Innovation in materials: Key to European energy security

Over the past months, with Europe’s regional environment suffering instability and Member States defining new climate and energy targets, energy policy has raised to one of the European Union’s priorities. From the 2030 Climate and Energy package to the ‘genesis’ of the Energy Union under the new Commission, all eyes are on energy. As expected, thanks to its potential, energy efficiency in buildings receives its share of the spotlight.

Energy efficiency: A fundamental dimension of the ‘new’ Energy Union

When presenting his Energy Union, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker emphasized commitment to promote energy efficiency. This dimension of the Energy Union reveals that Europe intends to solve its energy security challenges by doing more that ensuring security of supply. As pointed out by the European Commission Vice President in charge of Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič, while “the European Union imports more than half of all the energy it consumes” there is a need to invest in the buildings sector.

Energy efficiency under the Energy Union follows EU’s 2030 Climate and Energy ambition to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Ahead of the publication of the Communication on the Energy Union to be published on 25 February 2015, a leaked version underlined that the Commission intends to set up a communications strategy on the benefits and necessity of energy efficiency to the public in cooperation with Member States. The document also hinted to a legislative proposal to meet the 2030 energy efficiency target, based on a revision of the Energy Efficiency Directive and the Performance of Buildings Directive.

European Parliament: A valuable ally to energy efficiency

At the same time, the European Parliament has been active on establishing a strong relationship between energy security and energy efficiency. More specifically, on February 3 the European Parliament Industry Committee (ITRE) published the amendments to the draft report on European Energy Security. The 821 amendments submitted demonstrate that the issue of energy security has received particular attention in the Parliament. A significant number of MEPs underlined that the impact of energy efficiency would be favourable both from an internal and external perspective, leading to lower energy prices and reducing the need for imports.

The European Parliament Environment (ENVI) Committee also published a list of amendments. Promoting energy efficiency was one of the recurrent themes demonstrating the Parliament’s positive stance towards developing comprehensive regulation on the issue. Energy efficiency in buildings emerged as the MEPs’ first priority creating a call for additional advocacy towards the European Parliament.

While MEPs and the Commission have not agreed yet on how to materialise energy efficiency objectives, there appears to be a consensus over revising and enhancing the provisions on European Energy Efficiency and Energy Performance of Buildings Directives. While no proposal is expected to be put on the table until the end of the year, stakeholders have become increasingly active in order to give energy efficiency in buildings the clout it deserves.

Buildings renovation: A necessary step to energy security

Buildings renovation, notably encompassing improved insulation, plays a significant role in the search for a more efficient and independent Europe. Better building insulation leads to reduced needs in energy. Thus, not only does it help limit the need for external energy supply and supplier, but it also enables the effective preservation of the environment and its natural resources.

Improved insulation is also the key to savings on the consumer’s and the government’s side. While energy poverty has been affecting a significant part of households in Europe better insulation can enable more Europeans to enjoy the comfort of a warm home, no matter their levels of income.

Polyurethanes for a more sustainable Europe

One of the key materials for building insulation, polyurethane is pivotal to the achievement of a more energy efficient and sustainable Europe. Insulating and renovating new and older buildings with the appropriate polyurethane rigid foam can help European governments save significant financial and natural resources.

All in all, Europe’s climate and energy ambition reminds us of how crucial energy efficiency is to the Europe’s future: enhancing its energy independence, preserving its resources and ensuring its population well-being. In making this future a reality, polyurethane becomes an indispensable material enabling for the warmer homes and happier Europeans.

For more insights on how the energy policy debate is unfolding on a European level and the benefits of polyurethanes for our everyday lives, visit our website or connect with us on Twitter  to share your own ideas and opinions.

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