EU energy efficiency plan could widen CERT

UK could be required to introduce tradable energy savings certificates for energy suppliers

The UK’s Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) and its successor obligations on energy utilities to improve the energy efficiency of their customers may need to be expanded in line with proposed changes to the EU’s 2006 Energy Efficiency Action Plan, according to a leaked document seen by ENDS.

The leaked European Commission draft action plan, dated 26 January, notes the success of supplier obligations in France and Italy. Here, energy suppliers or distributors are required to deliver a fixed level of savings from their customers, including householders, companies, municipalities and housing associations. It proposes that these formal national obligations should be rolled out for all member states as part of its effort to address widespread failure towards meeting its voluntary 20% energy efficiency target for 2020 relative to business as usual (ENDS Report, February 2011).

The draft action plan could require the UK to extend the scope of CERT and related schemes – which focuses entirely on households - to other sectors such as energy generation and transport.

Another key proposal that could affect CERT is the introduction of independently verified ‘white certificates’ for energy savings achieved that could be traded between suppliers.

In the UK there is no formal certified white certificate regime in place enabling savings achieved through one supplier to be sold to another. But there are already informal trades made between energy utilities, Pedro Guertler, head of research at the Association for the Conservation of Energy told ENDS. White certificates are not a new concept, having been discussed as an option in 2006, but have not been formally proposed at EU level until now.

Moving to a formal, EU-wide system of member state obligations would “significantly widen the market availability of energy services and could yield estimated savings of up to 100 million tonnes of oil equivalent in 2020”, the draft concludes.

The new Energy Efficiency Action Plan, to be unveiled on 7 March, will be followed by a recast of the 2006 End-use Efficiency and Energy Services Directive in the late summer. The 2006 directive called for a minimum 9% improvement in energy efficiency over the life of the measure to 2016 and a wide range of other measures including public sector procurement, but its implementation has been patchy.

Mr Guertler stressed that energy efficiency policy has been hampered by a lack of comparable performance data between member states, which is one reason for their successful opposition to a mandatory 20% EU target. He added that while the forthcoming recast directive and new action plan are welcome, had the original directive been complied with many of these measures would not be necessary. “The commission is losing its credibility on this,” he said.

The commission draft also proposes that public authorities be required to refurbish at least 2% of their buildings by area each year – twice the current rate. And it calls for combined heat and power generation to be given priority access to the grid.

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