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CEEA’s Efficiency Matters Blog

Energy Efficiency Business Trends from the EE Global Forum

Collaborating with governments is the key to energy efficiency market expansion

The Canadian embassy in Washington just received its Energy Star certification. Photo by Toni Syvänen

How to get governments to support the market expansion of energy efficiency businesses is just one topic that has kept my mind busy since May’s EE Global Forum in Washington.  More internationally diverse than last year’s – there were people from South Korea, Mexico and France – the wide-range of topics covered attracted a variety of senior executives, from Whirlpool and Philips to ThyssenKrupp and CEEA member Dow. It’s also an event that is important politically. Senators Shaheen and Portman were there along with Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz.

I sat on the panel How can governments across the globe collaborate to make EE a priority? Joined by Amit Bando, US Agency for International Development, Barry Bredenkamp of South African National Energy Development Institute, Nicholas Howarth from the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center, and Robert Ichord  from the Bureau of Energy Resources, U.S. Department of State, our consensus was that cities are likely our greatest opportunity to make a difference. While our unique climate issues are different from one another we understand the solutions can be similar. NAIMA’s Jay Nordenstrom was actually on an interesting related panel on the best energy efficiency building practices from around the world and how they differ between climates.

How to boost trade for energy efficient products and services

One thing became clear at the forum — cooperation between different levels of government is essential for businesses to be successful. It truly is a big trade mover. The cooperation between the US Department of Energy and the US State Dept. is very impressive, that relationship has made ee businesses successful globally. As a result the US is making in-roads in markets like India, China and Indonesia. Seeing energy efficiency as a trade opportunity, the US leads the way on developing building codes and selling energy efficient products and services. The Alliance to Save Energy, the forum host, is working with its members and is bringing their expertise and solutions to 30 countries including India, Mexico, Armenia, the Ukraine, South Africa as well as China and its eco-cities program.

The World Bank is proving successful through its International Finance Corporation (IFC). It works to find private sector solutions for developing sustainable enterprises around the world. An investor in renewables, primarily wind and solar, the IFC is also investing in energy efficiency machinery.

Why financing for energy efficient businesses is tricky

Of course financing continues to be a challenge in energy efficiency. We need to find a way to make it easier for financial institutions to consistently evaluate and measure results. Financiers at the forum said too many measurement methods were being used to determine the viability of a project. For example solar projects use kilowatts or megawatts for measuring how much energy is saved and fuels use other measurements.  Let’s remember financiers are not engineers, we need to develop programs they can understand.

Droughts, social benchmarking and on-bill financing, oh my

Leader of the Pack: Danish Ambassador Peter Taksøe-Jensen receives the EE Visionary Award at the forum.

Other hot topics in energy efficiency included:
Droughts: Water was understandably a much bigger theme this year with the droughts going on in the US.
Improving social benchmarking: It haunts everyone, how can you get more than a 20 per cent take up of energy efficiency programs.
Why on-bill financing isn’t popular: Seen as too complicated and burdened with red tape, programs must be simple and application easy.  Scott Johnstone from Vermont Energy Investment Corporation was very interesting on this subject and gave a shout out to Energy Efficiency Nova Scotia for a successful program they worked on together.
Globalization of energy efficiency: The market for conservation is picking up outside of the OECD countries. Saudi Arabia, Asia, India, and Africa are all interested, especially about tighter building envelopes that keep things cool, minimizing the need for air conditioning.
EE Visionary Award: Denmark was recognized for its progressive energy efficiency policies and environmental standards. It’s amazing how they maintain a stable economy and manage to use the dollars gained from their resources responsibly. The Danish ambassador to the US accepted the award, saying Denmark aims to be a role model for other countries.

Active Canadian embassy is open for green business

I also had a useful visit at the Canadian Embassy. The embassy building just got its EPA Energy Star certification which means the building performs in the top 25 per cent of similar facilities for energy efficiency and also meets strict energy efficiency performance levels. The embassy is very involved with D.C. Greening Embassies Forum which shares best practices for greening Washington-based embassies. And it’s also important to note that it’s willing to work with Canadian companies that are interested in meeting with the DOE, EPA and World Bank.

The next EE Global Forum will be held in Washington DC on May 12 and 13 2015. Planning is under way and CEEA will be working with ASE and the Canadian embassy to develop some programming. We will keep you posted and hope to see you there.

Posted August 19, 2014

Elizabeth McDonald is president of CEEA