PRESS RELEASE- Making Efficiency First operational: New project aims to support policy makers put the European guideline into practice in view of the EU Green Deal

Posted on 12 Feb 2020

BRUSSELS, Belgium, 12 February, 2020 – The Enefirst consortium has launched its first publication, which defines the principle of Efficiency First (E1st) in a way to make it operational. The 2.5-year project, funded under the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme for Research and Innovation, seeks to provide decision makers in Europe with concrete policy recommendations based on quantitative analysis and best practice mapping. The publication represents the consortium’s first step towards meeting its goal of embedding E1st across EU policy related to energy, buildings and related infrastructures

Efficiency first is of high political relevance

The aims of the project are of great political relevance given the current policy context in the EU. The  EU adopted efficiency first as a guiding principle in the Clean Energy for All (CE4All) package in 2018. To date, the concept has not been applied evenly for lack of clear definition and understanding of its practical implications. Even if rooted in more than 40 years of improving energy efficiency, this is still a recent development in policy making. Evidence-based implementation support to policymakers is thus of vital importance as the European Commission plans to roll out its “renovation wave” strategy for the buildings sector later this year, in the context of the EU Green Deal.

Providing a fair basis to compare demand and supply investments

The Enefirst consortium will help policy makers set a level playing field for both the demand and supply side, when comparing possible options for investment decisions related to energy. While the project focuses on energy end-uses in buildings, however, implementing E1st means considering the related impacts on energy systems such as electricity and gas networks or district heating.

Vlasis Oikonomou, Enefirst project coordinator and senior researcher at the Institute for European Energy and Climate Policy Foundation (IEECP), explains, “Efficiency first means weighing direct investments in energy-saving actions or demand-side measures against building new infrastructure or generation plants from a societal perspective; it requires a systemic approach.”

To do this, the consortium will assess and quantify the impacts of E1st on the European energy system through an economic analysis of total energy system costs, as well as a multi-criteria analysis focusing on trade-offs between end-use efficiency and network/supply investments. The Enefirst team will also analyse barriers and success factors of specific policy options for implementation in the EU building sector, resulting in concrete E1st policy recommendations.

Oikonomou continues, “Through this exercise, the Enefirst consortium is looking to solve a fundamental problem for policy makers, which is: how do we put efficiency first, in practice? Implementing the concept is a challenge because it requires us to re-think policy making and decision paths. We are excited to provide clear answers through Enefirst and contribute to ongoing discussions that will help the EU Green Deal deliver for Europeans.”

Download the full press release here

Download the first REPORT here – Defining and contextualizing the E1st principle