The project “European Energy Service Initiative towards the EU 2020 energy saving targets” (EESI 2020), which was implemented between 2013 and 2016 by a consortium of European energy agencies and energy experts with support of the European Commission’s Intelligent Energy Europe Programme, has been addressing ways to improve the impact of Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) in 9 European regions. The brochure presenting the final project results has been published.
To improve the sustainability and the scaling up of the business model, EPC schemes on the regional level were supported by creating task forces, by including EPC in regional energy plans and by assisting pilot projects. In nine metropolitan regions, a total of 27 EPC pilot projects have been realised within EESI 2020, with cumulative investments in energy efficiency of more than 26 M€, leading to average energy cost savings more than 30%, reducing CO2 emissions by 16.000 tons per year.
Additionally EESI 2020 promoted the role of EPC facilitators through dedicated capacity building measures: Facilitation materials in 9 languages have been elaborated, including a project database with over 50 best practices (see also the article below), a detailed facilitator guideline and training modules. Furthermore, some 800 energy stakeholders have participated in EPC facilitator trainings within the project, broadening the available expertise to spark further growth in the EPC markets.
With the European Energy Service Award, successful projects, promoters and providers of energy services – many of them in the context of EPC – received public recognition within high-level awarding events in Brussels 2014 and 2015.
In the evaluation of the project activities and especially the pilot projects, barriers preventing the stronger uptake of EPC have been identified: High complexity of EPC, trust in the ESCO services, but also a cultural barrier persisting between public building owners and private ESCOs. Furthermore, EPC is currently focussed too much on public buildings, while for private building owners adapted business models still need to be developed.
The Eurostat Guidance Note on EPC published in 2015, which restricts off-balance accounting of EPC projects, is seen clearly counter-productive for EPC especially in less mature markets, as the bureaucratic burden for starting projects is being increased by the ruling.
However, the EESI 2020 project also identified and further developed success factors for EPC. Through qualified EPC facilitation, many of the non-technical barriers can be tackled successfully. An experienced neutral facilitator can support EPC clients in identifying new EPC projects, provide his expertise in the complex procurement process and help bridging the cultural divide between the public and the private side. This will ultimately lead to increased experience, smother management, lower transaction costs and thus a stronger market development on the demand side.