The European steel industry welcomes the Commission communication on energy efficiency as a contribution to climate protection, energy security and innovation in sectors which have a significant potential to further improve, such as the buildings sector which covers about 40 percent of EU energy consumption. Industry has to be energy-efficient, the very fact that high energy prices in the EU are already damaging the competitiveness of globally competing sectors such as steel.
For the European steel industry, an absolute cap on energy consumption is the wrong approach. It does not take account of economic and technical developments. To decrease energy costs the European steel industry has already reduced energy consumption in the past 40 years by 50 percent. The EU industry's energy intensity has been substantially lower than those in other regions and has improved by almost 19 percent between 2001 and 2011 while for example in the US the improvement over the same period was 9 percent (source: European Commission, Energy Economic Developments in Europe, European Economy, 1/2014) “In industry, increasing energy efficiency means reducing the amount of energy needed for the same process or product, such as increasing energy productivity. On the contrary, an absolute reduction of energy consumption would provide the wrong incentive to “consume less” and risk capping future growth prospects instead of “being more efficient”, says Gordon Moffat, Director General EUROFER.
A cap on energy consumption may even hamper innovation ability because improvements such as anti-corrosive coating, can only be realised with higher energy consumption in the production phase. With programs such as Horizon 2020 and SPIRE the EU has made a huge effort to provide financial instruments for Research and Development on EU level.
“It is now important to implement these instruments efficiently. Where the EU should become more active is the development of risk financing for industrial large scale demonstration projects of new energy efficient technologies”, says Moffat.
Sectors covered by the EU ETS should not be subject to any energy efficiency legislation such as the Energy Efficiency Directive. The Eco-design directive should be kept aligned with the principles of proportionality (focus on products with significant energy savings potentials), cost-efficiency and no double regulation e.g. with the Industrial Emissions Directive.
Therefore EU unilateral policy measures which increase the energy price gap with global competitors must be avoided as well as multiple layers of regulation and additional burdens on industry.
Represented by EUROFER, the European steel industry represents the world leader in its sector, producing on average 170 million tonnes of steel per year with direct employment of 350 thousand highly skilled people. More than 500 steel production and processing sites in 24 EU member states provide direct and indirect employment for millions of European citizens.
Barbara Herbst, Communications Manager, +32 2 738 79 32 (firstname.lastname@example.org)