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09 September 2010

EU's next energy savings plan to focus on buildings

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Buildings will be at the centre of the EU's new energy savings plan, which the European Commission plans to present by the end of the year, the EU energy commissioner has said
Commissioner Günther Oettinger told journalists after an informal meeting of European energy ministers on Tuesday (7 September) that he would bring out the much delayed new Energy Efficiency Action Plan this year.

The review of the plan was originally on the previous Commission's agenda before being deferred to the new executive. The commissioner gauged ministers' expectations over a lunchtime discussion.

To achieve the action plan's objective of making energy savings of 20% by 2020, the EU will first have to agree on what every member state and every sector must contribute towards the goal, Oettinger said. Tuesday's debate already touched upon some sectors with high potential for energy savings, and ministers agreed buildings would be the most important contributor, he added.

"On energy efficiency, there still are a lot of goals to be met and there are even still goals to be set," said Freya Van den Bossche, the Flemish government's minister for energy, who chaired the debate. She argued that the EU would not be able to meet its 2020 goal without taking new measures.

Such new measures could include legally binding efficiency targets for each member state in the manner of the Renewable Energy Directive. But such binding obligations are expected to be scrapped from the draft plan as Oettinger said he would only propose binding action if the current voluntary goal proves insufficient in the next few years.

The ministers identified technological innovation and the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan as key elements in becoming world leaders in technology. They also mentioned a network of smart cities, which had already been identified in the previous draft plan as a way to pioneer new technologies.


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