Energy Saving Trust plays an active part in energy projects, research and information sharing with energy agencies across Europe and beyond. We find our international work often brings a fresh perspective to challenges we face in the UK.
Many energy efficiency and renewable energy challenges are common to different parts of the world. We all need:
Good international connections bring the opportunity to share experiences and a greater chance that someone, somewhere will have faced similar challenges – and overcome them.
EU Concerted Action groups bring together national policy-makers and organisations from EU member states to exchange information and experience. We are members of groups dedicated to energy efficiency, renewable energy and the energy performance of buildings, while there is another project dedicated to monitoring and verification of energy saving policies – a vital element deserving more attention.
The Concerted Action meetings take place twice a year and focus on taking European political decisions and finding ways to make them happen in practice. The idea is that everyone leaves knowing how to do things better.
Recent meetings and working groups of the energy efficiency group have yielded some notable outcomes. Ireland have engaged with Denmark, Slovakia and Slovenia in exploring innovative financing for energy efficiency through energy performance contracting, where energy upgrades are funded through cost reductions.
Slovenia bolstered its monitoring of heating and cooling schemes after discussions with members from other countries, while all nations have benefitted from in-depth workshops, which looked to simplify metering and billing of renewable heat delivered through district heating schemes.
Another important, but different, part of our work in Europe is within the European Energy Agency Network (EnR), a voluntary collective of energy agencies across the continent. We currently hold the presidency of the network, setting the theme of ‘international collaboration’ for our presidential term. Topics under discussion include changing energy behaviour, labelling and eco-design and transport – aiming slightly wider than the highly-focused policy work of the Concerted Action groups.
Naturally, the shadow of Brexit looms large over any discussion of the relationship between UK and European policy, on energy or any other issue. The level of political connection on energy matters between the UK and EU will depend to a significant extent on whether the UK leaves with or without a deal.
Whatever happens with Brexit, sharing knowledge and working practices outside UK borders isn’t likely to get any less important. A climate emergency doesn’t respect lines drawn on maps, and new low-emissions technologies are arriving all the time that shape the political direction. While the UK is ahead in some elements of energy policy, there is plenty still to learn from our European neighbours.
Leaving the EU doesn’t mean the end of energy collaboration – and it’s hoped that while governmental connections to the continent may loosen post-Brexit, Energy Saving Trust will be sticking around. We want to remain that bridge to the support networks and valuable information that our European neighbours offer.