Last summer, the European Commission published a proposal for recasting the EU Energy Efficiency Directive (EED), aimed at further stimulating EU efforts to promote energy efficiency and progress towards achieving climate neutrality by 2050.

Heating and cooling play a significant role in the Union’s ambition to transition to a clean and carbon-neutral economy. In the EED, a particular focus is put on district heating and cooling, where the definition of efficient systems will gradually be tightened to move away from fossil fuel-based systems. In cogeneration, the aim is to introduce additional criteria for specific emissions in high-efficiency cogeneration (270 gCO2/kWh).

These proposed measures in the recast EED should be seen alongside the new targets proposed in the revised Renewable Energy proposal for including renewables in heating and cooling (at least 1.1%) and for district heating and cooling (2.1%), which aim to ensure wider use of renewables and waste heat in such systems.

The energy industry expressed some concerns for the new definition of “efficient systems” and its impact on district heating systems, especially those based on natural gas high-efficiency cogeneration. They claim that for existing efficient district heating systems, an adequate transition period should be introduced to adapt to the new requirements, in order to avoid these systems from suddenly losing their status.

District heating is not the same across the Union, since it largely depends on regional and local conditions and is therefore mostly used in the EU’s coldest countries. During the open public consultation carried out by the European Commission, several energy industry stakeholders expressed their concerns that the current goals of increasing the share of renewables can be seen as a challenge for Member States that have decided to develop heating systems as an effective way of ensuring heat supply while at the same time reducing the emissions of district heat by replacing coal with other fuels like natural gas.

Join this EURACTIV Virtual Conference to discuss the new definition of efficient district heating systems in the EED proposal, and how stakeholders can best cooperate to achieve cost-effective decarbonisation.