Joint European Commission and ECEEE seminar on energy efficiency obligations

Photo credits: ECEEE

Publish date: October 7, 2011

On the 30th of September a joint European Commission and ECEEE (European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy) seminar on energy efficiency obligations took place in Brussels. It was organised to provide participants with an overview of key design features, functioning and results of existing and planned energy efficiency obligation schemes in Europe.

The seminar indeed provided a good picture of the various ways in which schemes are designed. The five schemes that have currently been running in the UK, Italy, Denmark, Flanders and France have been judged to be successful by their national governments and have been expanded over the years. 

The British Government for instance has the longest running and largest energy efficiency obligation currently in place. With the so called Green Deal in place, it has expanded greatly, particularly since 2005. Put simply, the Government established a framework to enable private firms to offer consumers energy efficiency improvements to their homes, community spaces and businesses at no upfront cost, and recoup payments through a charge in instalments on the energy bill. As the evidence shows, these actions are substantially turning down gas demand in the residential sector. The current scheme is to be replaced from 2013 with new “Energy Company Obligation” (ECO).

In Denmark the obligations are taken care of by an energy efficiency trust and are put on energy distributors. Standard benchmark values are revised each year reinforced by an external independent audit each second year and instead of penalties a loss of license is applied.

The French Energy Savings Certificates Scheme defines obliged bodies as all energy suppliers. In Italy the scheme helped to show how to measure savings plus ensured visibility for energy efficiency measures.

In addition to the already existing schemes, the participants had a chance to get to know the outline of the schemes not yet in place.  The Polish scheme for instance is to be implemented as of 2013 combining white certificates system with tendering procedures. It is to use a bottom-up system to calculate the targets. For 2011 a professional energy audit is planned, followed by preparation of tenders for efficiency improvements in 2012 and imposing the obligation in 2013. The settlement of the obligation is planned for 2014 with an amortization or obligation to pay a penalty fee in 2013.


The approach to energy efficiency obligations on energy companies has developed differently with various mandatory rules for parts of the energy industry and a wide range in the end use sectors to which the obligations are applied.  Nevertheless such obligations have been shown to be extremely flexible and have proved capable to work both with a traditional monopoly energy utility and in a fully liberalised market. The seminar showed that energy efficiency obligations mean different things in different Member States, but are overall successful policy tools.

For more details please download the presentations which will be available on the DG Energy website as well as the eceee website in the nearest future.