The missing ‘why’ – how narratives can improve energy efficiency and security in Europe: Key results from EEW4

The Energy Efficiency Watch 4 project shares its latest conclusions on the missing “why” of energy efficiency. The main findings have been condensed into a Narratives Brochure, for the benefit of policy-makers.

The missing ‘why’ – how narratives can improve energy efficiency and security in Europe: Key results from EEW4

The Energy Efficiency Watch 4 project will soon come to an end. This press release will present the key results of the project. Overall, the project outcomes intend to improve the level of communication on energy efficiency by identifying narratives for energy efficiency that resonate in different national or regional contexts. In this context, the project offers supporting tools for policy-makers.

The Energy Efficiency Watch (EEW), an EU-funded project, publishes the conclusions on the missing “why” and how narratives can improve energy efficiency and security in Europe. The main conclusions have been condensed into a Narratives Brochure in the form of overarching policy recommendations for policy-makers, based on the EEW4 survey and narrative cases, also in view of the European Green Deal.

  • Overall policy-makers should think and act beyond fragmented traditional policy areas, considering that in the public debate the connotation of change decides about the success or failure of the energy transition. To develop the right communicative framing, a comprehensive policy package must be developed across sectors and policy areas, combining for instance energy, education, research & innovation. A more concerted action between energy policy and key players such as educational institutions and branch associations is needed.
  • Strategic planning of policy implementation is required from the very start, by considering supportive narratives to flank all new and ongoing policies, and by promoting measures for participation and dialogue to target specific groups and stakeholders to increase their understanding and potential buy-in.
  • The economic relevance of energy efficiency as part of the energy transition must be strengthened, by the evolution of new business models and the creation of favourable market conditions. There needs to be a broader understanding of economic benefits, specifically the role that audits can play to incorporate their results in the financial key performance indicators of companies. Overcoming the predominance of the supply side is another important point to strengthen the synergies with energy efficiency. In that regard, different target groups’ patterns of economic behaviour should be analysed, and policy instruments should be tailored accordingly. A comprehensive definition of the economic dimension of energy efficiency should be established to increase geopolitical resilience.
  • The energy crisis related to the Ukraine war shows that energy efficiency has a high potential for energy security. Starting EEW4, we expected the contribution of energy efficiency to energy security to play a role in our discussions with stakeholders, to our surprise, the argument did not make it to the top five topics of the survey. This does not mean that EEW4 results are outdated, but on the contrary allows for insightful additional conclusions: energy security has not been taken seriously in the past, this is caused by a structural predominance of the supply side in the perception of what constitutes energy security, and a deep-rooted belief in economically rational behaviour as guiding principle for international energy relations. The EU must live up to its “energy efficiency first” principle and must aspire towards more ambitious policies and accordant narratives.