The European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ECEEE) is not only Europe’s largest not-for-profit organisation promoting energy efficiency, it is also the biggest cross-sectoral energy efficiency networker to bring the various groups and individuals together to share best practice, learn from experience and find people who they can call on in times of need. Much of the networking is done through the traditional biennial summer studies that bring together 450 energy efficiency experts for a week of intense, informal discussions in a pleasant setting on the various topics related to energy efficiency.
One of ECEEE’s aims is to provide evidence-based knowledge on energy efficiency. ECEEE’s first summer study in 1993 had a paper presented by the Confederation of Danish Industries about the motivation for industry to improve energy efficiency. That same topic could be discussed today, since the need for motivation has never left us. We now know that the area is complex and involves many competences. And it brings together the human dimension with technology.
Consider this example. A Swedish multi-annual audit and support programme challenged the notion of the rational industry. Representatives of Swedish energy intensive industries used to claim they were already doing everything they could to reduce energy consumption. With the support programme, participating companies were offered a small energy tax rebate in return for committing to an energy management system, systematic audits, reporting, etc. Programme evaluations have shown that that this small tax rebate served as a trigger to get the top management’s attention for energy efficiency. The savings that were realised as a consequence of the programme were many times larger than the value of the tax rebate. So, a strict focus on just communicating the costs and benefits of various measures may fall short of achieving its aims as long as we don’t take the behaviour of decision makers into account.
The new Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) has many elements dealing with industrial energy efficiency, mainly relating to energy audits, but this is only a beginning. Even if there’s a will, there is the question of money: how high in investment priorities is energy efficiency? Does the company make it a strategic priority? Where does the funding come from? Energy efficiency investments often have a high up-front cost, and they compete in the making of the business case with other investment needs, making it difficult to justify such expenditure, particularly in a fragile economic situation. In addition the articulation of the value chain at worldwide level makes the assessment of the energy efficiency of production even more difficult. The EED refers to support from energy efficiency obligations and energy service companies. However this is really not enough to move energy efficiency up in the investment priorities within an organisation.
Because of the special nature of the industrial sector, and since there is a need to understand the interaction between policy, behaviour, technology and financing, ECEEE started a dedicated summer study on industrial energy efficiency in 2012. The next one is in June 2014. The summer study will bring together over 200 experts (covering topics as varied as marketing, strategic planning, policy, technology, etc.)
The summer study brings together analysts with those who essentially work on the shop floor. It is this synthesis of needs and experience that creates a synergy to find common solutions. This supports the dialogue with governments to ensure a flow of appropriate policies and with financial institutions to ensure that there is an appreciation of the benefits derived from great energy efficiency.
ECEEE 2014 Industrial Summer Study
Retool for a competitive and sustainable industry
2–5 June, Papendal, Arnhem, Netherlands
By Nils Borg, Executive Director, ECEEE