Ceced: energy efficiency is crucial for Europe and industry

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Ceced and the Coalition for Energy Savings propose to the European Union to raise the energy savings target to 40% within 2030. A target that can bring important common benefits

Paolo Falcioni, general director of Ceced Europe and chairman of the Coalition for Energy Savings
Paolo Falcioni, general director of Ceced Europe and chairman of the Coalition for Energy Savings

by Tiziana Corti

Energy efficiency plays a key role in many fields. Environmental safeguard and resources savings are two factors that affect everyone: industry, institutions and citizens, involving a mix of benefits and advantages of which we are still not aware enough.
In addition to the great ecological fight, in fact, they play other economic and social roles, which Europe must face in a coherent and cohesive manner.
The proper use of resources offers to the Union and to the whole Continent a great competitive advantage and is the main driver for the recovery and development of the household appliance industry and of the real estate market.
Ceced Europe goes on working hard to transmit this message both to the European Commission – which drafts guidelines and sets out the objectives to be achieved – and to consumers in all markets, who can obtain great benefits from the energy savings resulting from the proper use of home appliances.
To deepen the latest developments in the definition of regulations at European level and the situation of industry in the Continent, we interviewed Paolo Falcioni, general director of Ceced Europe and chairman of the Coalition for Energy Savings, voluntary organization born to put the efficiency and the reduction of consumptions at the center of European energy policy.

What contents resulted from the latest Energy Savings Summit in Brussels?
The Summit we organized as Coalition focused on the energy efficiency situation in 2016, year of the implementation of the Energy Union, the project of the vice-president of the European Commission, Maroš Šefčovič, including a series of measures to improve energy use, from procurement to final consumption. A project in which we would like to see the consumer put at the center and let him free to voluntarily participate to a more dynamic energy market, simply understanding the advantages and benefits in his bill costs.

How are your proposals considered by the European Commission?
Not always favorably, because sometimes the Union tends to propose obligations that, in our point of view, should not be applied. For example, recently they talked about imposing the presence of smart functions for energy control on all new appliances. But that would compromise the free choice of consumers, who must assess and consciously adopt solutions to reduce consumption. This can occur spontaneously, giving the user the tools to know the amount of energy used by a particular appliance and the individual actions that can reduce it. Essentially, for us ‘to put the consumer at the center’ means providing – and not to force – him a tool to better manage his bill.

What else resulted from the Summit then?
Another issue on which we focused on is the key role that energy efficiency played in Europe and will play in maintaining cohesive the Union in the future. It is crucial, in fact, that energy policy is managed centrally: whatever measures were taken at national level would risk to unbalance the common market. Shared measures are necessary, instead, as well as standardization of devices.
The work done so far by the European Commission has brought great results. We have finally been able to decouple the growth of Gross domestic product and the energy consumption, which until a decade ago were directly proportional: GDP growth went together with the energy consumption.

How is the Coalition for Energy Savings organized and who are its members?
The Coalition is a unique entity because it brings together very different ‘souls’. It is in fact made up by a strong industrial component – with associations such Ceced (household appliances), Cogen (cogeneration units), Eurima (insulation in buildings) or Glass for Europe – by organizations such as WWF, CEE Bankwatch Network and BEUC (European Consumer Organization), as well as local authorities and Trade Unions. It is therefore an heterogeneous reality united by the effort to bring the energy efficiency issue at the highest political level of the European Union.

What are the proposals of the Coalition to legislators?
We made an intense work to find the optimal level of efficiency to be achieved, so that benefits exceed costs. To find that target, we made specific analysis for each sector, then putting together all the results. At the end of this phase of the study we came to define a sustainable common target: a reduction of energy consumption by 40% within 2030.

Through what kind of interventions, could this target be achieved?
To make a very concrete example, during the Summit Theresa Griffin, member of the European Parliament, explained that to increase the efficiency of only 1% means renewing 3 million homes. So, the implications of this operation are so relevant also from an economic and employment point of view. The individual role of consumers is fundamental in increasing energy efficiency.

What has been the reaction of the European Commission in front of these figures?
The proposal of the Member States regarding the target to be achieved by 2030 was very inferior to ours, stopping at 27%. For this reason, we are doing everything possible so that the Commission examines all possible scenarios, coming to contemplate the 40% target.
Currently, on a general level, the European Union is in line with the target of 20% expected for 2020. Unfortunately, however, we have to specify that we are not aligned only thanks to the interventions made to increase energy efficiency but also for the drastic industrial output reduction recorded during the crisis years, particularly between 2007 and 2008. So the result cannot be said satisfactory.

