On 28 November 2018, policymakers and industry gathered at the Committee of the Regions for the High-Level Round Table on the Decarbonisation of the Heating Sector, a joint event organised by the European Commission and the Decarb Heat Initiative partners. The timing is right: on the very same day that the European Commission launched its Long-term Emissions Reduction Strategy, the topic of decarbonising heat received the attention it deserves. Being responsible for 50% of final energy consumption in Europe, addressing heat will be paramount for reaching a net-zero emissions economy by 2050 and needs therefore to become a policy priority for the EU.
Policymakers from across Europe came to Brussels with the following common messages:
- We must acknowledge the importance of heating and cooling (H&C) for the decarbonisation of our energy system.
- Making our buildings energy efficient will not be enough, we must decarbonise their heat and cooling supply as well.
- We must speed and scale up our efforts to better integrate the already available technologies.
- Action at the regional and local level with support from local communities is key to achieving a carbon neutral, efficient European H&C sector by 2050.
In his opening speech, Dominique Ristori, Director-General for Energy at the European Commission, outlined that “the heating and cooling sector represents the largest source of energy demand in Europe. Our present system is often inefficient, polluting and based on old technologies. Making it smart, modern, clean and performant is instrumental for global decarbonisation and will be beneficial for our economy and all Europeans.”
On decarbonisation, Danish Member of the European Parliament for the EPP group, rapporteur for the European Performance of Buildings Directive, Bendt Bendtsen stated: “Unfortunately, most national ministries see energy efficiency as an expenditure, not an investment.” He added: “Getting out of fossil fuels is pure politics – we still have politicians asking for supporting coal mines… in 2018! But I am positive that renewable energy sources will soon be much cheaper than today and will make much more sense for the heating sector.”
Paul Voss, Managing Director at Euroheat & Power and convenor of the Decarb Heat Initiative, was delighted that the event enjoyed great attendance and concluded: “Acknowledging the importance of the heating and cooling sector within the broader energy transition is a useful beginning but it is no longer enough. In light of the high stakes and the urgency of the situation, we need more and faster progress on the ground starting immediately. This means relying on proven technologies that are already available and establishing a legal framework that supports their development.”
Source: Euroheat & Power