Introduction

Under Section 10 of the Federal Energy Efficiency Act,(1) certain energy utilities which commercially supply end consumers with energy in Austria must, as of 2015, take energy efficiency measures on an annual basis. The energy efficiency measures must equal 0.6% of the supplier's energy set-off in the previous year.

Until recently, neither comprehensive specifications as to which energy efficiency measures were eligible to fulfil this target nor detailed calculation mechanisms to determine the extent to which certain energy efficiency measures contributed to the energy supplier's energy saving target were in place.

On November 30 2015 the minister for science, research and economy released an ordinance enacting these long-awaited specifications.(2) The ordinance derogated an earlier method document,(3) which provided for an interim method to evaluate energy efficiency measures but left a series of legal uncertainties.

Overview

The ordinance provides:

  • methods for measuring, evaluating and attributing certain energy efficiency measures; and
  • specifications with regard to the documentation of these energy efficiency measures.

Under Section 15 – the legislative centrepiece of the ordinance – apart from the prerequisites set out in the Federal Energy Efficiency Act, energy efficiency measures can be credited against the energy supplier's saving target only if:

  • they were set within the period for which they will contribute to achieving the target and were notified until February 14 of the following year;
  • they have been duly documented (as specified by a generalised method or through individual assessment – see below);
  • it is clear to which energy supplier they are attributed;
  • they were taken in Austria and thus the end energy efficiency was increased in Austria;
  • they were not fully subsidised by Austria or its federal states;
  • they are not substitutes (as set out under Section 21 of the Federal Energy Efficiency Act); and
  • all other legal obligations have been met.

Section 3 of the ordinance further outlines that energy efficiency measures can be credited against the energy supplier's energy saving target only if they correspond to either a so-called 'generalised method' or undergo an individual assessment.

A generalised method is a general group of systematically similar energy efficiency measures. Annex I to the ordinance contains a description of the generalised methods enacted thus far and includes energy efficiency measures in the fields of:

  • heating systems and warm water supply;
  • thermal improvement of buildings;
  • cooling systems;
  • electric lightning;
  • mobility;
  • creation of energy efficiency awareness; and
  • solar thermal installations.

For each energy efficiency measure caught by a generalised method, Annex I provides for:

  • a description of the measure;
  • a formula by which the energy efficiency increase can be determined;
  • default figures for the measure (eg, lifespan and energy saving factors);
  • the methodical approach of the method;
  • the date on which the respective method entered into force;
  • a definition of when and under which circumstances the energy efficiency increase has been achieved; and
  • a specification on how the measure will be documented.

If no generalised method exists, or an energy supplier can substantially demonstrate grounds why a generalised method should not be applied, an individual assessment will be undertaken to evaluate whether and to what extent a certain energy efficiency measure accounts for the supplier's energy saving target. The methodical approach used to create generalised methods (as defined in Sections 3 through 10 of the ordinance) applies mutatis mutandis to the individual assessment.

Comment

The ordinance has enacted long-awaited specifications for the accountability of energy efficiency measures and will help energy suppliers to reach their saving targets in the most economically favourable way. That said, a series of legal uncertainties must still be overcome. One of the most economically relevant questions refers to the transfer and 'banking' of energy efficiency measures.

For further information on this topic please contact Bernd Rajal or Mark Tuttinger at Schoenherr by telephone (+43 1 53 43 70) or email (b.rajal@schoenherr.eu or m.tuttinger@schoenherr.eu).The Schoenherr website can be accessed at www.schoenherr.eu.

Endnotes

(1) Federal Gazette I 72/2014.

(2) Federal Gazette II 394/2015.

(3) Energieeffizienzmonitoringstelle, Methode zur richtlinienkonformen Bewertung der Zielerreichung gem der Energieeffizienz- und Energiedienstleistungsrichtline 2006/32/EG.

This article was first published by the International Law Office, a premium online legal update service for major companies and law firms worldwide. Register for a free subscription.