The Directive on Energy End-Use Efficiency and Energy Services (2006/32/EC), often called just the 'Energy Services Directive' (ESD) was adopted by the European Council in March 2006. It is intended to encourage energy efficiency via the delivery of energy efficiency programmes and measures to end users, and the development of a market for energy services. As such it addresses actors, institutions and market functioning rather than specific technologies. Most forms of energy sold to end users, including transport fuels, are covered.

The Directive sets an indicative target for each Member State to achieve minimum annual energy savings of 9% over the period from 2008 to 2016. Governments had to produce a national energy efficiency action plan (NEEAP) in 2007 setting out how they would reach their targets, and follow-up NEEAPs reporting on what has been achieved will have to be produced in 2011 and 2014.
Member States are also required by the Directive to place energy efficiency obligations on energy distributors and retailers, be those direct involvement in efficiency activities or contribution to funds for this purpose. The use of ‘white certificate’ schemes to fulfil these obligations (whereby activities carried out by another actor may be purchased by a company instead of them actually undertaking activities themselves) is permitted. Besides energy companies, the Directive also specifically addresses public sector organizations, who are supposed to incorporate energy efficiency criteria into their product purchasing and investment decisions.

While the ESD in principle filled in some useful gaps in thepreviously existing efficiency legislation, CAN-Europe believes that it has notproved to be a very useful piece of legislation. It is the nearest the EU hasin terms of a Directive to operationalise its 20% energy saving target, yet itis oddly conceived in this respect too: its targets are for 2016 rather than2020, of a level not commensurate with the -20% by 2020 overall EU target, andrefer to final energy consumption (i.e. excluding energy delivered to theconversion sector) whereas the 20% target refers to primary energy (grossinland consumption). Moreover no adequate methodology was provided by theCommission for measuring and verifying energy savings.

Meanwhile, the Directive is highly discretionary to Member States, so its effectiveness is very dependent on the ambition employed in its implementation. Unfortunately in most cases this has not been very high, as shown by a report produced by a cross-sectoral platform called the Energy Efficiency Watch.

For these reasons, CAN-Europe would like to see a full revision or preferably replacement of the Directive, and are calling for this to be included in the new EEAP. Whatever form the replacement legislation takes, it should place much clearer obligations on power utilities to both deliver end-use efficiency services and to improve their own efficiency.

See also the website of the European Council for an Energy Efficient economy (eceee) for further information and views on the ESD.

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