REPowerEU Energy Saving Plan: Time to switch to action

This briefing argues that energy in buildings must be a priority in the REPowerEU Action Plan. It lists measures that can deliver energy savings in the next 18 months while putting the EU on a path compatible with its climate targets. The briefing suggests delivery approaches to operationalise the implementation of the measures as decisions should be taken quickly, and actions implemented without delay.

With the invasion of Ukraine by Russia and the outbreak of war at the end of February 2022, the situation in the EU has dramatically changed from many perspectives. Many countries in Europe import significant amounts of fossil fuels from Russia, supporting its economy. In response to the emergencies in the energy sector, on 8 March the European Commission published its REPowerEU Communication for joint European action for more affordable, secure and sustainable energy. It aims to outline a path for the EU to decrease its reliance on Russian fossil fuels by focusing on securing access to energy, whether from renewable sources or fossil fuels from suppliers other than Russia.

As follow up document to the earlier REPowerEU Communication, the Commission is expected to issue the REPowerEU Action Plan, which would include a specific energy savings action plan. The EU has a historic choice to make: to put us on a pathway compatible with the 1.5°C climate scenario and secure true energy independence, or simply cushion the crisis today with quick fixes that will condemn us to a future where we have no choice anymore and where climate change is a daily emergency.  

This briefing argues that the best way to decrease the EU’s energy dependency is to reduce energy consumption, especially in buildings. The sector is responsible for about 40% of the EU’s total energy consumption.

But what exactly must we do, and how do we do it?

Based on existing BPIE analysis as well as a review of publications on the topic, this briefing lists a number of measures that can deliver energy savings in the next 18 months while putting the EU on a path compatible with its climate targets.

These measures are specifically broken down into two overarching sections, focusing on ‘quick fixes’ and long term changes that together can rapidly ramp up building decarbonisation and alleviate Europe’s dependency on fossil fuels.

The short-term measures are divided into three different ‘clusters’ of policies and measures. The first cluster focuses on behavioural changes and ‘quick fixes’ that can be taken immediately and scaled at EU level. The second cluster argues for fast rollout of renovation programmes, including energy management systems, insulation of attics and roofs and scaling up serial renovation programmes. The third cluster pushes for a fast switch to renewable heating options

The longer-term measures are broken down into four clusters. First, the European Commission must show greater leadership and this can be done by creating a building renovation task force that is dedicated entirely to overseeing the actions take place. The second cluster focuses on communication and outreach, and ultimately, telling a different narrative to the public about renovation, ensuring that information about what is possible and available resources are transparent and become common knowledge. The third cluster focuses on financing and making it easily available and accessible, with a particular focus on those who need it most. Finally, the fourth cluster provides practical ideas on how to prepare the supply chain to deliver and implement renovation programmes, and upskill and grow the workforce.

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