Smart grids and smart metering underpin new European energy efficiency plan


Günther Oettinger,
for Energy
Brussels, Belgium — (METERING.COM) — March 14, 2011 – The rollout of smart grids and smart meters providing consumers with the information and services necessary to optimize their energy consumption and calculate their energy savings is key to a new energy efficiency plan adopted by the European Commission (EC).

The plan, which is aimed at contributing to achieving the 2020 goal of a 20 percent saving in primary energy consumption, is intended to tap higher energy savings from “buildings, transport and products and processes.”

Recent EC estimates suggest that the region is on course to achieve only half of the goal so far.

According to the plan, buildings, which account for almost 40 percent of final energy consumption, offer the greatest energy saving potential. While techniques exist to cut existing buildings’ consumption by half or three-quarters and to halve the energy consumption of typical appliances, the renovation rate of buildings is too low, as is the uptake of the most efficient appliances.

Improvements to the energy performance of devices used by consumers – such as appliances and smart meters – should play a greater role in monitoring or optimizing their energy consumption, allowing for possible cost savings, the plan states. To this end the Commission will ensure that consumer interests are properly taken into account in technical work on labelling, energy saving information, metering and the use of ICT. Consumer behavior and purchasing attitudes will be researched, with consumer organizations to be consulted at the early stage of the process.

Further, the Commission will propose adequate measures to ensure that technological innovation, including the rollout of smart grids and smart meters, leads to consumers being provided with appropriate information (e.g. clear billing) about their energy consumption including access to advice on how to make their consumption less energy intensive.

The plan also touches on transport – which accounts for 32 percent of final energy consumption – saying that this has the second largest potential for energy saving, adding that this will be addressed by the upcoming White Paper on Transport.

Energy efficiency in industry will be tackled through energy efficiency requirements for industrial equipment, improved information provision for SMEs and measures to introduce energy audits and energy management systems.

“Despite progress, our estimates show that we need a further decisive and coordinated action on energy efficiency,” commented Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner responsible for Energy. “(The plan) paves the way for the longer term policies needed to achieve a decarbonized and resource-efficient economy by 2050 and to place the EU at the forefront of innovation.”

The measures in the plan, coupled with those already in place, are estimated to have the potential to generate financial savings of up to €1,000 per household per year, improve Europe’s industrial competitiveness, create up to 2 million jobs, and reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 740 million tons.

A report on progress will be presented in spring 2013. If the review shows that the overall EU target is unlikely to be achieved, the Commission says it will propose legally binding targets for 2020.