EU Leaders Ignoring Industrial Efficiency Failings

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Despite recently holding talks on how to improve Europe's energy security, it seems that the region's leaders are unaware of the energy-efficiency issues facing its key industrial sectors, the Responding to Climate Change (RTCC) website reports.
Leaders of the European Council met in March to discuss their strategy for improving the region's energy security, starting with the establishment of an Energy Union. However, this union focuses more on improving the efficiency of transport and buildings, than on that of industry.
Although buildings and transport are the largest sources of energy consumption in Europe, accounting for a respective 40% and 32% of the region's total energy usage, industry comes close behind at 26% - meaning that its efficiency levels should be a key concern.
According to recent analysis by the European Environment Agency (EEA), the energy efficiency of European heavy industry has dropped for the first time in ten years. This is further supported by data that shows declining efficiency levels in Britain's food, steel and chemicals industries.
Energy intensity - or energy consumption per unit of output - is one measure that's used to calculate energy efficiency. But after more than a decade of falling energy intensity levels in Europe's industrial sectors, it is now starting to rise.
One reason for this could be the fixed costs and energy usage required by these industries. When these did not fall in correlation with a drop in output (caused by the financial crisis), it led to an increase in energy intensity levels.
As well as this, the economic downturn meant that there was less investment in things such as equipment upgrades, energy management software and building improvements, which can significantly improve the energy efficiency of factories and warehouses.
The EEA stated in its report that: "Since 2008, in the steel, cement and chemicals industries there were no more improvements (in energy intensity), and even a reverse trend with an increasing specific consumption."
So, despite positive signs of energy usage reduction in areas such as residential housing, it seems that more needs to be done to prevent this apparent downwards trend in manufacturing efficiency.
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