Will EC’s Renovation Wave turn the tide on energy poverty?


With its newly-announced Renovation Wave Strategy, the European Commission is aiming to double building renovation rates over the next 10 years, resulting in higher energy efficiency, writes Dr Heather Johnstone.

If successful, this strategy could be instrumental is tackling Europe’s long-standing problem of energy poverty and its many associated issues.

The strategy seeks to have 35 million buildings renovated and up to 160,000 additional green jobs created in the construction sector by 2030.

Buildings are responsible for 40% of the EU’s energy consumption and 36% of greenhouse gas emissions from energy, yet currently only 1% of buildings undergo renovation to improve their energy efficiency each year, so raising this rate is seen as crucial to Europe’s achieving climate-neutrality by 2050.

According to the Commission, close to 34 million Europeans are unable to afford to heat their homes, so public policies to promote energy-efficient renovation are an important response to tackling energy poverty, helping to reduce their energy bills and supporting better health and wellbeing.

Timmermans: “We want everyone in Europe to have a home they can light, heat, or cool.”

Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, said: “We want everyone in Europe to have a home they can light, heat, or cool without breaking the bank or breaking the planet.

“The Renovation Wave will improve the places where we work, live and study, while reducing our impact on the environment and providing jobs for thousands of Europeans. We need better buildings if we want to build back better.”

While, Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, added: “The green recovery starts at home. With the Renovation Wave we will tackle the many barriers that today make renovation complex, expensive and time consuming, holding back much needed action.

Kadri Simson: “The green recovery starts at home.”

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The strategy prioritises three key action areas:

  • Decarbonisation of heating and cooling
  • Tackling energy poverty and worst-performing buildings
  • Renovation of public buildings such as schools, hospitals and administrative buildings

The Commission proposes to break down existing barriers across the renovation chain, from the conception of a project to its funding and completion, with a set of policy measures, funding tools and technical assistance instruments.

Together with the Renovation Wave, the Commission also published a Recommendation for Member States on tackling energy poverty.

Marine Cornelis, Executive Director of Next Energy Consumer, provides a thoughtful and interesting review of the Renovation Wave Strategy here.

Enlit Europe’s two recent episodes exploring energy poverty from an affordability perspective and the key role of renovation are available to view on demand here:
Energy Poverty (Part 1): The Question of Energy Affordability
Energy Poverty (Part 2): Role of Energy Efficiency & Renovation

Dr Heather Johnstone is Content Director at Enlit Europe.