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Insight

How energy efficiency can ensure energy security

By Knauf Insulation
July 12, 2022

European leaders must focus on putting energy efficiency at the heart of policies to ensure the future-proof energy security that Europe needs.

This is the top-line message from Knauf Insulation as the Czech Republic takes over the rotating presidency of the European Council this month.

 

Quentin Galland, Knauf Insulation’s Group Public & Regulatory Affairs Director, said: “The Czech Presidency comes at a critical time for energy security in Europe. The European Union cannot be dependent on countries that threaten its security, and it is essential that the EU’s reliance on fossil fuel ends.

“The challenge of Member States is to ensure winter energy reserves are in place in the short-term through partnerships, while working on the long-term strategy that will reinforce Europe’s energy security.”

Quentin Galland-Jarrett, Knauf Insulation’s Group Public and Regulatory Affairs Director

Renovation is key to energy security

Like many countries reliant on Russian energy, Czechia’s leaders have been focused on resolving short-term energy issues to ensure the country’s gas reserves are robust enough to navigate the heating season.

“These are clearly challenging times in the short-term, but they must also be the new presidency’s spur to accelerate a long-term energy efficiency strategy. Europe’s buildings account for 36% of emissions and 40% of energy use, making them energy efficient must be the foundation stone of energy security, improving the living conditions of the 34 million that live in fuel poverty and, of course, Europe’s 2050 ambition to be the world’s first carbon neutral continent”, outlined Quentin.

The European Commission’s REpowerEU, which is designed to end the EU’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels as well as tackling the climate crisis, needs to put emphasis on building renovation.

Quentin said: “Simply insulating the attics and roofs of homes could save up to 14% of residential heating energy by 2030 which would result in annual energy savings of 26 billion cubic metres of gas or 16.8% of the EU’s imports from Russia.”

 

Energy efficiency is an essential first step

“Czechia has experience of successfully creating mass renovation schemes using revenue from the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme that has allowed 60,000 Czech families to renovate their homes, install solar panels and change their heat source since 2015. In Czechia, insulating homes could save 49% of the energy required to heat them — the equivalent of saving 53% of the gas used to heat and cool all the country’s buildings”, outlined Ondrej Šrámek, Corporate Affairs Director for Knauf Insulation Eastern Europe.

“The success of this national programme should be an inspiration to Europe, particularly in the light of the proposal to introduce an Emissions Trading System for building fuel. Money from this system must be channelled into the decarbonisation of buildings, for example, by building and supporting commercial and public one-stop renovation services.”

Ondrej Sramek.png

Knauf Insulation has always campaigned to put energy efficiency first from the transition to renewables to the practical specifics of introducing, for example, heat pumps.

“However, we have to get the sequence right, create highly energy efficient buildings first, and use maximum renewables on them. Our target should be positive energy so that the excess of renewable energy can be used in other sectors, such as industry”, said Ondrej.

 

Renovation must be simple to activate

The revision of the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) is an opportunity to be ambitious in terms of increasing building renovation rates. At present only 1% of buildings are renovated every year and Knauf Insulation has consistently called for this rate to triple.

The EED calls for the annual renovation of 3% of all public buildings owned by central government, but this is not enough. Every public building whether owned by a town, city, municipality or region should be subject to deep renovation.

Meanwhile, the recent revision of the Energy Performance of Building Directive (EPBD) calls for 60 million buildings with the lowest energy rating of F or G to be upgraded by 2033.

This is a massive task and to ensure these renovations achieve meaningful results in terms of energy savings and decarbonisation it is important to focus on quality and to make the entire process of renovation as easy as possible.

Knauf Energy Solutions has been carrying out mass renovations for a wide range of social housing associations across Europe offering a service that assesses energy performance, provides the solutions to significantly improve this performance and the technology that demonstrates the extent to which savings have been made.

Quentin said: “Europe needs stability and agility in these ever-changing times. The agility to manage the short-term challenge of winter energy and the stability to define future energy security. The new Czech Presidency has a difficult job ahead, but by making energy efficiency the bedrock of energy policy we are confident the foundations for a better future will be in place.”

 

Picture in the header: Freepik.com