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Energy efficiency outreach focuses on regional priorities

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The IEA regional energy efficiency policies initiative was born of shared advice among Arab and Southern and Eastern Mediterranean economies.

23 May 2014

Arab and Southern and Eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) countries are increasingly aware of energy efficiency’s multiple benefits, which range from better trade balances and health to increased economic productivity. As energy demand grows at well over 5% per year in parts of the region, decision makers in energy-importing and -exporting nations alike are looking to their neighbours, the IEA and other international organisations for advice.

So despite ongoing regional unrest, experts from public, private, international and intergovernmental institutions of ten economies gathered in Jordan last year for talks that launched a multiyear, global project to tailor energy efficiency policy recommendations to local contexts. The IEA, the Regional Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Arab League hosted the roundtable, held under the patronage of the Jordanian Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources.

Multitude of energy efficiency activities

The experts used the roundtable to share their experiences with ongoing energy efficiency activities in the region. For example, the League of Arab States detailed its Arab Guideline for Improving Electricity Efficiency and Rationalizing Its Consumption at the End User. The plan calls on each member state to prepare a three-year National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEEAP) featuring annual reviews as well as an interim target for execution, with one body assigned responsibility for oversight and co-ordination. The Executive Office of the Arab Ministerial Council of Electricity approved the guideline in 2010.

Officials from Lebanon presented their country’s NEEAP, which was approved in 2011 and covers 14 initiatives, including one to encourage financing of energy efficiency. This initiative is supported by the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Lebanon.

A Tunisian official reported on a national programme that requires companies consuming more than 800 tonnes of oil-equivalent annually to undergo energy audits. Tunisia subsidises up to 70% of the cost of those audits.

An Egyptian expert detailed the country’s efficient-lighting initiative, which targets the residential sector. It combines an energy efficiency and conservation public awareness campaign with the distribution of more than 9 million subsidised compact florescent light bulbs.

A Kuwaiti researcher showcased school-based pilot projects for demand-side management that are the country’s first step towards a comprehensive national plan for rationalising consumption.

Overcoming regional challenges

Despite these and other initiatives, energy efficiency faces many barriers in SEMED-Arab countries. For example, some have a low capacity for enforcing regulatory policies (such as building energy codes) and for testing, manufacturing and servicing energy efficiency products.

A particularly significant barrier in the region is heavy subsidies for energy, which in some countries approach 90% of prices. And like in other countries across the globe, institutional co-ordination across ministries (e.g. energy, construction, industry) can be challenging in SEMED-Arab countries, as can be private-sector capacity for identifying, developing and implementing energy efficiency projects.

To overcome these barriers, the regional experts at the roundtable recommended six priority areas for government policy: cross-sectoral, buildings, appliances/equipment, lighting, transport and industry.

The cross-sectoral recommendations touch on areas ranging from governance, investment and data collection to strategies and subsidies. The buildings and appliance recommendations urge mandatory energy codes for buildings, minimum energy performance requirements, and test standards and measurement protocols. The lighting recommendations suggest the phase-out of inefficient products and the promotion of high-efficiency street lighting.

The transport recommendations cover a large array of policies, from mandatory vehicle fuel-economy standards and fleet renewal programmes to eco-driving and public transport system improvements. Policies for industry also span a wide range, covering energy management high-efficiency industrial equipment (notably motors), and energy efficiency services for small and medium-sized enterprises.

The results are now available in the IEA booklet Regional Energy Efficiency Policy Recommendations: Arab-Southern and Eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) Region.

Exporting the initiative’s success globally

From the SEMED-Arab roundtable, the programme has spread to tailor energy efficiency policy recommendations to regional contexts elsewhere.

The IEA, supported by the Asian Development Bank and the International Copper Association and under the patronage of the Indonesian government, hosted a December 2013 meeting in Jakarta for South East Asian experts. Future roundtables are planned for Central and West Asia and Latin America. Conclusions from these talks will inform national policy making and guide regional energy efficiency exchanges, and will be published in the IEA report Energy Efficiency Policy Recommendations for Emerging Economies.


This article by Sara Bryan Pasquier, programme manager in the IEA Energy Efficiency Unit, appears in the new issue of IEA Energy: The Journal of the International Energy Agency.  The IEA produces IEA Energy, but analysis and views contained in the journal are those of individual IEA analysts and not necessarily those of the IEA Secretariat or IEA member countries, and are not to be construed as advice on any specific issue or situation. Click here to read the new and earlier issues of IEA Energy, and click here to send a request a free subscription.

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