COGEN Europe today is calling on the industrialized countries meeting in Bonn to break the impasse created by their lack of progress. Europe and the developed economies must now tackle the overdue issue of their energy wastage and poor energy efficiency to demonstrate sincerity to the global community and to buy time for other technologies to mature.

According to Yvo de Boer, Head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, one of the most important issues in Bonn this week is how rich countries are going to show leadership to reduce their emissions.

Europe wastes a large amount of the energy it consumes. According to its own Action Plan for Energy Efficiency, over one-third is lost in transformation losses. Concerted focused action on energy efficiency must therefore be a basic first step to show the global community that attitudes to energy use in Europe have changed, says COGEN Europe.

It advocates a return to basics: focus on the whole energy supply chain and tackle the remaining issues. ‘There is mounting evidence that energy efficiency must be central to fighting climate change’ said Fiona Riddoch, Managing Director of COGEN Europe. ‘Cogeneration for example is a proven, reliable, cost-effective technology that is already making an important contribution to meeting global heat and electricity demand, but with increased political focus, much more could be done’.

The economic potential exists to double cogeneration in Europe from the existing 11% contribution to total electricity supplied to 22%. Achieving this objective will directly impact energy efficiency in the electricity generation sector where the need is greatest. Denmark, which has made energy efficiency a main pillar of its energy policy and uses cogeneration in 50% of its electricity supply, is a modern prosperous nation which has successfully decoupled energy consumption from economic growth. The Future COGEN study carried out by COGEN Europe showed that an additional 150 GWe of capacity remains to be exploited, more than enough to allow for the doubling of today’s installation level.

The European Commission has pushed hard for energy efficiency under the administration of Commissioner Piebalgs, but it has failed so far to gain real Member State momentum. In an assessment accompanying its second Strategic Energy Review (November 2008) the Commission highlighted that, on current progress, Europe will only achieve 13% reduction in energy use by 2020 rather than the 20% it targeted. The EU is now reviewing its 2006 Action Plan for Energy Efficiency seeking further measures to increase energy efficiency. ‘Europe moved renewables from being marginal technology to central stage’ said Fiona Riddoch ‘it must do the same for energy efficiency.’