Brussels, Belgium — (METERING.COM) — March 13, 2009 – With the potential to reduce carbon emissions in Europe by up to 15 percent by 2020, the European Commission, as part of its effort to combat climate change and drive economic recovery, has issued a call to member states and industry to use information and communications technologies (ICTs) to improve energy efficiency.

ICTs have a dual role to play in energy efficiency, the Commission points out. ICTs can enable energy efficiency improvements by reducing the amount of energy required to deliver services by monitoring and directly managing energy consumption, by providing the tools for more energy efficient business models, working practices and lifestyles, and by delivering innovative technologies.

ICTs can also provide the quantitative basis on which energy efficient strategies can be devised, implemented and evaluated. Smart metering, for example, exploits the capacity of ICTs to quantify energy consumption and provide appropriate information to consumers. ICTs can also address the complexities of measuring energy performance at a system level, with software tools providing information and data on how to better configure the various elements of a system so as to optimize its overall energy performance.

To this end the Commission says it intends to set out a series of measures that will pave the way for ICTs to contribute to energy efficiency gains and emissions reductions.

First, the ICT sector will be called upon to set itself targets to become more energy efficient, by collectively agreeing a common approach to measuring energy performance and benchmarking progress.

Second, working partnerships between the ICT sector and other major energy using sectors, such as buildings and construction, will be encouraged to further improve the energy performance through the use of energy efficient ICT tools such as heating, ventilation, lighting and design.

Third, member states will be called upon to enable the EU-wide rollout of ICT tools likely to trigger a shift in the behavior of consumers, businesses and communities and at the same time drive demand for innovative ICT solutions to optimize the energy performance of their own operations.

As part of this, and although smart metering is currently being discussed in the context of the third internal energy market package, member states will be called upon to agree on an EU-wide minimum level of functionality for smart metering so that the same minimum options can be offered to all consumers, irrespective of where they live and who provides the service, and to ensure interoperability.

“Targeting energy efficient and low carbon growth will help Europe face its biggest challenges: climate change, energy security and the economic crisis,” said Viviane Reding, commissioner for Information Society and Media. “ICTs have an enormous untapped potential for saving energy right across the economy.”

Results from trials in a number of member states show that using smart meters can lower energy consumption by up to 10 percent. ICT-enabled systems have also been found to reduce energy consumption of buildings in the EU by up to 17 percent.

The Commission also announced that a public consultation would take place to establish a common base for commitments to and claims of improved energy efficiency.