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13 December 2023
 
Welcome to ASHRAE's European Policy and Funding Update! This monthly publication features information on policy and funding-related activities of interest to ASHRAE members in Europe. Archives of previous updates are available from the ASHRAE European Policy and Funding Updates webpage.
EU Regulatory Updates
 

Last compromise before the trialogue on the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive

 
On 6 December, the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU submitted its proposal ahead of the meeting of Deputy Ambassadors (Coreper 1) on the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). The Spanish Presidency expressed its readiness to "show flexibility" on certain points of the regulation that pose challenges to the co-legislators. It suggests advancing the deadline for the implementation of Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) to 2028 for a percentage of non-residential buildings identified nationally as the least efficient. In return, Madrid proposes that this percentage be set between 7% and 12%. The target percentage for 2031 would be set between 19% and 28%. Initially, the states had agreed on 15% of the non-residential stock by 2030 and 25% by 2034. Regarding housing, the MEPS should ensure that the average primary energy consumption of the entire residential stock decreases by at least 15-20% by 2030 and at least 20-25% by 2035 (compared to 2020), according to the presidency, leaving the exact percentages for states to decide. It also proposes expanding the range of measures that states can use to achieve these objectives. Last month, the trilogue of 8 November, notably allowed the co-legislators to agree on the definition of "zero-emission buildings" and "least efficient buildings," as well as the prohibition of subsidies for autonomous fossil fuel boilers (see our brief). The next trilogue is scheduled for 8 December, with the aim of concluding the remaining points.
 

 
RESCOOP EU policy paper on heating and cooling in municipalities
 
On 30 November, RECOOP EU published a policy paper entitled “It’s Better When We’re Together: Briefing for municipalities and social housing providers on community heating and cooling”. This briefing, aimed at municipalities, social housing providers, and policy-makers explains how community heating and cooling can help them fulfill the heating and cooling planning obligation arising from the EU Energy Efficiency Directive. It showcases the benefits of energy communities, gives an overview of the barriers municipalities and social housing providers often face, and looks at how community heating and cooling can alleviate some of these pressures. Finally, it provides tools and recommendations for municipalities and social housing providers to create a citizen-driven heating and cooling transition.
 

 
European Commission publishes its final report on electrification of space heating in buildings
 
On 30 November, the European Commission unveiled its final report entitled "Potentials and Levels for the Electrification of Space Heating in Buildings." This report underscores the role of the space heating sector in the EU's climate goals. With heating and cooling constituting 50% of the EU's final energy consumption, the report emphasizes the necessity of decarbonizing this sector to achieve greenhouse gas neutrality by 2050. Examining direct and indirect electrification methods, the report employs a comprehensive analysis, considering technical and economic factors. The study identifies the most cost-effective levels of direct and indirect electrification, acknowledging current barriers and challenges to implementation. Utilizing a sophisticated modelling framework covering the EU-27 member states until 2050, the report provides insights for informed decision-making in the pursuit of sustainable energy practices.
 

 
Commissioner Hoekstra answers to MEP Cristian-Silviu Busoi on F-gases
 
On 22 November, Green Deal Commissioner Wopke Hoekstra responded to MEP Christian-Silviu Busoi's (EPP, Romania) concerns regarding the F-Gas Regulation in the ongoing trilogue discussions. Commissioner Hoekstra acknowledged the need for a balanced approach, emphasizing that the final text should avoid imposing excessive costs on consumers. He expressed reservations about potential bans on the new generation of F-gases, specifically hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs), commonly used in heat pumps and air conditioning systems. Notably, many existing systems on the market rely on HFOs, and some countries offer subsidies for transitioning to these heating systems. Hoekstra addressed the economic aspect, noting that heat pumps using natural refrigerants are currently 40% more expensive than those powered by F-gases. In response to Busoi's query on maintaining F-gases in heat pumps, Hoekstra clarified that the prohibitions agreed upon in the trilogue negotiations pertain only to newly placed equipment and won't affect already installed systems. Additionally, he clarified that while the European Parliament proposed amendments targeting all F-gases, including HFOs, such prohibitions would only come into effect after 2030. The Commissioner referenced the impact assessment for the F-Gas Regulation, indicating that heat pumps with natural alternatives to F-gases are expected to be only marginally more expensive and may result in cost savings over the equipment's lifetime due to enhanced energy efficiency.
 

