Energy Efficiency as primary energy resource for the European Union

Energy Efficiency (EE) has been broadly accepted as primary energy resource for the European Union because it is competitive, cost effective, and widely available. However, at present, insufficient public and private investment is flowing into energy efficiency: if this trend continues, then EU Member States are at risk of missing their 2020 and longerterm EE targets. Financial barriers are commonly reported as the main obstacle for realizing the full potential of energy efficiency projects.

This is especially true for the tertiary sector (hospitality, tourism, healthcare, services, etc.), which often presents a high potential for energy efficiency. Unfortunately, budget limitations in combination with the current economic stagnation, often block the realization of energy saving measures. The tertiary sector in Europe is therefore a good example of a field that lacks of investments: although energy consumption in the services sector has decreased globally since 2003, in southern European countries an increasing trend in electricity consumption has been verified, in parallel with the raise of electricity prices.

Moreover, Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) projects are rare in the tertiary sector of southern European countries since there are many key market development barriers such as:

  • Difficult access to financing for EPC providers due to limited investors’ confidence.
  • Scarce demand due to insufficient knowledge of the EPC model and scarcity of flagship projects.
  • Lack of certification schemes and financing mechanisms for EPC projects.
  • Insufficient support from national policy and regulation.