Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Efficiency, at the heart of energy saving

Special report 11th FEMIP conference

Written by Caroline Garcia on Thursday, December 5th 2013 à 15:42 | Read 1667 times


All around the Mediterranean, countries are looking at improving their energy efficiency. Efficiency is thought of as key to reducing energy consumption, particularly in homes. This is why all the focus is on the building sector. With a rapidly growing population in countries in the south of the region, measures are being introduced to encourage contractors to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings and to educate families to use energy responsibly.

THE MEDITERRANEAN. The development of green energy has long been a priority in the Mediterranean but the situation is changing. Although it remains important, it is now being overshadowed by a bigger issue in terms of energy saving, namely energy efficiency.

With a 45% increase in population forecast between now and 2030, demand for energy could grow by 40%. 42 million new buildings would be constructed, mainly in urban areas. This annual 5 to 7% growth in demand for energy until 2030 is therefore mainly expected to be driven by the residential and commercial building sector, making it the largest sector in terms of energy consumption in the countries on the southern shore of the Mediterranean.

Governments are taking notice of these figures:
Christelle Bedes, Mediterranean Project Manager, ADEME

The most visible sign of the change in mentalities is in the naming of national energy agencies,

says Christelle Bedes, Mediterranean Project Manager in the International Affairs department of the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (Ademe).

Agencies for the promotion of renewable energy have become energy management agencies. Prior to building infrastructure, every government must understand the needs of its population to prepare for the future as well as possible.

Influencing businesses

Governments are relying on building contractors to improve their energy efficiency. (photo C. Garcia)
Governments are relying on building contractors to improve their energy efficiency. (photo C. Garcia)
In this context, the building sector lies at the heart of public policy. The picture in the Mediterranean reflects the global situation. The most recent World Energy Council report, published on 8 October 2013, states that "residential and non-residential buildings represent the largest end-use sector and are a key focus in terms of energy efficiency." Experience sharing, professional training, regulatory standard setting and business certification are the main tools for improving energy efficiency.

The Medener network, founded in 1997, is responsible for promoting these practices all around the Mediterranean. This association brings together five European agencies (in Greece, Italy, France, Spain and Portugal) and seven to the south and east of the Mediterranean (namely Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, Syria*).

Since 2012, Medener has been compiling a database of energy efficiency indicators in countries in the south of the region, in order to measure the effects of the public policies put in place. Initially focused on four countries (namely Algeria, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia), from 2014 it will be expanded to the network’s three newest members: Jordan, Egypt and Turkey.

Different energy contexts

"These data allow us to better understand trends and to target our actions more accurately, explains Christelle Bedes. In the south, improving living conditions is most important whereas in the north of the region, the main focus is on lowering household bills". Added to this is each country's specific energy situation and priorities.

"The concerns of Tunisians, who are pioneers in energy efficiency, or Moroccans, who import most of their energy, are not the same as those of Algerians or Egyptians for whom the stakes are lower", notes Christelle Bedes.

Pierre el-Khoury, Director of the Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation
Similarly, Pierre el-Khoury, Director of the Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation, points out that despite the existence of a

real energy efficiency culture in Lebanon, changing the building code is not a current priority.

There is also the question of the subsidies governments apply to the price of energy. However, energy efficiency measures are not necessarily more difficult to implement in the south than in the north of the Mediterranean. "In Europe, we have to work alongside a set of existing regulations on residential lighting or adapting homes for those with disabilities, for example. In the south, agencies have more latitude," says the Ademe representative.

Energy consumption practices vary by country

The results of the first phase of this project reveal that average household energy consumption is rising fast in Lebanon, Algeria and Morocco (by about 3% per year), but shrinking in Portugal, Tunisia and Greece. The Medener analysis also shows that in Morocco the increase in electrification from 68 to 95% between 2000 and 2010 accounts for two-thirds of the increase in electricity consumption per household (compared with just under 20% in Tunisia and Algeria where electrification rose from 95 to almost 100%).

Electricity consumption in electrified homes is growing rapidly in southern countries and in Portugal (above 2% per year), as houses become better equipped (with refrigerators, TV, ICT, air conditioning or water heating). However, this growth is weaker in Spain and Greece where the crisis has significantly impacted households.

France (where electrified households consume approximately 6,000 kWh per year) and Lebanon (where households use approximately 5,700 kWh per year) have the highest level of energy consumption in the Mediterranean, due to the use of heating in France and air-conditioning in Lebanon. Tunisian and Moroccan households use around 1,000 kWh per year, Algerian homes consume 2,000 kWh and households in other European countries consume around 3,000 kWh. In Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Italy, electrical appliances and lighting account for a large part of household energy consumption (80-90%). Electricity use for heating is particularly high in France and Portugal, where it accounts for over 50% of household consumption.

* Cooperation with Syria has stopped.

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