 
HEAL’s response to the public consultation on a proposal for an EU PFAS Restriction
 
On 20 November, the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) provided a contribution to the consultation of the proposed restrictions on PFAS. HEAL praised the restriction proposal's unprecedented scope, emphasizing its necessity in addressing the health and environmental challenges posed by PFAS exposure. Notably, HEAL supported the use of persistence as a sufficient justification for restricting PFAS, aligning with scientific consensus. The organization commended the broad definition of PFAS in the proposal, covering 10,000 substances, including persistent fluoropolymers and perfluoropolyethers crucial for future effectiveness. Transparency and burden of proof on the industry were supported by HEAL, advocating for strict information requirements tied to derogations.
 
However, HEAL pointed out limitations in the proposal, including concerns about unlimited derogations and emphasized the importance of regulatory timelines to drive innovation in safer alternatives. The exclusion of PFAS pesticides and biocides was flagged as a limitation, urging regulation until more protective frameworks are in place. Derogations linked to food contact materials and drinking water applications faced opposition from HEAL, citing scientific evidence of PFAS migration and advocating for shorter derogations to promote swift shifts to safer alternatives. Inconsistencies with reporting requirements were highlighted, urging consistency to incentivize data collection and transparency. HEAL also stressed the need for clear oversight and review processes in the proposal, recommending monitoring milestones, industry obligations, and cost coverage for environmental monitoring.
 

 
Speech by Commissioner Simson at the Euroheat and Power Summit 2023
 
On 14 November, Commissioner Kadri Simson addressed the Euroheat and Power Summit 2023, emphasizing the crucial role of the heating and cooling sector in decarbonizing Europe. Simson highlighted that heating and cooling constitute approximately half of the EU's energy consumption, with many buildings still relying on fossil fuels for thermal comfort. The Commissioner commended the progress made during the Commission's term, citing the Fit-for-55 package and the REPower EU Plan as foundational frameworks. Simson outlined ambitious targets under the revised Renewable Energy Directive, aiming to double the share of renewables in the energy system by 2030. The speech emphasized the importance of efficient district heating and cooling, infrastructure planning, and the Energy Efficiency Directive. Commissioner Simson also revealed ongoing initiatives, including boosting the energy performance of buildings and revising eco-design rules for boilers. The Commissioner expressed commitment to concluding pending files before the term ends and announced plans for a Heat Pump Action Plan in the next year. Simson stressed the need for a 2040 greenhouse gas reduction target and called on Member States to translate EU directives into domestic actions. The Commissioner urged the phasing out of subsidies for fossil fuels and highlighted the role of National Energy and Climate Plans in shaping the next decade's clean energy landscape. Simson concluded optimistically, envisioning a future where district heating and cooling systems are fully decarbonized, fueled by renewable sources.
 

 
ECHA publishes all comments submitted to the PFAS restriction
 
On 2 November, the European Chemical Agency published all comments submitted to the PFAS restriction. ECHA received 5,642 contributions from the public to the proposal to restrict per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the EEA. They are compiled in 123 Word files that can be accessed through an index spreadsheet providing an overview of the feedback. The Agency does not publish information that has been marked as confidential by the consultee. The proposal, submitted to ECHA in January 2023, was prepared by five European countries. It is currently being evaluated by our scientific committees for Risk Assessment and for Socio-Economic Analysis.
 