Beyond energy savings, what benefits would derive from the achievement of the targets described above?
Surely an increase in employment levels in many sectors, starting with all those involved in the renovation of buildings. Do not forget that today our industry, household appliances, creates a million jobs, considering the direct and indirect ones, and for every eight major domestic appliances bought in Europe, seven are also manufactured in the Continent (also including Turkey and Russia).

From this point of view, what is the situation regarding the offer and use of efficient appliances in Italy and in the other European markets?
Contrary to what people believe, the presence of efficient appliances in the homes is not so extensive and the work of renewal and replacement of obsolete appliances is still considerable. This depends, first of all, on the fact that products are much more durable than what it is said. This is demonstrated by a study that we made about  the presence of washing machines in Italy. We examined the sales of these appliances in recent decades, according to their energy class, estimating their duration and the timing after which these machines will become Weee to replace. From the results, it appears that at the end of 2014 the half of the installed washing machines on the Italian market was still labeled with the old energy label. And we’re talking about a commodity product with a very high penetration in a country like Italy. This shows how much more can be done to reduce household energy consumption in Europe.  A concept we have been reiterating for a  long time with our slogan “Sustainability starts at home.”

A very concrete message…
Our associative work is just to provide data and concrete elements to present to legislators so that the basis for establishing any intervention were solid and justified. We want, in fact, to play a mediator action between industry and institutions, not to receive normative impositions that go to limit technological innovation.  In our point of view, in fact, set the objectives to be achieved, then the industry must be to find solutions and technologies to reach them and give the consumer the appropriate information in order to choose, as we would like it happens with energy labeling, which is currently under review.

How is the review of the Energy Label going on?
By the end of the year it is expected to reach an initial agreement. Our priority is to make the consumer understand how the new scale will be formed and, most importantly, allow him to compare the new labels with the old ones. We cannot risk to create confusion among the end users fueling an unnecessary skepticism. The re-scaling, in fact, involves the creation of a new label where the current maximum efficiency classes (A +, A ++ and A +++) will be renamed with letters that now identify lower classes. So the consumer could find a new washing machine in the C class with the same efficiency of the old A+ class or even with a higher efficiency. To express this concept clearly, for example putting the new label near the old one on products, is essential to avoid confusion. Do not forget that the success of the EU Energy label has so far depended precisely by its stability and continuity over the years.

Among the main new generation tools for the consumption control we can mention of course the connected appliances. How is the diffusion of the smart home going on?
From our point of view, the consumption control should be the first and most important function of the smart appliances, as well as the one on which to focus the products promotion, instead often based on other features, interesting but less prior.
On the occasion of the Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW 2016), which will be held in Brussels from 13 to 17 June 2016, we will launch the new slogan “Energy Union starts at home” and, in our stand we will show connected home appliances which effectively indicate energy consumption in a precise time and under certain conditions. A way to show very clearly the consequences of our everyday actions, such as the use of the washing machine or dishwasher.
Another key issue is the reduction of food waste, aims to which a smart refrigerators can contribute with remarkable results both in ethical and economical terms: less food waste in fact corresponds to a saving of around 500-600 euros a year.

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A COALITION FOR EFFICIENCY IN EUROPE
The Coalition for Energy Savings is an open platform, made up of more than 400 associations (from Ceced to WWF to BEUC), 150 companies, 15 million supporters, consumer organizations, local authorities and trade unions, all united in order to put energy efficiency and consumption reduction at the center of energy policy as a driving force for a secure, sustainable and competitive European Union. Shared goal is to achieve 40% of energy savings by 2030, through actions and initiatives for reducing waste and consumption at European level.
ENERGY UNION: WHY?
Published in February 2015, the Energy Union package aims to ensure Europe and its citizens a safe, sustainable and affordable energy. Specific measures cover five key areas, including energy security, energy efficiency and decarbonization. The package provides the definition of a framework strategy for the Energy Union that specifies the objectives and concrete measures to be taken to achieve it. It also states the EU vision for the new global climate agreement scheduled in Paris in December 2015 and identifies a series of actions required to achieve the target of 10% for the electricity interconnection by 2020.
According to the European Union, the improvement of energy interconnections among the Member States and the modernization of infrastructure would help to minimize the fluctuations and energy dependence. In addition, the completion of the internal energy market would allow easier access to energy markets across borders. This will also facilitate more affordable energy prices and would improve the competitiveness for citizens and companies. In line with the EU targets agreed under the 2030 framework for climate and energy, the EU must also reduce its overall dependence on fossil fuels and greenhouse effect gas emissions.