Energy efficiency savings of €250 billion per year by 2030 are up for grabs in the European Union (EU) if there is a 35% reduction below 2005 levels, according to a new report commissioned by environmental pressure groups.
The report, Saving Energy, estimates the EU will save a further €200 billion annually, if it meets a voluntary 2020 target of using 20% less energy than projected in 2005. This is roughly equivalent to the annual gross domestic product of Denmark, but the bloc is on track only for 17% energy savings by 2020, according to data in an EU orientation briefing paper, according to the website EurActiv.
The report was produced by the Ecofys energy consultancy and commissioned by Friends of the Earth Europe and the Climate Action Network. It highlights three key benefits of energy efficiency: cost-reductions for industry and consumers, employment boosts, and breaking fossil fuel dependency.
Energy savings can reduce energy and electricity prices by reducing demand, so increasing the frequency with which cheaper fuels determine marginal costs, reducing variable and fixed costs, and avoiding infrastructure investments that are no longer needed.
A saving of just 6% on Europe’s natural gas consumption would obviate the need for the proposed Nabucco pipeline project, slated to bring gas from the world’s richest gas regions – the Caspian region and Middle East – at a cost of €12-€15 billion, according to Ecofys. “In a business-as-usual scenario energy consumption will increase by 12% from 2005 to 2020,” the report says. “Overall import dependency may reach 66% in 2020, compared to 53% in 2010.”