ENEFIRST reports and publications will be published over the lifetime of the project.

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Implementing Energy Efficiency First requires looking at the entire energy system and using an integrated approach for energy planning and investment. This means considering jointly the possible evolutions in the energy demand and supply to find the optimal balance which takes into account all societal benefits and risks, with a long-term perspective. Discover how to implement the EE1st principle through an integrated approach with a focus on energy planning and energy-related investments in our new infographic.

For more details about policy guidelines for integrated approaches, see the latest ENEFIRST report.

This report adds a holistic perspective to the concept of Energy Efficiency First (E1st) and provides guidelines to promote integrated approaches for implementing E1st across different policy areas within the energy system.

This contribution aims to break the silos in policymaking and implementation, with a focus on energy planning and investment schemes in the buildings and related energy sectors, where supply-side and demand-side options can be considered jointly to provide long-term benefits to society and the energy system as a whole.

The report also provides a targeted review of the Fit-for-55 package proposed by the Commission in July 2021, analysing the new or revised provisions that can be connected with the implementation of the E1st principle. It is complementary to the Recommendation and guidelines on Energy Efficiency First published by the European Commission in September 2021.

This report presents a methodological concept for a model-based analysis of the E1st principle for the EU-27. It describes the scope and objectives of this modelling approach, the scenarios developed and the models and assumptions used. It also discusses the added value and limitations of the approach. The implementation and results of these scenarios will be presented in subsequent reports of the ENEFIRST project.

The main objective of this energy system analysis is to investigate what level of demand and supply-side resources should be deployed to provide the greatest value to the EU’s society in transitioning to net-zero GHG emissions for the building sector by 2050. On the demand side, the analysis focuses on the resource option of end-use energy efficiency in buildings, investigating the contributions of thermal retrofits, efficient appliances, and other measures towards the net-zero target. On the supply side, the analysis quantifies the possible deployment and costs of various generation, network and storage options for the provision of electricity, district heat and gas products for the building sector.

The approach used is in line with the guidance for quantitative assessments of demand and supply side resources in the context of the Efficiency First principle, previously developed in the project.

The research in this report builds on the report ‘Priority areas for implementing Efficiency First’ which identified policy approaches for implementing the E1st principle in the policy areas of buildings and related energy systems (power sector and district heating) with the potential to be fully implemented across the EU.

This report analyses in three steps the barriers and success factors specific to nine of these policy approaches.

The first step was a systemic identification of barriers and success factors specific to each policy approach (the details of this step can be found in the Annex I).

The main factors hampering and enabling these E1st policies were then discussed in an expert consultation (minutes can be found in Annex II, and the presentation files on the workshop webpage).

The results are visualised in so-called ‘implementation maps’, which summarise the main barriers and possible solutions to the implementation of the E1st concept as well as the related legislative and non-legislative changes required. These implementation maps are presented altogether in this report. They can also be found separately here.

These analyses emphasise that adaptation of EU legislation is needed to overcome (some of) the barriers but that many institutional barriers require interventions by national and local authorities to enable capacity building and additional resources in regulatory agencies and implementing organisations to realise the concepts and policy approaches. The consultation with EU and national experts confirmed that more specific guidance is needed and that the implementation of the E1st principle also requires close cooperation between national and regional levels, especially in the buildings and district heating sectors where most decision-making takes place locally.

This report identifies promising policy approaches as regards Efficiency First (E1st) in several EU policy areas: buildings, power markets/networks, gas markets/networks, district heating, energy efficiency, climate, and EU funds.

The report screened the policy areas and approaches for each policy area by reviewing the EU policy context; conducting interviews and using the examples of existing implementation of the E1st principle; discussing the most important strategic and legislative documents where E1st is relevant. For each policy area, a selection of policy approaches to implement E1st is highlighted.

The objectives of the report are to facilitate the implementation process in Member States and to guide the next steps of the project including more detailed analyses about barriers and success factors specific to the selected policy approaches, as well as the development of policy guidelines.

This report provides modellers and policymakers with guidance on conceptual implications and on existing quantitative approaches for assessing demand and supply side resources in light of the Efficiency First (E1st) principle.

It identifies existing modelling approaches associated with the concept of E1st, distinguishing the normative and exploratory approaches and considering different levels of analysis: national, utility, and buildings. There is no universal model for representing E1st and each model-based assessment is nested in a trade-off between data needs and computational complexity versus robustness and credibility of the model outcomes.

Finally, the report discusses three challenges to modelling the trade-off between demand and supply side resources with respect to the E1st principle: (1) to capture a broad array of multiple impacts and to monetise them, where possible; (2) to apply social discount rates, unless a model aims to simulate actual technology adoption behaviour; (3) to ensure sufficient model detail to represent the true costs of supply-side resources and the value of demand-side flexibility options.”

The ENEFIRST project compiled and characterised a set of 16 case studies about international experiences with implementing the E1st principle. The objective of this report is to systematically assess to what extent the previously international experiences identified are transferable to the political and legal system of the European Union and its Member States.

A targeted literature review provided the basis for the framework to analyse the examples. It suggests that eight of the 16 experiences feature a high level of transferability, seven are found to feature a medium transferability and one is assessed with a low level of transferability.

In conclusion, policymakers in the EU and its Member States can certainly learn from their counterparts to establish a level playing field between demand and supply side resources and thus help embed the E1st principle. However, this reports also points out that embedding the E1st principle in the EU, and truly putting demand side resources on equal footing with supply side infrastructures in all relevant instances, will require a custom set of policy and regulatory instruments that go beyond fragmented international practices.

This report is focused on barriers to implementing “Efficiency First” (E1st) in the EU in several policy areas that are linked to energy use in the buildings sector (such as network codes, renewable energy policy, building regulations and others). These range from legal and regulatory, institutional and organisational capacity-related barriers, which consider the way that energy planning and policy operate including multilevel governance, to economic and social/cultural barriers (in relation to buildings, heating systems, etc.). The scope is deliberately wider than just buildings policy; for example, deciding whether to invest in energy network upgrades or demand-side responses is an application of the E1st principle that also relates to the building sector.

This report reviews examples of policies, regulatory frameworks, utility programmes or other initiatives that have implemented the Efficiency First (E1st) principle in practice. Its objective is to analyse why and how E1st has been implemented, and what lessons can be learned from these experiences. These examples also show policymakers, regulators and energy policy actors in general that the concept of E1st can be implemented and can provide various benefits to the energy transition.

This report reviews the background of this concept and existing definitions in order to draw a definition that can serve as a basis for the ENEFIRST project and its specific objectives, that is, making E1st operational for the building sector and related energy systems.