Why energy efficiency means technological innovation?
22 of September of 2015
To many, the following statement comes as a surprise: energy efficiency means technological innovation. However, being in the market requires the best conditions possible in order to compete, and this depends on the combination of three policies: knowledge of technology, efficiency in the use of resources and innovation in all production processes. Energy efficiency is a factor of competitiveness, since it brings together all of these characteristics, which must become associated with a strategy of re-industrialization that is based on more competitive products – given their lower energy costs – with a growing market demand.
Technological innovation is the added value that turns energy efficiency into a factor of competitiveness. It is included as such among Eurostat’s indicators and makes energy a key element in the change of the productive and energy models through energy saving technologies.
Energy efficiency as a factor of competitiveness seeks to realize the transition from a high consumption and resource dependency based model in which one must buy from abroad to another whose priority is reducing at the same time the energy required for producing goods and services and contaminant emissions to the atmosphere.
In such a context, there are numerous reasons for investing in energy efficiency and micro-generation technologies that can generate many other opportunities, while shaping a market for energy services. The main reason is linked to the social and the business sector’s acceptance of renewables and energy efficiency, according to which 80% of consumers are in favor of renewable energy and 83% of Spanish businessmen identify cost reductions through energy efficiency and waste management as being the two main CSR initiatives that their companies conduct ( Grant Thornton report on CSR). A new consumer profile is emerging that is more demanding with respect to energy costs and the need to manage its own energy demand.
In addition, data on recorded energy certifications reveal that 95% of existing buildings do not comply with basic energy savings requirements and that 9.3 million buildings need energy retrofitting. The potential for energy savings between the maximum (A) and the minimum (G) energy ratings is 80%, representing annual savings of about 9 billion €.
We must also not forget that Spain has a high energy dependency, 20 points higher than Europe’s average, and primary oil consumption exceeds that of the EU’s by 10 points. The dependency on Algeria’s gas supply reached 56% in 2014. Spain’s greatest energy challenge is reducing its hydrocarbon dependency.
The good news come from the European Union’s Structural Funds, since for the 2014-2020 period Spain’s agreement with the EU establishes a funding commitment amounting to 36.450 billion euros. One of its priorities is reducing energy consumption in buildings and businesses and reducing the primary energy consumption by 20%. Twenty-two percent of the total provisions must be allocated to objectives linked to the fight against climate change. Five per cent of the 19.408 billion euros from ERDF will be invested in comprehensive actions geared at integrated and sustainable urban development. Programs destined to low-carbon economy, adaptation to climate change and resource efficiency amount to 10.4 billion, which apply to investments in energy efficiency for buildings and transportation. European funds will be used to support the financing of projects rather than direct subsidies, and comprehensive energy efficiency projects will be prioritized, which are those that tackle several objectives falling under one single sustainable urban strategy.
There is a market for energy efficiency. Now we must create a demand for energy efficiency products and specific financial products through public-private collaboration for the use of European funds and develop energy management further in the urban and industrial space.
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