Éditoriaux de l'Ifri Édito Énergie

Energy Efficiency: The Commission's Complicated Calculations The Energy Editorial, March 2011

Who hasn’t heard of the 3x20, those pillars of European energy policy? And yet who is able to give their exact definition?

Efficacité énergétique : les calculs compliqués de la Commission

Recently, the Commission announced that current efforts are insufficient to achieve the third goal, concerning the improvement in energy efficiency.

How is it calculated? From 1990, as is generally thought? Wrong. The Commission is basing its target on 2005. Using the PRIMES baseline scenario, it estimated in 2007 that the EU"s primary energy consumption in 2020 would be 1968 million TOE. This scenario presumes:

• An annual 2.2% economic growth rate from 2005 to 2020,
• Reductions in energy consumption due to the effects of prices, structural changes and already-adopted measures.

These reductions are estimated at 1.8% per year throughout the period, which is divided between the impact of structural changes (0.6%), the effects of existing policies (0.35%) and independent progress in efficiency (0.85%). Moreover, the 2020 estimate already takes into account the 470 million TOE energy consumption reductions resulting from the drop in industrial activity in former Soviet Bloc members of the EU and the more efficient subsequent growth.

It is from the figure of 1968 million TOE which the Commission deducts a deliberate proportion of 20%, that is roughly 390 million TOE. The objective to achieve in 2020 now amounts to about 1575 million TOE.

Then the crisis arrived, and with it the plummet in growth. PRIMES reconsidered the 2020 forecast taking into account measures taken up to 2009 and fixed it at 1781 million TOE. Conclusion: We are still 204 million TOE short of achieving the much talked-about 1575.

More effort, Europeans. The crisis alone did not accomplish enough, it was still necessary to put into place the supplementary regulations required by the Commission.

These calculations can only create unrest. In fact, the only important objective for the struggle against climate change is the absolute reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. We have obligations towards humanity, but it is absolutely not necessary to break ourselves in fulfilling them. And let us place more trust in the prices (including that of carbon) and in the behaviour of economic agents.

European Energy Policy