Speak Up Energy

Financial barriers, including high initial cost barriers and an inadequacy of traditional financing instruments, are a key element preventing private actors from engaging further towards making the residential building sector more energy efficient, according to a study from the International Energy Agency (IEA) published on 20 March.Existing buildings are responsible for over 40% of the world’s total primary energy consumption and account for 24% of world CO2 emissions, according to IEA, which argues that “an impressive amount” of this energy could be saved by applying energy-efficient technologies and practices. Despite the proven cost-effectiveness of energy-efficiency technologies, their potential remains untapped in the building sector “due to numerous market barriers”, states the IEA, based on the results of case studies of the residential sector in France, Germany, the UK, Japan and the US. The IEA considers energy efficiency as “by far” the most cost-effective way to tackle the three-fold challenge of increasing energy security, reducing costs and contributing to a cleaner environment. While the EU has committed to slashing its energy consumption by 20% by 2020 through improved energy efficiency, its energy-savings plans have so far received much less attention that its ‘sister’ goals of reducing CO2 and raising the share of renewable energies – also by 20% respectively, by the same date.”With surging energy consumption, high energy prices and raising CO2 emissions, the imperative to improve energy efficiency is stronger than ever,” said Nobuo Tanaka, IEA Executive Director, pointing out that action in the building sector can play a “key role” on this road to a sustainable energy future. But, this will first require the removal of existing market barriers, including the “low priority given to energy issues”, the presence of information asymmetries and large financial barriers, the IEA said.The Agency calls for the creation of a real market for energy efficiency, saying the current one is “weak and perceived as too risky”. While it congratulates EU moves to create a unified market through standardisation and liberalisation, it warns that market transformation “will not take place without increased involvement from the private sector”.It therefore recommends the set-up of public-private partnerships to help overcome the cost barriers related to energy-efficient building projects and to increase certainty through risk-sharing instruments, thereby boosting large private sector involvement.

Efficiency improvements in home appliances and buildings top the Commission’s list of 10 ‘priority actions’ for energy efficiency outlined in an October 2006 Energy Efficiency Action Plan.

From Eur Activ

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