The Danish presidency of the Council of Ministers says that the agreement reached last week by the Council and the European Parliament on the energy-efficiency directive (“Last-minute deal on energy efficiency”, EuropeanVoice.com, 14 June) will reduce energy consumption by 17% by 2020 – not the 20% that member states signed up to in March 2007.
It is not only in the broad, overarching picture that the directive falls short, but also in the specifics. The final text on metering and billing requirements, for example, lacks the ambition of the original proposal. What was passed last week will not do any harm, but is unlikely to be of much help either.
The text leaves a number of loopholes and does not lay the foundations for a smart grid, infrastructure that is indispensable if many of the EU's energy and environmental policy goals are to be met. For instance, the definition of smart metering is broad enough to mean almost anything that the member states want – or do not want.
If we are serious about delivering energy savings, energy meters will need to contribute towards energy efficiency. By not narrowing the definition, we risk installing electronic meters that do nothing other than read consumption and add little value to energy efficiency.
Many groups in Brussels, such as smart-metering and smart-grid co-ordination groups, as well as the European Commission's smart-grids taskforce, are striving to ensure that Europe, while already behind north America and parts of Asia in deploying smart grids, will have solid smart-metering systems in place upon which to build a smart grid, bringing direct benefits both to energy efficiency and consumers. Unfortunately, this directive represents a missed opportunity to help.