Getting the Primary Energy Factor (EU PEF) right!

Primary Energy Factors (PEFs) are used for different purposes in energy policy at EU and national levels: as a conversion factor to relate final energy use to primary energy consumption, to define and compare the efficiency of devices using different energy carriers/sources and their potential energy savings, as well as to assess the energy performance of buildings.

COGEN EUROPE’s key recommendations on EU Primary Energy Factor in the context of the Energy Efficiency Directive Review:

  • Apply a robust and transparent methodology for the average default EU electricity Primary Energy Factor (PEF) value, reflecting the current efficiency of the EU electricity mix
  • Set an EU-wide average PEF default value of no less than 2.3, based on current data only to be applied in the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED)
  • Outside the EED provide for a dedicated process to determine the adequate, likely closer to 2.8, PEF for the heating sector (relevant for the EPBD, Energy Labelling and Ecodesign), taking into account the seasonality of heat consumption and system wide impact of electrification of heat

Getting the methodology right for an average annual PEF in Energy Efficiency Directive

As part of the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) revision in the Clean Energy Package, the European Commission has proposed to lower the PEF value from 2.5 to 2.0 (EED Annex IV footnote 4), which is equivalent to an increase in the average efficiency of the electricity system from 40% to 50%. This significant change is only partly explained by real improvements in the efficiency of the electricity system. Re-calculating the PEF using a robust methodology, shows that 2.0 is unreasonably low and does not reflect the current efficiency of the electricity system.

The case for a marginal/seasonal PEF for heating

An increasing use of electrical heating appliances in homes and businesses, leading to an increased (marginal) demand which is nearly always met by less efficient, more energy intensive and more polluting central electricity generation.

The Research Center for Energy Economics (FfE), published a study on the Primary Energy Factor (PEF) for electricity and the corresponding CO2 Equivalent Emission Factor (CEEF) applicable to technologies coupling heat and electricity sectors. According to the study, commissioned by COGEN Europe, the additional electricity demand from sectors subject to electrification will rely less on renewable electricity and more on fossil fuel generation, compared to the average electricity mix. The PEF associated with the displacement mix (simplified marginal mix) is estimated to be 2.81 for EU 28. Read COGEN Europe's presentation on PEFs and their unintended consequences.

Based on the study, European renewable and efficient heat industry associations (AEBIOM, COGEN Europe, EFIEES, EGEC and EHP) call for a dedicated EU PEF approach for calculating the real efficiency of heating systems, which use or produce electricity, in order to inform energy consumers correctly and help deliver the EU energy and climate objectives.

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