NOx, NOx — Who’s There? Decarbonizing Buildings Through Nitrogen Oxides Emissions Standards

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This fact sheet, prepared as a poster for presentation at the ACEEE 2022 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings, describes the concept of a model rule to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from fossil fuel-fired water heaters, an opportunity to transform the market for these appliances by driving the adoption of cleaner, more energy-efficient electric heat pump models.

Electrifying last-mile delivery: Battery-electric delivery trucks soon cheaper to use than diesel trucks in Europe

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Decarbonisation of the heavy-duty vehicle segment in Europe is crucial to curb greenhouse gas and pollutant emissions from the transport sector. Last-mile delivery trucks for city logistics are a promising application for electrification given their low daily mileages and the opportunity to recharge at depots when not in use. However, it is still unclear how these electric delivery trucks compare to their diesel counterparts from an economic perspective, considering overall cost of usage. Moreover, the large-scale deployment of electric delivery vehicles raises questions about how this additional charging demand can be integrated into local power grids and what it will cost. 

A joint study from the International Council on Clean Transportation and RAP quantifies the total cost of ownership of battery-electric last-mile delivery trucks in six European cities and compares it to existing diesel truck fleets. The analysis considers the cost of the trucks, purchase premiums, and a detailed breakdown of charging expenses, including power and network tariffs. The study also provides policy recommendations to overcome the cost difference between these two vehicle types and to foster the use of electric delivery fleets. This fact sheet offers a brief overview of the report’s results.

Analysis: Running costs of heat pumps versus gas boilers

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The running costs of clean heating technologies are a subject of fierce debate. Often misinformation is derailing a common understanding of how much it costs to heat homes with heat pumps in the UK. This analysis shows that if they are designed and installed well, heat pumps can be cheaper than gas boilers, the main home heating technology used in the UK.

Household gas prices are on the rise and are expected to increase by another 84% in April. Electricity prices have risen too, but not as much as gas. As a result, renewable heating technologies such as heat pumps are now much more competitive. This analysis shows that, with an efficient heat pump, households can now save up to 27% on their heating bills compared to a gas boiler. Heating with a gas boiler will cost households £934 per year, up from £579. A very efficient heat pump will only cost £723 per year, up from £536 per year. For an average household, this is a saving of £261 per year.

Electrifying city logistics in the European Union: Optimising charging saves cost

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The use of electric trucks in urban and regional logistics has great potential to cut emissions in the freight sector and accelerate decarbonisation of transport. A key question for logistics operators is how to optimise truck charging in order to take advantage of lower electricity prices and excess renewable energy on the grid. To avoid the significant costs that result from unmanaged or suboptimal charging, depots will need to identify optimisation strategies now, while they have few electric vehicles in their fleets or are planning their purchase. To do so, it is important for operators to analyse what drives charging costs, beyond the electricity consumption of the depots and fleets.

A joint study from the International Council on Clean Transportation and the Regulatory Assistance Project assesses how logistics operators can charge electric trucks most cost effectively at the depot, while also capturing consumer and grid benefits by optimising their charging processes. This fact sheet provides an overview of the background, key findings and recommendations from the study.

Minimum energy performance standards to decarbonise buildings by 2050

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How do we take Europe’s building stock to net-zero by 2050? Currently, only around 1% of the building stock is renovated each year. Even worse, only 0.2% of the renovated floor area undergoes a deep renovation that saves more than 60% primary energy. To get Europe on track to decarbonise the building stock by 2050, the renovation rate needs to triple and the ambition of these renovations need to substantially increase. In this fact sheet, we outline one policy that has the potential to drive these important changes. It also delivers significant economic, environmental and health benefits to all Europeans.

Minimum energy performance standards are regulated standards that existing buildings must meet at a designated point in the future or at a natural trigger point in the building lifecycle, like sale or renovation. The standard can be defined in many ways: presence of minimum energy efficiency measures, maximum carbon emissions or minimum energy performance. RAP illustrates how a minimum energy performance standard — based on energy performance certificate class — that tightens incrementally over time could take even the worst-performing buildings to the best performance by 2050.

Policymakers in Europe and beyond are introducing such standards, designed in different ways to respond to local contexts and objectives. The fact sheet introduces the key design details of selected European policies, whilst the accompanying RAP paper summarises the design and learning from worldwide examples. The paper also examines the framework of renovation support needed alongside effective minimum energy performance standards. Elements of this framework include funding, finance and incentives, practical and technical help for building owners and measures to ensure the poorest are not burdened with costs but can benefit from better buildings.

Deepening Solar Investment Through Beneficial Electrification

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​In a poster presentation at the Solar Power International conference in Salt Lake City, Dr. Carl Linvill demonstrated how cities can pair solar generation with electrified end uses and highlighted case studies of successful deployment of these resources.

Carbon revenues for a just transition

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We have in Europe today a huge new opportunity to clean up our energy system, advance social justice and address catastrophic climate change. In this fact sheet, we illuminate the path to achieving these goals — carbon revenue recycling. In other words, we need to invest Europe’s EU Emissions Trading System auction revenues into strategic programmes for energy efficiency, especially in the housing sector.

