CMS issued an Energy Savings Guide, outlining the most important legal measures that Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, North Macedonia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey and Ukraine introduced to tackle the energy crisis.
European countries and the European Union have adopted a wide variety of energy-saving laws and regulations in an effort to reduce the dependence on Russian fossil fuels as much as possible and ease the burden of soaring energy prices on consumers. Law firm CMS Reich-Rohrwig Hainz, which has extensive legal expertise in the energy sector, shone a light on individual measures in Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, North Macedonia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey and Ukraine with its new Energy Savings Guide.
Many more measures are still to come, the authors pointed out. The document contains country overviews, national relief measures for high energy prices, national, regional and communal legislation and the energy storage statuses and incentives per country. CMS operates in 43 countries.
Saving energy is first of five actions in REPowerEU plan
Building on the Fit-for-55 package of proposals and completing the actions on energy security of supply and storage, the European Commission’s REPowerEU plan put forward a set of five actions, the first of which is saving energy. Union law sets forth mandatory saving goals for member states but leaves them plenty of leeway to choose between a variety of measures.
Every EU member state can choose its own path to achieving target savings
Applicant countries such as North Macedonia, Turkey and Ukraine have passed energy savings laws and targets too – and so did many others – offering additional flexibility, CMS said. The energy-saving obligations are intended to get consumers through the energy crisis and maintain the security of supply.
EU remains dedicated to cutting net emissions to zero by 2050
As a framework, the Fit-for-55 package and the European Climate Law (REG 2021/1119) set out a binding, irreversible reduction of anthropogenic emissions. By 2030, 55% of the net greenhouse gas emissions must be saved, compared to 1990 levels. The mandatory target for 2050 is to reach net zero emissions.
Regulation 2022/1032 requires that member states fill their gas storage facilities to at least 80%-90% or that they store at least 35% of their average annual consumption in European storage facilities. Reducing consumption over the years reduces the filling obligation, CMS noted.
Member states must either fill their gas storage facilities to at least 80%-90% or store a minimum of 35% of their average annual consumption
Since August 2022, obligatory reductions in gas consumption apply to EU member states (Regulation 2022/1032). Once a union alarm has been triggered and for as long as it remains in force, member states must reduce their gas consumption by 15%, the Energy Savings Guide adds.
There is a partial exception if it would otherwise cause an electricity crisis in the respective member state. However, the steering measures to be taken and whether certain groups of gas consumers are granted more favorable conditions remain at the member state’s discretion.
Regarding electricity, Regulation 2022/1854 on an emergency intervention to address high energy prices aims to reduce electricity consumption by 10% and ease the pressure on electricity prices through revenue caps. Again, member states are free to choose the appropriate measures to reduce gross electricity consumption and meet the 10% target.
Additional rules apply to the fuel consumption of trucks and the energy consumption of district heating and cooling.
From subsidies for all energy consumers to rewards for savings
Again, energy-saving measures differ from country to country. Austria subsidizes energy consumers in general, while Croatia covers gas consumption, but it capped the price of electricity for households, firms and certain public consumers.
Ukraine limited power prices only for households. At the same time, it offers tax incentives for storing gas and subsidies for heat producers, and it also obligated gas storage operators to supply heat producers at preferential prices. Slovakia partly redirected EU funds to support energy consumers.
There is also the model of rewarding the voluntary reduction of gas and electricity consumption, like in Slovenia. Turkey opted for measures to accelerate permitting for wind power plants and photovoltaics.