Energy Efficiency: Keeping with the times
The extensive review process of the energy efficiency label allows it to remain in step with a rapidly changing world, but there is more work to be done, explains Dario Tamburrano.
Dario Tamburrano | Photo Credit: European Parliament Audiovisual
The energy efficiency label for energy-consuming devices, such as dishwashers and televisions, was one of my first legislative journeys.
I had the honour of leading the position and work of the European Parliament on this. The extensive review process of this important document ended with a promising agreement, which allows it to remain in line with a rapidly advancing world, at least from a technological point of view.
Its appearance remains the same, but its functionality has increased significantly because the “+” signs have disappeared and the different scales of energy efficiency have been standardised. A database will also be available for all to access – this will not only help supervisory authorities improve their monitoring and supervisory activities, but it will most importantly be useful to citizens.
It can also be helpful to those conducting market research, to develop technical aspects and improve transparency.
Unfortunately, we will only see the new “label 2.0” displayed in stores as of April 2021. This was not what we requested in our attempt to bring some order to a market in which different ratings exist, which can distort information about the actual energy savings of more efficient products.
The database became operational this year and will be updated with data on all labelled products launched or currently available on the European market, providing detailed information in a clear format.
I jumped through every hoop, so to speak, during the negotiations to ensure that the label was able to accommodate, where suitable, the important introduction of ‘smartness’, for which a special symbol will be designed.
I was most satisfied when, during a lunch organised with the heating industry players, I learnt that both the industry and the European Commission are in open discussions on how to proceed with these new functions.
It goes without saying that the obstacles go far beyond the single product that can be as smart as you want but must nevertheless engage with an energy system which is not yet ready to embrace hyper-connectivity.
"I jumped through every hoop, so to speak, during the negotiations to ensure that the [energy efficiency] label was able to accommodate, where suitable, the important introduction of ‘smartness’, for which a special symbol will be designed"
To allow products of different brands to “communicate” with each other, the key word is interoperability, a concept that is not yet fully in place, but the next few years can act as a buffer to give people more time to understand what exactly we are talking about.
So far, energy labels have generated an energy saving of almost 175 Mtep. We can and must do better in the future.
The detailed elements being discussed will be key to determining the new regulation framework for all categories of products. Among the various aspects, they are defining the role of the “repairers” in the interaction between products and manufacturers.
They must become professionals, authorised by each individual enterprise and registered on a specific database. It is inevitable that such a complex system could discourage many of the repairers operating today.
But I want to see the positive side: a process is under way to enhance labels and design criteria related to the efficiency of resources and circular economy. New professional profiles might be introduced, acknowledging a status that is currently lacking.
The label will most certainly continue to provide incentives to manufacturers to pursue continuous improvement and compete with the demands of those who decide to spend better, with increased respect for the environment, air quality and one’s own pockets.
"The energy efficiency label will most certainly continue to provide incentives to manufacturers to pursue continuous improvement and compete with the demands of those who decide to spend better, with increased respect for the environment, air quality and one’s own pockets"
The contribution that the label will make to our endeavours of achieving decarbonisation, will also depend on our ability to exploit new potential aspects, and all players will be called upon to enact their role to the best of their abilities.
Starting from the Commission, which must seriously consider the possibility of extending the ecodesign to IT products and digital technologies. Member States must also invest more in supervisory activities to avoid inadequate behaviour, especially when the new labels enter into force.
Communication and information will play a key role in ensuring the next phases of the label process are successful. The energy transition also depends on more intelligent daily habits that pay attention to the needs of our planet; a planet that is suffering due to the behaviour of mankind, which is falling short of the long-term requirements.
Climate change is not to be underestimated: our efforts must go beyond changes to a label, and must be comprehensive, collective and engaged in by the entire system. We have contributed by taking one step forward with the regulatory framework for energy consumers and communities alike, but the clock is ticking in this battle we have engaged in to endeavour to make the world a better place.
I have pledged my commitment and will always do so. But we need the commitment of everyone.
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