Denmark plans tough new energy efficiency rules

Ambitious proposal aims to tackle demand side by slashing non-transport energy use

Ambitious legislation aimed at slashing energy use by Danish industry, offices and homes by up to 50% over the next 15-20 years is being prepared by the national energy agency, for presentation to the parliament in December.

Energy use in sectors other than transport - which is to be tackled through a separate initiative - has risen "faster than expected" in recent years, the agency says in a discussion paper published last week. It warns that without "significant new demand side efforts" to improve efficiency, Denmark will miss a national goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 50% by 2030 that was set by the government last year.

This is Denmark's first attempt to develop existing energy saving regulations into a comprehensive reform-based law, and is a "central element in the sustainable development of Danish society," the agency says. It follows on from the reform of the energy sector introduced earlier this year (ENDS Daily 28 May).

Technological advances in equipment and process design, as well as the potential for people to change their behaviour, could comfortably achieve the savings required, the agency says. It points to a recent survey showing a four-fold variation in energy use between comparable local authorities. In addition, changing lifestyles could contribute to cuts of up to 80% in household electricity use, the paper says.

Over the next two months, policy makers will decide whether new energy saving targets should be absolute or related to economic growth. Under its "Save" programme, the EU is aiming for absolute annual cuts in energy intensity of one percentage point over "business as usual" levels. One alternative suggested by the Danish energy agency is that annual reductions in energy intensity should exceed economic growth by half a percentage point. This, it calculates, would achieve a halving of Denmark's energy intensity in 30 years.

According to the agency, the new law will aim at the greatest possible energy savings at the lowest possible cost. Methods under consideration include levies on fuel sales to be "cashed in" against investments in more efficient equipment or better insulation, or establishing an energy savings market, either separately or as part of one being established for renewable energy. Other options are taxes on inefficient appliances, tighter requirements and stricter application of ecolabelling schemes, and more stringent requirements within Denmark's legally required corporate environmental accounts.

Follow Up:
Danish energy agency, tel: +45 33 92 67 00. References: The report can be downloaded, in Danish only, from the agency's web site.

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