The European Commission has published a new EU Energy Security and Solidarity Action Plan, which among other things sets out a strategy to increase the contribution CHP makes to Europe's energy supplies.
Among other key points on the action plan is a call for additional and more urgent efforts to improve energy efficiency and, to this end, the Commission has adopted guidelines to enable the wider uptake of cogeneration.
Detailed guidelines which clarify the procedures and definitions for determining the quantity of electricity generated from cogeneration have been adopted by the Commission. They indicate when guarantees of origin of electricity can be issued and support schemes allowed. The guidelines also provide legal certainty to the energy market, removing investment barriers.
For the near future, the communication suggests actions to ensure that cogeneration is taken into consideration as an element of the National Energy Efficiency Action Plans. Access to distribution grids for electricity produced from cogeneration should also become easier, the Commission adds.
An evaluation of the available reports from Member States on the application of the Cogeneration Directive (2004/8/EC) is also included in the document.
Of five areas identified where more action is needed to secure sustainable energy supplies, the first priority in the second Strategic Energy Review (SER) is to rapidly implement measures to reach a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and a 20% saving in future energy demand by 2020. Along with a 20% renewables contribution these are the central planks of the so-called 20-20-20 climate change proposals, which should be agreed by December.
The Commission says CHP contributes about 2% towards the 20% annual primary energy savings objective for 2020.
Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs highlighted the opportunities for new investment, cost savings and jobs, saying: 'The EU has come together as never before to deal with climate change, high energy prices and energy security. But we have to do more, be more ambitious, and be even bolder to avoid the risk of energy disruption in the future. This means investment. Investing in energy, including energy efficiency, means giving our economy the push it needs at this uncertain time.'
In 2009, the Commission also plans a thorough evaluation of the 2006 European Action Plan for Energy Efficiency.
However, responding to the SER, Greenpeace argues that the Commission had downgraded the importance of energy efficiency. Frauke Thies, Greenpeace EU renewables policy campaigner, said: 'The Commission has yet again missed the chance to take a bold step forward on energy efficiency – the backbone of any secure and sustainable energy supply system. The review of existing efficiency legislation may bring marginal improvements, but the Commission has shied away from the most obvious and simple solution – to make the EU's 20% efficiency target binding.'