The EU Emissions Trading System has recently been reformed, increasing the price for carbon allowances fourfold compared to 2017. As a result, the revenue received by European Member States is also rising rapidly and is projected to total 165 billion euros over the next 10 years. EU countries now have the opportunity to direct as much as 10 billion euros more toward climate solutions per year.

But it’s also crucial to look beyond the money. To make rapid progress in the short time available to act, we must also mobilise the power of carbon revenues to drive more carbon savings, more cost effectively. Not only will we achieve more and achieve it faster, we will improve the odds that solutions will be politically sustainable if we invest carbon revenues in programs that further lower emissions at low cost — especially end-use energy efficiency. According to the International Energy Agency, improving efficiency could provide over a third of the needed low-emission “energy supply” to meet global Paris targets. We have real-world evidence that recycling carbon revenues through strong efficiency programs can deliver seven to nine times more carbon savings than raising prices alone, at the same or even lower cost to the consumer.

But let’s not forget that consumers pay when we put a price on carbon. And this cost is more burdensome for low-income households who might already be suffering from energy poverty. When we recycle carbon revenues to support household efficiency, families will see long-lasting benefits: warmer and healthier homes and lower energy bills. Targeting carbon revenues to refurbish Europe’s huge building stock, and especially to renovate and improve housing for lower-income households, is a powerful tool to deliver a cleaner, faster and more just energy transition.

Minimum energy efficiency standards for a fair energy transition

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In a joint fact sheet, the Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE) and the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP) recommend the introduction of minimum energy performance standards for rental buildings.

In general, a household is said to be in energy poverty when its members cannot afford to keep adequately warm.  The combination of low incomes, energy prices and inefficient housing leads to energy poverty.

The background paper (in German) from authors Dr. Sibyl Steuwer, Dr. Jan Rosenow, and Andreas Jahn summarises an evaluation of relevant literature. Although the data does not reveal the full extent of energy poverty, the findings are nevertheless clear: energy poverty is an issue in Germany and those affected are almost exclusively tenants. In other words, the people who suffer most from the problems ensuing from energy poverty, such as respiratory diseases or increased risk of stroke, have the least ability to trigger change or implement energy renovations to address the problem at hand.

Dynamic minimum standards for apartment buildings can trigger extensive renovations. If they are enhanced by requirements for indoor parameters, they can be an important instrument for combating energy poverty, alleviating negative health impacts and achieving climate protection targets in the building sector without crowding out tenants. Appropriate financing models can prevent rent increases, ensuring the renovations are carried out in a socially responsible manner. It is also important to improve data quality in order to design minimum standards for specific target groups.

A German version of the fact sheet is available here.

Energetische Mindeststandards für eine sozial gerechte Wärmewende

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In einem gemeinsamen Factsheet empfehlen Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE) und Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP) die Einführung von Mindeststandards für Mietgebäude.

Allgemein ist ein Haushalt von Energiearmut betroffen, wenn es sich die Mitglieder nicht leisten können, die Wohnung ausreichend zu heizen. Die Kombination von niedrigem Einkommen, steigenden Energiepreisen und ineffizienten Wohngebäuden führt zu Energiearmut.

Das Hintergrundspapier ist die Zusammenfassung einer längeren Auswertung einschlägiger Literatur. Zwar lässt die Datenlage nicht das ganze Ausmaß der Energiearmut erkennen, die Befunde sind dennoch eindeutig: Es gibt Energiearmut in Deutschland, betroffen sind fast ausschließlich Mieter. Das bedeutet, dass ausgerechnet jene Gruppe am meisten von den Folgeproblemen der Energiearmut wie Atemwegserkrankungen oder erhöhte Schlaganfallgefährdung betroffen ist, die den kleinsten Hebel zum Handeln hat.

Mindeststandards für Mietshäuser können tiefgreifende Sanierungen auslösen. Werden sie flankiert mit Anforderungen an Innenraumparameter können sie ein wichtiges Instrument zur Bekämpfung von Energiearmut, zur Linderung von Gesundheitsbeeinträchtigungen und zum Erreichen der Klimaschutzziele im Gebäudesektor sein, ohne dabei zu Verdrängung der Mieter zu führen. Entsprechende Finanzierungsmodelle können eine Mieterhöhung verhindern, so dass Sanierungen tatsächlich sozialverträglich durchgeführt werden können. Eine Verbesserung der Datengrundlage ist wichtig, um die Mindeststandards zielgruppenspezifisch auszugestalten.

Eine Englische Version des Factsheets finden Sie hier.

Fixed charges impede progress & drive up costs of the clean energy transition

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This short fact sheet reviews the significance of network charges, their role in driving inefficient consumption and higher costs, how other industries recoup fixed costs through per-unit pricing, and how tariff design can empower customers and drive Europe’s clean energy transition. To align tariff design with the EU’s broader clean energy goals, RAP recommends clarifying the guidance on “cost-reflectivity” to refer to the principle that a consumer should pay for the costs they impose on the network, not to the nature of specific customer charges. We also recommend that Member States’ develop network tariff options for recovering all network costs based on the following principles:

  • A customer should be able to connect to the grid for no more than the cost of connecting to the grid.
  • Customers should pay for grid services in proportion to how much and when they use the grid.
  • Customers who generate electricity should cover their fair share of grid costs, by paying more to use the grid when it’s heavily loaded, but less when it’s not.