Columnists: Rod Janssen, Independent consultant

Published on: 19 Jun 2018

Industrial Efficiency 2018 – taking stock

I was one of the co-chairs of eceee Industry Efficiency 2018, the biannual event focussing on the industrial sector.  There were three extremely full days discussing industrial energy efficiency from every angle imaginable. Over 230 participants listened to presentations from authors who had submitted (and accepted) papers and abstracts, from invited speakers for the plenary sessions and the side events. There were also two pre-conference events arranged by the ODYSSEE-MURE project on benchmarking of national energy efficiency policies and the TrustEE project on financing.

The papers and presentations are available on the eceee website and I encourage you to have a look at them.  Even if you are not directly involved in energy efficiency, by the fact that you read eceee news and columnists, you have shown an interest in various aspects of energy efficiency. Just reviewing what happened gives you a good impression of the progress made in data collection, policy analysis, technology improvements, innovation, programme design and impact. (See presentations from plenaries, workshops and side events on the industry programme pages, and the papers and panel presentations in eceee’s proceedings library).

While one can feel good about the event, including meeting old friends and colleagues as well as new ones, there is need for sober reflection.

Here are my six takeaways:

  1. There was frustration that there were no industrialists (consumers) at the event. It would be good if that could be remedied but I am not overly concerned. The traditional eceee event held every two years does not normally get consumers (people and organisations) either.  They get analysts who study the behaviour and attitudes of consumers but we also get that at the industrial event.
  1. Undoubtedly, there is a need to have a better understanding of industrial consumer behaviour (both for SMEs and for large industry). That way advice can be better designed and delivered to better create awareness, understand the technical options, help stakeholders decide on investment decisions and give them the confidence to take action.  However, this is true in all sectors. This means understanding industrial energy consumer priorities and how improved energy efficiency fits into (or doesn’t fit into) those priorities. It also means providing the right policy and market signals to motivate these consumers (I leave that to your imagination how to do that).
  1. Knowing industrial consumers is important. Equally important is knowing the role of intermediaries since they play key roles in advice, installation, provision of appropriate technologies, auditing services, business case development, financial support and so on.
  1. There is simply not enough effort on data collection and analysis on the energy demand side. While it has improved, if improved energy efficiency is to play a greater part in meeting our Paris climate obligations, then we need to know more. It was mentioned umpteen times at the industry event that we need to document better what the non-energy benefits are.  Undoubtedly we need to know what energy efficiency can do to meet our social and economic priorities.  Improved energy efficiency is an important policy tool but it is a means to an end, not an end in itself.  So, when Europe needs to improve the competitiveness of its industry in the global market place, we need to know how energy efficiency can improve that competitiveness. But the starting point is not energy efficiency.
  1. We need better focused policies that deliver results. Several times the mandatory audit required for large industry that is in Article 8 of the Energy Efficiency Directive was discussed. There is an obligation to have an audit but that is where it ends.  Two member states (or parts of two countries) have some form of obligation to have the recommendations implemented but that is not good enough. If there is to be such an obligation, it won’t be credible unless it is part of a complete package and leads to action and energy savings (and/or GHG emissions reductions).
  1. Europe is in the midst of the low-carbon energy transition. Now two countries are at the same stage and no one would really expect them to be. The important point is that it has to be appreciated what role improved energy efficiency plays with its “partner” policy fields of renewable energy, energy storage, carbon capture and storage/use and so on.  Too often these fields work in silos and are not integrated enough to maximise effectiveness. While it is good to find champions for energy efficiency, it is more important to find champions for the low-carbon energy transition.

Obviously more can be said, but let’s hear from you now.

The eceee should be congratulated for the excellent organisation for this event. This is now the fourth one dedicated to industrial energy efficiency. They get better each time. The quality of the analysis has been improving. The level of interest from a wide range of stakeholders (minus the industrial consumers) has definitely increased. eceee has an important role to play because it is seen as a credible organisation trying to provide a level playing field. Hopefully eceee will work more in industrial energy efficiency in the interval between the biannual events so as to stimulate even more interest in the subject.

As Ernst von Weizsäcker said in the final plenary: “Come On.” See plenary page.

Industrial Efficiency 2018 – taking stock

The views expressed in this column are those of the columnist and do not necessarily reflect the views of eceee or any of its members.

Other columns by Rod Janssen

Oct 2016

Apr 2016

Nov 2011