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Research for better energy policy design

Reducing energy consumption and achieving energy savings is essential to deliver the European Green Deal. The eight EU-funded projects presented in this CORDIS Results Pack highlight bottom-up research on energy behaviour and modelling, supporting the design and implementation of better energy policies.

Climate Change and Environment icon Climate Change and Environment
Society icon Society
Energy icon Energy

Decarbonising the energy system is critical if Europe is to reach its climate and energy security objectives. These goals are enshrined in the European Green Deal, which aims to make Europe the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050, as well as the ‘Fit for 55’ package, a comprehensive set of legislative revisions designed to align EU policies with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55 % by 2030. As part of that legislative work, the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) was revised in 2023, further increasing its ambition by setting higher binding targets, promoting energy-saving measures and encouraging investment in energy-efficient technologies and practices. To deliver on these commitments, energy efficiency must be prioritised. Energy savings are the easiest way of reducing greenhouse emissions, while also saving consumers money. Simple and no-cost measures such as awareness campaigns on switching off lights and electrical equipment, promoting alternative modes of transport or adjusting heating temperatures by 1 °C helped to achieve significant energy reductions and illustrated the power of non- technological, behavioural solutions, when applied at scale and throughout Europe. Understanding consumer behaviour is therefore essential for effective policies. Useful insights from behavioural science and psychology on stimulating energy-efficient behaviour can be employed to guide the design of policies and behavioural change campaigns. The benefits of energy efficiency are not sufficiently taken into account in financial and political planning and decision-making. Prioritising energy efficiency also involves applying the EE1st principle, in particular when energy supply or energy infrastructure investments are at stake. In those cases, decision makers need to consider actions in energy efficiency and energy demand management on an equal footing with alternative actions to respond to a specific need or objective. However, to apply it, it is necessary to understand better the structure of energy demand and the impacts of energy efficiency measures. Three dimensions of this challenge were explored by recent Horizon 2020 Calls for Proposals, with the aim of making the energy efficiency first principle more operational, substantiating the demand-side aspects in energy modelling, and improving the understanding of non-energy benefits linked to energy efficiency. Parallel to that, other calls focused on enabling local actors to implement better energy efficiency policy measures and campaigns with the support of behavioural scientists. This Pack highlights just some of the research that answers these challenges. The Horizon 2020 Energy Efficiency programme and its successor, the LIFE Clean Energy Transition programme, provide funding for a wide range of activities working towards an energy-efficient, renewable energy-based, climate-neutral and resilient economy. This Results Pack features WHY and NEWTRENDS, projects devoted to substantiating the demand-side aspects in energy modelling. MICAT and REFEREE aimed to understand better the non-energy impacts of energy efficiency, while NUDGE, ENCHANT and EVIDENT sought to understand the key drivers of energy efficiency decision-making, and piloted energy efficiency interventions informed by these behavioural insights. Finally, ODYSSEE-MURE is an ongoing 30-year project collecting information on energy efficiency policy measures in all EU countries.