Columnists: Hans Nilsson, Fourfact

Published on: 8 May 2017

What’s in a name?

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, Shakespeare lets Juliet in his play explain that names of things do not affect what they really are: a universal truth that we should remember every day and in many contexts. Also when it comes to energy efficiency!

The IEA recently made a survey of MBI’s (Market Based Instruments). You may ask what is an MBI? You have heard about “Energy Efficiency Resource Standards”, or “Energy Efficiency Obligations” or “White Certificates” but what on earth is an MBI? Well an MBI is all of the above!

Why MBI’s then? That is because of market failures that prevent the realisation of the full potential for energy efficiency, says the IEA. I certainly would agree with that since I wrote a paper for the eceee summer study 2015 named “Being Human is a Market Failure”. But some hard core economists would not. In Sweden these have repeatedly claimed that there are no market failures for energy efficiency and in consequence no need for White Certificates or the like.

But again we may seek our advice from Shakespeare and Juliet! What does it matter what you call things? If the energy efficiency potential is not realised in practical everyday operations we have to do something! No matter what we call it. MBI or something else. And if MBI appeals to decision-makers rather than using another name. FINE! MBI it is!

As Shakespeare would say in today’s context: energy efficiency is “to be”. There is no “not to be.”

Other columns by Hans Nilsson