EU energy policy overview

Tracing the European Union origins to the European Coal and Steel Community established in 1951 by Treaty of Paris, through European Economic Community originating from Treaty of Rome in 1957. (Treaty on the Functioning of European Union) and European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) to 2007 Treaty of Lisbon, energy has always been one of the key pillars of European Union. Mandatory EU energy policy stems from EU Treaty from Lisbon, which includes solidarity in matters of energy supply.

The 3rd energy package is legislative framework for networked energy sources energy market in the European Union, which opened market for the gas and electricity in the EU. Package was adopted by EU Parliament and the Council of European union in 2009, following the initiatives set forth with establishment of internal electricity and gas market through Directive 90/377/EEC of 29 June 1990 concerning a Community procedure to improve the transparency of gas and electricity prices charged to industrial end users, Directive 90/547/EEC of 29 October 1990 on transit of electricity through transmission grids and Directive 91/226/EEC of 31 May 1991 on the transit of natural gas through grids. Package sets common goals, methods and mechanisms for improvement of performance of energy sector in EU member states.

With buildings identified as single largest consumer of end energy in the EU, with more than 39% of fossil fuel consumption attributed to the energy use in buildings, two major Directives are setting the requirements for energy efficiency in buildings – Directive 2010/31/EU on energy performance of buildings revised by the Directive 2018/844/EU on energy performance of buildings and Directive 2012/27/EU of 25 October 2012 on energy efficiency amended on 11 December 2018.

Energy performance of buildings directive covers broad range of policies to boost energy performance of buildings and improve the building stock:

  • Long term renovation strategies (LTRS) are aiming the decarbonization of building stock by 2050, setting up indicative milestones for 2030, 2040 and 2050, with progress indicators and backed by financial component. Long term renovation strategies are considered in conjunction with National Energy and Climate Plans (NECP). LTRS have to be adopted by member states until 10 March 2020, and NECP by 31 December 2019.
  • Smart Readiness indicators and rating scheme is being developed, future proofing the new and renovated buildings
  • further promotion of smart technologies – through e.g. building automation and control systems and devices
  • e-mobility is interwoven with requirements for buildings, in expectation of further development of technology, which still requires significant investment in infrastructure directly related to places of work and residence
  • closer relation and comparability of national energy performance requirements, with five years revision and update time step
  • promotion of health and well-being of building users
  • nearly zero energy buildings
  • energy performance certificates
  • cost optimal minimum requirements for buildings and building components
  • lists of national financial measures for improvement of energy efficiencies of buildings

Existing building stock, with its poor energy performance, social structure of residents, and generally shorter remaining life span represents big challenge in decarbonization, and renovation of buildings is of utmost importance to reach energy savings targets. Interestingly, reducing energy consumption is bringing in new perspective of the whole energy sector, where investment on demand side of the supply chain is gaining more importance than energy consumption and cost.

Commission recommendations 2019/786 of 8 May 2019 on building renovation confirm commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030, increase the proportion of renewable energy and make energy savings. Policies already mentioned in EPBD are further explained with guidelines to deter errors in implementation. Recommendations are focusing on three key elements – Long term renovation strategies, financial incentives and information and Framework for calculation of energy performance of buildings.

Additional recommendations on building modernization are discussed which will help in further improvement of building stock beyond minimum requirements for renovation.  

Comprehensive update on EU energy policy framework is moving away from fossil fuels towards cleaner energy, and is expected to enter into force by summer 2019. This new energy rulebook is called Clean energy for all Europeans and in words of Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete it is “the most ambitious set of energy proposals ever presented by the European Commission”. The package brings regulatory certainty, which will facilitate the necessary public and private investment in the clean energy transition, through energy performance in buildings, renewable energy, energy efficiency, governance regulation, electricity market design and non-legislative initiatives. Clean energy for all Europeans is composed of:

  • Energy efficiency first: the revamped directive on energy efficiency sets a new, higher target of energy use for 2030 of 32.5%, and the new Energy performance of buildings directive maximizes the energy saving potential of smarter and greener buildings.
  • More renewables: an ambitious new target of at least 32% in renewable energy by 2030 has been fixed, with specific provisions to foster public and private investment, in order for the EU to maintain its global leadership on renewables.
  • A better governance of the Energy Union: A new energy rulebook under which each Member State drafts National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) for 2021-2030 setting out how to achieve their energy union targets, and in particular the 2030 targets on energy efficiency and renewable energy. These draft NECPs are currently being analysed by the Commission, with country-specific recommendations to be issued before the end of June.
  • More rights for consumers: the new rules make it easier for individuals to produce, store or sell their own energy, and strengthen consumer rights with more transparency on bills, and greater choice flexibility.
  • A smarter and more efficient electricity market: the new laws will increase security of supply by helping integrate renewables into the grid and manage risks, and by improving cross-border cooperation.

Commission recommendations on building modernization were adopted on 6 June 2017, and give specific provisions to ensure that technical building systems are designed, dimensioned, installed and adjusted in a way that optimises performance. Recommendations are targeting specifically:

  • requirements on installing self-regulating devices and building automation and control system
  • electromobility recharging infrastructure
  • calculation of primary energy factors

BIMcert is answering one of the strong points in energy transition of EU that has been addressed in EPBD and Commission recomendation on building renovation – requirement for skills development and training, because of continuous and intensive changes in building requirements and unprecedented speed of development of construction industry.