Buildings will be critical in delivering an ambitious European Green Deal and putting Europe on a sustainable recovery path after the COVID-19 crisis. A successful Renovation Wave calls for a holistic approach to buildings renovation, putting energy efficiency first and unlocking system integration opportunities. The needs of both the consumer and the energy system as a whole must be considered in order to deliver a timely and cost-effective transformation of the building stock aligned with the Paris Agreement goals.
Buildings represent more than 30% of emissions and energy consumption in the European Union (EU). Heating and cooling make up 80% of energy use in buildings and have a significant impact energy on energy poverty. More than 75% of buildings are inefficient, because of a leaky building envelope, the use of old and inefficient heating systems or both. In addition, 90% of the existing building stock will still be standing in 2050. No single solution will be sufficient to tackle this enormous challenge. Energy efficiency, renewable energy, clean electrification, high efficiency cogeneration and district heating, all have a role to play.
Europe must step up the ambition and implementation for more efficient, resilient, integrated, cleaner and affordable energy in buildings. Speaking in a joint Covenant of Mayors, CEDEC & COGEN Europe EUSEW event, Mr. Cristian Bușoi, Member of the European Parliament and Chair of the Industry Research and Energy Committee (ITRE), stressed the importance of the Renovation Wave and called for priority to be given to energy efficiency in heating & cooling the sector. Mr. Bușoi explained that this means “renovation of the existing building stock and the construction of new facilities following the principles of nearly zero energy buildings, but also reducing primary energy consumption on the supply side.” Watch video HERE.
Given the high-level political backing for an impactful Renovation Wave, the industry is committed to deliver on this ambition. This can be done by accelerating the uptake of available technologies. Cogeneration, in or near buildings, is uniquely placed to enable an ambitious Renovation Wave, as part of a cost-effective and customer-centered mix of buildings solutions. Cogeneration delivers more than 70% of the heat supplied through district heating. Modern high-efficiency cogeneration with district heating can lower the carbon emissions of a city like Kiel by 70% while supplying flexible electricity locally to support the grids1. Fuel cell micro-cogeneration installed in homes and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can empower consumers to produce their own clean and flexible electricity – a perfect fit for owners of electric vehicles. Cogeneration contributes to the power system adequacy, supplying efficient electricity at times of high power demand from heat pumps or low wind and sun, which is a win-win for both consumers and the local power grids alike2. Cogeneration in the building sector is also increasingly supporting the integration of renewable energy sources3, ensuring these valuable resources are not wasted.
The Renovation Wave presents significant opportunities to re-launch the EU economy, help Europe meet its Paris Agreement commitments, bring cleaner air to citizens and foster healthier and more comfortable environments to live in. Energy efficiency and local integrated planning, unlocking the benefits of cogeneration, should be the drivers of the Renovation Wave.