The role of energy efficient buildings

In the EU's future power system

Published: 15/10/2015

Beyond the main benefits of energy efficiency, such as reduced energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency in buildings also has the potential to reduce costs and increase efficiency on the supply side. More specifically, this study looks into the impact of high efficient buildings on the power system.

The expected growth of electric heat pumps to supply heating (and cooling) energy to the EUs building stock will require significant investments in electricity production capacities and a respective strengthening of the grid. These investments can be reduced by energy efficiency measures that lead to a decrease in the energy demand of buildings.

Highly efficient buildings are thereby beneficial for the power systems in two ways: by reducing the energy demand and by providing a higher flexibility to the grid. The study found that in a high efficiency scenario, 57 GW in peak load can be saved compared to a low efficiency scenario by the year 2050, which equals the current total electricity production capacity of Austria and the Netherlands combined. The impact of energy efficiency on the flexibility of the power systems leads to an additional reduction in peak load of the EU power system of around 12 GW.

The potential reduction of peak loads and increased flexibility, considering a high efficiency scenario, translates into 89-153 billion EURO of CAPEX reduction in the power sector until 2050.

As a consequence of the above, highly energy efficient buildings (for new buildings and in deep retrofits) do not only show benefits at building level but can also deliver benefits at electricity system level, thus supporting a resilient future energy system. 

The report is also available for download at: eurima.org