Energy efficiency: a programme of promise? Technology marketing agency, Content Coms, investigates

Europe’s Investor Confidence Project (ICP) seeks to revolutionise energy efficiency uptake. Can it deliver? 

Energy efficiency is repeatedly described as a simple, quick and long term financial and environmental win for business.

But given its benefits, actual uptake seems disconcertingly low. ICP seeks to alter this. In recent comments, Steven Fawkes, Senior Advisor to ICP, has some impressive numbers.

“Energy efficiency is potentially the biggest value opportunity on the planet, “ says Steven, standing in Westminster where his infamous ancestor also made history. “The world spends $6 trillion on energy so saving one third would equate to $2 trillion savings. Are we saying we don’t need this?”

These are impressive numbers. The $2 trillion he alludes to doesn’t even touch on less quantifiable benefits; better lit offices, better health at work, all catalysed by holistic energy efficiency measures.

For Steven, and ICP for that matter, the numbers illustrate a strange disconnect between the promised land of energy efficiency, and today’s consumption heavy reality.

Why are obvious efficiency wins unrealised?

Perhaps technology marketing agencies are failing; could marketing companies for energy efficient technology step up? Steven argues energy efficiency wins are complex; varying from business to business. His reasoning; tech is full of complexities, easier finance is required.

“What if a package was available that could make investing in energy efficiency as easy as investing in renewable energy?” he argues. “What if investors could be given the confidence they need and a standardised approach that reduces high transaction costs?”

ICP’s infographic shows how it envisages six steps to energy efficiency. They trace a project from origination to development, assurance, underwriting and completion.

ICP believes its Investor Ready Energy Efficiency Roadmap will give the industry a boost. Under it, new energy efficiency projects would be signed off to meet ICP compliance standards.

Then, investors stump up the cash, reassured by ICP’s protocol. They win a stake in the money from efficiency savings, providing the initial capital to get efficiency work off the ground.

Ultimately, investors are paid back, transparency gets the sector moving, and we see a hike in actual retrofits and sustainability on the ground. Or so ICP would have us believe.

It all sounds fantastic. “At Content Coms, we feel energy efficiency offers truly promising solutions,” comments Jo Watchman, Managing Director and Founder.

“But we still fail to see the overarching, mainstream uptake that would genuinely embed market changing conditions for business to get involved.”
Watchman, evidently a clear advocate of energy efficiency, would certainly smile should ICP’s promised land become reality.

Where is energy efficiency now?

New Frost and Sullivan (F&S) analysis hints at positive examples. The European smart thermostats market is set to boom, driven by the 2020 targets on climate change and mandatory energy efficiency certification for buildings.

F&S ‘Analysis of the European Smart Thermostats Market,’ finds the market earned revenues of $152.5 million in 2014 and estimates this to rocket up to $2,570.6 million in 2019.

The UK, France and Germany are set to make up most of the  growth. “Rapidly increasing awareness among customers on the user friendliness and comfort of smart thermostats is spurring demand in Europe,” says F&S Energy and Environmental Research Analyst Dhivya Sundara Manohar.

“Moreover, the market is at an advantage since it is not significantly limited by government regulations.” Financing smart thermostat rollouts across UK business estates could be just the sphere where ICP’s ideas might run.

“In this technology oriented market, frequent upgrades to sensors, connectivity, and interface are essential,” notes Dhivya. “Manufacturers must also react quickly to the need for bulk volumes by expanding production capacity.”

All this needs one thing, sufficient upfront capital. Right now, it is hard to quantify future success for ICP. But transparency, trust, confidence in payback and fluid finance sound like the perfect tools.

Can they finally dismantle the baffling failure of energy efficiency to deliver its world changing potential? Time will tell.

Content Coms is one of the UK’s leading B2B communications consultancies specialising in the energy, low carbon and technology sectors. If you’ve enjoyed our article, how about reading more of our energy news and analysis?

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