technical efficiency energy-saving opportunities or additional energy-saving measures.

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The economic saving potential quantifies the level of energy savings that could be achieved by implementing only cost-effective programmes based on the lifetime cost of providing an energy service using an efficient technology measure that otherwise would be provided by an inefficient baseline technology.

Energy savings opportunities

Residential sector

Approximately half of the energy savings potential is in space heating. Most of the rest is attributed to improvements of household energy-related appliances, equipment and fixtures, such as wastewater heat recovery systems, low flow shower heads, thermal curtains, solar heating system, improved hot water system insulation and higher efficiency heating appliances.

There also is energy-saving potential in building structural improvement, most likely through ‘deep renovation’ including improved wall/basement insulation, draft proofing and higher efficiency glazing.

Commercial sector

The energy-saving potential for the commercial sector is attributed to a diverse set of energy-saving opportunities. About one-fifth could potentially be attributed to improved lighting systems and a similar proportion to more efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.

Structural improvements to buildings and water heating systems comprise the next greatest opportunities, followed by better building control systems, including building recommissioning, advanced building control systems, adaptive thermostats and improved computer-managed equipment.

Industrial sector

Almost three-quarters of the potential in the industrial sector is attributed to improvements in process heating, such as flue gas monitoring systems, advanced control systems, boiler load management, waste heat recovery, premium efficiency burners, combustion air preheating, improvement of heating system insulation, combustion optimisation and improved preventive maintenance.

Most of the rest is the improvement of motor systems.

Road transport sector

Over two-thirds of the energy-saving potential for the road transport sector is attributed to efficiency improvements of public transport vehicles, with similar improvements also reducing the energy demand for light-duty and heavy goods vehicles.