EU Heating and Cooling Strategy

On 16 February the Commission launched its first strategy to tackle the use of energy in the heating and cooling sector. Heating and cooling accounts for 50% of the EU’s energy consumption and renewables account for just 18% of this. The strategy includes plans to boost the energy efficiency of buildings, improve linkages between electricity systems and district heating systems which will greatly increase the use of renewable energy, and encourage reuse of waste heat and cold generated by industry. It is part of the Commission’s Energy Union Strategy, launched one year ago, and aims to reduce energy demand and better manage supplies from external sources.

“Heating and cooling” refers to the energy needed for warming and cooling buildings, as well as energy used in industrial processes for products and cooling and refrigeration in the retail sector. Europe’s building stock includes many old buildings, almost half of the EU’s buildings have boilers which were installed before 1992, with an efficiency rate of below 60%. Although the renovation of existing buildings could lead to lower energy consumption, the current refurbishment rate is below 1%. Renewables are not widely used in the sector and much energy is wasted.

To address this situation the strategy includes actions:
  • Making renovating buildings easier:
    - developing a toolbox of measures to ease the renovation of multi-apartment buildings;
    - improving cost-sharing: allowing tenants and owners to benefit from the investment spent to renovate old buildings and apartment or change old heating systems;
    - promoting energy efficiency models: providing energy efficiency models for public schools and hospitals;
    - strengthening reliability of energy performance certificates: which will be assessed in the upcoming review of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.
  • Increasing the share of renewables.
  •  Reusing energy waste from industry.
  • Getting consumers and industries involved.

The intention is that the implementation of the strategy will benefit EU citizens and workers. The EU has set a 20% renewable energy target by 2020 which will be reached only if current EU legislation on energy efficiency is fully implemented. Heating and cooling has a key role in ensuring that the EU’s energy efficiency and renewable energy targets are met. In the long-tem, Europe wants to decarbonise its building stock by 2050, CO2 emissions would be reduced by 30%. Actions to be taken to promote the transition towards a low-carbon heating and cooling system include legislative measures such as the review of the Energy Efficiency Directive, Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and the Smart Financing for Smart Buildings Initiative in 2016, and non-legislative actions such as the toolbox of measures to facilitate renovation mentioned above and the extension of the BUILD UP skills campaign to improve training for building professionals.

More information about the Heating and Cooling Strategy is available at .