By Sallamaari Muhonen, Managing director at the Finnish Electrotechnical Trade Association
Favorable coefficients speed up electrification
In the EU, there is a discussion going on right now about the primary energy coefficient, the update of its numerical values and of its calculation method. Although the discussion on the topic may sound quite theoretical, the numerical values of the coefficient are of great importance to European energy choices.
The primary energy coefficients jointly measure the useful energy of different energy production forms by considering the efficiency ratio of the production methods. The coefficients enable the calculation of total energy consumption in the EU.
Through legislation, the primary energy coefficient of electrical energy has a significant impact both on energy choices in construction and on the mutual competitive position of products that are subject to eco-design, as well as on the choices of consumers and professionals.
The numerical value of the primary energy coefficient is an important business factor for the electrical trade. A figure recognizing the energy efficiency benefits of electricity makes choices easier and can significantly increase the popularity of electric solutions.
In the ongoing revision, it is essential for the EU member states to maintain the possibility of using weighting factors instead of the primary energy coefficient. The weighting factors enable the member states to define numerical values for different forms of energy, which effectively steer towards the emission targets set in the Fit for 55-package.
Energy choices in new buildings
In energy efficiency control of construction, primary energy coefficients are used both in energy efficiency regulation of construction and in energy performance certificates. The numerical values used can be specific to the member states and therefore are able to significantly guide energy choices for new construction. A high primary energy coefficient of electricity reduces the energy efficiency of solutions that use electricity and favors forms of energy with a lower coefficient, even though the actual physical energy efficiency of final energy use does not change in the calculation.
Real efficiencies for eco-design products
In products subject to eco-design, such as electric heaters and heat pumps, the commonly defined European primary energy coefficient for electrical energy (now 2.1) converts the physical final energy use efficiency of the devices into a significantly lower value. The almost 100% efficiency of the final energy use of the electric heater drops to 39% in the eyes of the consumer and professional. This can be seen in the energy certificates of the devices and causes astonishment. The problem would be rectified by removing the coefficients from the energy efficiency settings of products subject to eco-design and by switching to actual efficiencies corresponding to final energy consumption.
Emission-free production a priority
Even though the use of primary energy coefficients is aimed at energy efficiency that can be assessed in a common measure, there is a significant challenge in determining the coefficients and their application, especially with regard to electrical energy. Coefficients based on historical values do not sufficiently consider the remarkably rapid change in the electricity production mix. The values of the coefficients should be set more objectively using the situation estimated for the year 2030.
The European Fit for 55- package needs to be supported by the most emission-free forms of electricity production and incentives for their use. By choosing wisely the coefficient for electricity, we can promote a cleaner electric future.