 
EU National Updates
 
Report says replacing gas boilers with heat pumps could improve France's trade balance
 
On 4 December, the French General Directorate of the Treasury released an interim report focusing on the economic implications of ecological transition. According to the report, replacing gas boilers with heat pumps could enhance the French trade balance, but under specific conditions. The government's objective to replace one million gas boilers with heat pumps (PAC) could potentially reduce the French energy bill by nearly €5.5 billion, primarily due to decreased gas imports. However, this benefit hinges on the domestic production of electricity required to power these heat pumps. The report highlights that if additional electricity needs are met through imports generated from gas, the trade balance could deteriorate by €3.3 billion. Nonetheless, the adverse impact of electricity imports on the trade balance could be mitigated if a significant portion of the heat pumps is manufactured in France, with the authors suggesting that "if more than 55% of the value of these heat pumps is produced in France, the operation has a net positive effect."
 

 
 
UK announces a £140 million initiative to support developing countries in achieving net zero
 
On 5 December, at the COP28 negotiations in Dubai, UK Energy Security and Net Zero Minister Graham Stuart unveiled details of a £140 million initiative aimed at supporting developing countries in achieving net zero, expanding access to affordable energy, and fostering economic growth. The funds have the aim to provide clean energy for 8.7 million people, generate 25,000 jobs in clean energy industries, and reduce CO2 emissions by at least 800,000 tonnes. This commitment aligns with the UK's domestic progress on energy transition, having set one of the most ambitious 2035 climate change targets globally, with greenhouse gas emissions reduced by almost 50% since 1990, marking the fastest reduction among major economies. The additional funding seeks to assist developing nations in their emission reduction efforts. The announcement complements the £1.6 billion investment for international climate finance projects announced earlier by the Prime Minister at the start of COP28, focusing on deforestation prevention, environmental protection, and advancing the global shift to clean and renewable energy. The comprehensive package includes allocations through programs like UK Partnering for Accelerated Climate Transitions (PACT), Transforming Energy Access (TEA), Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS), and other initiatives targeting universal access to clean energy in Africa.
 

 
 
UK Government announces 50% increase in grant through the Boiler Upgrade Scheme
 
On 30 November, the UK government announced a surge in new applications for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme following a 50% increase in grants for installing new heat pumps, bringing the grant to £7,500. Newly released figures reveal that in the week following the grant increase, applications tripled, reaching 1,150, which is more than three times the average weekly rate before the change. Subsequent weeks maintained a remarkable 60% increase compared to the previous weekly average. The Boiler Upgrade Scheme, available in England and Wales, aims to encourage families to transition from fossil fuel heating systems to cleaner alternatives, making it one of the most generous schemes of its kind in Europe. Additionally, proposed changes to planning rules may further facilitate the installation of heat pumps, contributing to the nation's efforts to adopt sustainable heating solutions.
 

 
 

UK launches the Local Net Zero Accelerator pilot

 
On 30 November, the UK government announced the launch of the Local Net Zero Accelerator pilots, allocating £19 million to Greater Manchester and West Midlands Combined Authorities. This funding aims to catalyze private sector investment and accelerate efforts to combat climate change, aligning with the UK's net zero target. The selected combined authorities will have the flexibility to allocate the funds across diverse green projects, spanning energy, housing, and transportation sectors. These could include initiatives such as housing retrofitting, renewable energy installations, and green transportation projects. The initiative aims to enable authorities to attract private investment, fostering long-term sustainability. Additionally, a third pilot in the York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority, modeled after the successful Bristol City Leap, aims to replicate its achievements, supporting approximately 1,000 jobs. The pilots will be supported by a centralised finance service, backed by £3 million, providing financial and commercial expertise to attract private investment. An additional £2 million will be allocated to the Greater South East Local Net Zero Hub for independent oversight and successful delivery of the three pilot schemes. The insights gained from these initiatives will inform and support other combined authorities across England in achieving their net zero targets.
 

