Less than half of European firms have invested in energy efficiency measures, and this area accounts for only a small share of their total investment budget, according to a new report by the European Investment Bank (EIB).
The new EIB report, Going Green – Who is investing in energy efficiency, and why it matters, is based on the annual EIB Investment Survey (EIBIS) of 12,500 firms in the European Union.
The surveyed firms also report that, on average, only a third of their building stock satisfies the highest energy efficiency standards, showing a huge potential for further energy efficiency savings. The report further finds that firms’ awareness of energy efficiency benefits is critical for the uptake of energy-saving measures.
“Energy efficiency investment will be crucial for Europe’s green recovery and reaching our climate goals. It holds the combined potential of increasing firms’ competitiveness, enhancing energy security and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It shows that going green and strong growth can go hand in hand,” said EIB Vice-President Andrew McDowell, responsible for energy.
“We need to avoid that the Covid-19 crisis distorts firms’ incentives to invest in energy efficiency. Our ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets leave no room for complacency. EU firms must become more energy-efficient if they want to stay competitive,” said EIB Chief Economist Debora Revoltella. “For firms to play their part in energy conservation and be equipped to adapt to a changing economy, they need clear energy policy signals. They need a supportive regulatory framework that also pushes for higher energy building performance standards. And they need financing conditions that support timely investment to realise the enormous gains of energy efficiency improvements.”
In 2019, only 40% of EU firms took measures to improve energy efficiency, according to the EIB study. Slovakia displayed the highest percentage of firms investing in energy efficiency (61%), followed by Spain, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, Portugal and Sweden. Only these seven EU countries show a greater share of firms investing in energy efficiency than in the United States, where 47% of firms have invested in energy efficiency. By contrast, Lithuania, Estonia, Greece, Romania and France were at the other end of the spectrum.
As regards their share of total investment in energy efficiency improvements, European firms spent only 10%, whereas this figure was 12% for US firms.
In 2019, EU firms reported only 38% of their commercial building stock to be of high or the highest energy efficiency standards. Yet since 2016, firms’ perceptions of the quality of their building stock has deteriorated. This seems to suggest that most of Europe’s existing building stock may not yet meet recently adopted energy performance requirements and that improvement of the stock in line with the new standards is still pending, according to the EIB.