Renovation Wave – the number one priority?

With the start of September, all eyes in Brussels are now on the upcoming presentation of the Renovation Wave initiative that should be presented by the Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy.

This initiative is not “just” about renovations. Initially planned as one of the initiatives deriving from the Green Deal, it is now at the crossroads of major European priorities: an ambitious Renovation Wave can at the same time contribute to decarbonising the European building stock (which accounts for 36% of our GHG emissions), while making households, public facilities and offices smarter and safer, and boosting prosumer behaviour, but also kickstart the green economic recovery so many stakeholders are asking for across Europe by creating numerous local jobs and bolstering economic growth.

However, at the time of writing, it is hard not to observe that very few EU leaders are commenting and building expectations around the Renovation Wave. Furthermore, when looking at the current EU budget debates, the Renovation Wave is nowhere to be found. The only one – and not least – to have publicly advocated in favour of an ambitious Renovation Wave after the summer is Vice-President Timmermans. At the annual meeting of the Bruegel think tank this week, he declared that, in his opinion, the Renovation Wave must be the number one priority, because it addresses both short-term and long-term concerns.

The Renovation Wave has the potential to unleash countless benefits for our society and our economy. As EuropeOn, we voiced our member’s concerns by expressing what is needed for this initiative  to be a success and for electrical contractors assume their key role in it:

  • There should be an integrated approach to the Renovation Wave, in line with the Energy System Integration Strategy and the Climate Law,
  • In order to boost a smart, energy-efficient, flexible Renovation Wave while responding to safety issues in the built environment, the initiative should encompass the renovation of electrical systems, as they are ageing all across Europe and cannot always bear the new electric technologies integrated in the built environment,
  • Digitalisation must contribute to the energy transition in buildings,
  • The more ambitious renovations will be, the more skills will be needed – thus, we must ensure that the workforce is ready to take up the challenge of doubling renovation rates in Europe,
  • To support Member States’ ambition, the Renovation Wave must rely on sufficient and dedicated EU funding in the Recovery and Resilience Instrument.

The goal of the Renovation Wave is closely intertwined with the job potential in the electrical contracting sector. Indeed, according to our latest estimations, doubling the rates of renovation across Europe could lead to the creation of 270.000 jobs in our trade – provided that applicants match this ambition and that training is available. Furthermore, as highlighted in a recent study on building energy renovation commissioned by the Commission’s Directorate-General on Energy, installers – such as electrical contractors- “appear to be a group whose influence on energy renovation decision making is largely underestimated. These intermediaries are not only the ones being assigned the most prominent role in quality assurance of energy renovation measures by investors. They are also the persons consumers listen to when deciding about the extent or depth of energy efficiency measures.” In other words, they have an influential impact on both the speed and the ambition (or depth) of the renovation.

But this is nothing compared to the triggering effects that a comprehensive, integrated and funded Renovation Wave can achieve.