The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of FORESIGHT Climate & Energy
Citizens, businesses and local governments must join forces to equip themselves with facilities for the production and self-consumption of energy from renewable sources by promoting virtuous behaviours
Today, market transformation is happening in a very disruptive way. The historical events of the past six months demand an impressive acceleration of the trajectory outlined by the European Green Deal in 2019.
Looking back at the past eight years, global investments in clean energies have blossomed to $371 billion, an increase of approximately $60 billion compared to 2014 levels.
Is there enough to go around? The answer for most of us is simple: no.
The Ukraine conflict and its consequent war on prices are proving that our society does not have access to abundant, reliable, cheap and clean energy—placing its economic and social progress at stake.
But we still have a lucky coin in our pocket: energy efficiency measures can substantially reduce Europe’s carbon footprint if combined with consistent investments in renewable energy.
If renewables are the only reliable cost-effective source of electricity, energy efficiency itself can be considered a source of (saved) energy which can be adopted in a very short time.
For this to happen, it is key to experiment with new ways of assisting people through their journey towards electrification, digitalisation, a self-use of energy and more efficient consumption. These are necessary solutions which may seem complex but can improve our everyday life and are actually easy to use.
Households can thus save money on energy bills while at the same time being more sustainable. How much energy efficiency mixed with renewables can generate economic and environmental benefits, depends on our ability to innovate.
Consumers have many opportunities to make their homes both more efficient and sustainable. The instance where energy efficiency comes closest together with renewable energy is via heat pumps providing heating and cooling solutions.
Heat pumps can be up to four times more energy efficient than gas boilers. The renewable energy they harvest from the ambient air can deliver up to three times the energy they absorb from the grid.
Furthermore, its attractive role as an easy substitute for fossil fuel-dependent gas boilers has made it one of the centrepieces of the European Union’s RePowerEU Plan.
But these households need help with accessing this technology. These are only some of the reasons why heat pumps, and the smart heating and cooling potential they bring, play a central role throughout the utilities’ offering to the residential, commercial and industrial market.
Overall, we know that innovation in infrastructures and facilities can be an end in itself if not properly supported by investments in education and social awareness. This is true for public administrations as well as for private stakeholders.
Innovation therefore must be accompanied by a social wave of knowledge and learning. It is what is most urgent to make our lucky coin not just accessible to the market but enjoyed by everyone. Only with spread awareness of its great benefits, energy efficiency through renewables can be turned into a reality.
Citizens, businesses and local governments must join forces and seize the potential of a clean energy system, fully embracing energy efficiency and the production and self-consumption of energy from renewable sources. Everybody can play their part and promote virtuous behaviours which support the goal of climate neutrality.
The path to a sustainable Europe is clear, we just have to join forces and take that lucky coin out of our pockets. •
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As the wind blows, the sun shines, and green generation rises, demand is saturated. Market prices fall, but renewables are caught cannibilasing their own investment case. Special report part 1/3
Coal-reliant regions around the world have been generally resistant to the energy transition and regulators have tended to defend the status quo. But they are slowly starting to realise that clear plans and financial support for disrupted societies are more important
The IPCC highlights behavioural change as key to the energy transition, yet economics and modelling still tend to lead policy making rather than inputs from social sciences. Dealing with energy in conjunction with other policies such as health, education and employment could help to change this
The argument for natural gas as a bridge to a cleaner renewable future has grown weaker as the case for electrification as the most efficient way to decarbonise has grown
Denmark has led the way on decarbonisation of heating, with a rapid transition away from fossil fuels aided by its large scale adoption of heating networks over the past 40 years. Instead of exchanging individual heating appliances in every home and commercial building, the Danes are centrally converting their heat networks to renewable energy, saving citizens a pile of money in the process
The energy transition is not simply a matter of replacing fossil fuels with zero-carbon alternatives. It will also be marked by a radical change in our relationship with energy and the spread of technologies like heat pumps and electric vehicles that can yield significant efficiency gains even before traditional energy savings measures come into play
IEA boss Fatih Birol discusses the need and the tools for bettering the business case for renewable energy. Special report part 3/3
Poland has recorded the strongest growth in heat pump sales in Europe in 2021. This is the result of market certainty and customer incentives and shows the way for other states looking to heat pumps in decarbonisation efforts, says Monika Morawiecka and Jan Rosenow from the Regulatory Assistance Project