 
 
Belgian Renovation Week
 
From 15 to 18 January, FEDARENE will host the Belgian Renovation Week. The event will take place in Maison de la Poste (Tour & Taxis), Brussels. The purpose of this event is dive into crucial topics like EU renovation challenges, sustainable building transitions, material innovation, and the human side of energy renovation.
 
More information is available here, while registration is available here

 


 
Glossary
EU
EUROPEAN COMMISSION: The European Commission is made up of 27 Commissioners, 1 for each Member State, and represents the interests of the EU as a whole. Every Commissioner is in charge of a Directorate-General (DG) that can be compared to a Ministry at national level. The European Commission proposes legislation in the form of Regulations and Directives and submits them to the Parliament and Council for discussion and adoption.

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT: The European Parliament is made up of 705 MEPs (see below) that are directly elected by EU citizens in 27 Member States.

MEP: Member of the European Parliament, a co-legislator within the EU that is made up of representatives from political parties throughout Member States.  

COUNCIL OF THE EU: Co-legislator, made up of representatives from Member State Governments. Has a six-month rotating presidency, currently held by the Czech Republic until the end of 2022. 

EUROPEAN COUNCIL: The European Council is made up of the leaders of the EU member states, commonly known as EU27. It defines the EU’s overall political direction and priorities but does not pass laws.

REGULATION: EU legislative act that is binding in its entirety and is to be applied in its entirety across the EU by all EU Member States.

DIRECTIVE: EU legislative act that sets out a goal that all EU Member States must achieve. However, it is up to the EU Member States to adopt their own laws on how to achieve the EU goals enshrined in the Directive. 

HORIZON EUROPE: is the EU’s main and biggest Research and Innovation programme for the period of 2021-2027. The programme has an overall funding of €95,5 billion. The program is divided into three pillars: open science, global challenges & industrial competitiveness and open innovation.  
 
INVESTEU: The InvestEU Programme builds on the successful model of the Investment Plan for Europe, the Juncker Plan. It brings together, under one roof, the European Fund for Strategic Investments and 13 EU financial instruments currently available. Triggering at least €650 billion in additional investment, the Programme aims to give an additional boost to investment, innovation and job creation in Europe.

EUROPEAN GREEN DEAL: is a set of policy initiatives by the European Commission with the overarching aim of making Europe climate neutral in 2050. The plan is to review EU’s energy and climate laws to bring them in line with this ambition. Green Deal also introduces new legislation on the circular economy, building renovation, biodiversity, farming and innovation.
 
FIT-FOR-55-PACKAGE: The European Commission’s work program for 2021 included the revisions and initiatives linked to the European Green Deal climate actions and in particular the climate target plan’s 55 % net reduction target are presented under the Fit for 55 package. The package is compiled of two parts, released on 14 July 2021 and 14 December 2021.
 
REHVA: is the association of European heating, ventilation and air-conditioning associations, based in Brussels.
 
You can find all relevant EU building policy related information in this useful document.

UK
BILL: A bill is a proposal for a new law, or a proposal to significantly change an existing law. A bill may start in either the Commons or the Lords and must pass a series of stages in each Houses. Once the bill has been agreed by both Houses, it receives Royal Assent and becomes an Act of Parliament.

HOUSE OF COMMONS: the House of Commons is the lower house and de facto primary chamber of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the upper house, the House of Lords (see below), it meets in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is an elected body consisting of 650 members known as members of Parliament (MPs). Members are elected to represent constituencies by the first-past-the-post system and hold their seats until Parliament is dissolved.

HOUSE OF LORDS: The House of Lords scrutinises bills that have been approved by the House of Commons. It regularly reviews and amends Bills from the Commons. While it is unable to prevent Bills passing into law, except in certain limited circumstances, it can delay Bills and force the Commons to reconsider their decisions.
 

 
For additional information on European policy issues, please contact Brusselsoffice@ashrae.org
 
 

 
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