* EU almost on track to meet current 20 percent goal
* Higher efficiency cuts dependence on Russian gas
* Efficiency would dent oil, gas prices
By Barbara Lewis
BRUSSELS, July 16 The European Commission is
considering an energy saving goal for 2030 of less than 30
percent, according to a document seen by Reuters, setting it at
odds with designated Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
How ambitious an energy efficiency goal the European Union
should set has taken on increased urgency in the context of the
Ukraine crisis because using less energy would curb the EU's
reliance on Russian gas.
Juncker said at the European Parliament on Tuesday: "A
binding 30 percent energy efficiency target is for me the
minimum." The new goal would also mark a retreat from a previous
draft, setting out a target of 30 percent or more.
But because energy savings measures - such as better
insulation for buildings - cost money, they have divided the
European Union and the EU's executive Commission, hence the
wrangling over percentage points.
The draft document seen by Reuters says the aim is to
maintain existing momentum and to achieve that, the Commission
will propose "an ambitious energy efficiency target of 2X
It does not give a precise number, but EU sources said the
2X implied a figure in the 20s and that the Commission had asked
for extra modelling to show the impact of 27 percent and 29
percent goals on the economies of the 28 EU member states.
The new document is a shift from the previous draft, which
said the EU was almost on track to reach its goal of improving
energy savings by a fifth by 2020 and may consider a
significantly higher target for the next decade.
Juncker is expected to take over as Commission president
later this year, meaning he would be in office for legislative
debate on the energy savings goal, which is part of a wider 2030
energy and climate package.
RANGE OF GOALS
The Commission has already asked for modelling of the impact
of a set of goals ranging from 25 percent to 40 percent.
Forty percent is demanded by many environment campaigners -
who say anything in the 20s is not ambitious - and also by the
previous European Parliament prior to elections in May.
The new draft quotes official research that finds using less
energy will lower prices, as well as curbing reliance on Russia.
Russia has cut off gas supplies to Ukraine because of a
pricing dispute, which could have knock-on effects for EU
supplies if the crisis continues as Ukraine is a transit nation
for about half of the gas the EU receives from Russia.
For every additional 1 percent in energy savings, gas prices
will be about 0.4 percent lower and oil prices about 0.1 percent
lower by 2030, the document says.
But bigger energy savings goals have a price. The Commission
says 25 percent energy savings would cost an extra 2 billion
euros ($2.7 billion) per year.
The level of 40 percent savings by 2030, it said, would add
costs of roughly 112 billion euros per year.
Environment campaigners say it is not giving enough emphasis
to the benefits.
"If you factor in GDP, employment, energy security, there's
no hesitation at all - the EU must go for higher ambition," said
Brook Riley, climate and energy campaigner at Friends of the
The Commission is expected to publish its views on energy
efficiency later this month. It does not comment on unpublished
documents, which are subject to change.
($1 = 0.7372 Euros)
(Editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Dale Hudson)