Wednesday 18 April 2018

Fifty years ago, on 2nd April 1968, Stanley Kubrick’s film “2001 A Space Odyssey” was released in cinemas. Although I didn’t get to see the movie for another 5 years or so I first heard about it at about that time from my primary school teacher Mrs. Wright who told our class all about it, (she was an unusual and exceptional teacher).  A year later I purchased an Arrow paperback edition from our schools paperback book club, a copy I still have, and was hooked.


As regular readers will know one of my great interests is space exploration and “2001” helped cement that interest which was originally sparked by the regular space flights of the late sixties culminating in the moon landings between 1969 and 1972.  The screenplay of “2001” was developed by Arthur C. Clarke and based on one of his short stories called “The Sentinel”.  It explores powerful themes of exploration, evolution, human existence, life in the universe, and the rise of artificial intelligence. It remains for me the ultimate science fiction film (and book).


Deeply controversial on release, “2001” broke with convention with little dialogue. It shows a future where space travel is routine and run by familiar corporations such as Pan Am, (a once successful and pioneering US airline for younger readers), and Hilton – a future we may yet get to through the efforts of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and other space tourism pioneers. It is often said that HAL 9000, the AI running the Discovery spaceship on its mission to Jupiter, is the most human character. HAL is programmed with incompatible objectives and finally commits an insane act of murder to resolve his inner conflict.  Although talked about as a warning of the dangers of AI, HAL also represents the danger of contradictory programming in the human brain.


Astronaut Dave Bowman’s journey through the star gate is a wild trip, apparently often enjoyed under the effect of hallucinogenic drugs in the 1960s & 70s, and ends with his intelligence effectively being downloaded into the universe itself.


The visual effects required new technologies to be developed and of course all were shot on film without any aid of computers. The sets and the spacecraft are amazing and the use of classical music, particularly Richard Strauss’s “Thus Spake Zarathusa” is awe inspiring. “2001” which truly is the master piece of two geniuses, Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, remains as inspiring and relevant as it was fifty years ago.



Normal energy related service will be resumed soon.

Monday 5 March 2018

The application of the Investor Confidence Project (ICP) continues to grow across the USA, Europe and Canada, with growing interest from India, China, the Middle East and Africa.   It is easy to get carried away with thinking the ICP is the answer to the problem of how do we significantly accelerate investment into energy efficiency but, as I have always said, it is just one piece – albeit a very important piece – of solving that problem.  I have summarized my thinking in the “jigsaw of energy efficiency financing” which has four pieces which need to be in place in the same market at the same time for investment to flow – standardization (ICP), pipelines of projects, finance (development finance as well as project finance), and capacity building for end-users, the energy efficiency industry and the finance industry.


ICP is at its heart just about helping project developers to develop better projects, higher quality projects with a higher probability of delivering the savings that are predicted.  Within ICP we always said that by doing that it would bring reduced transaction costs and reduced performance risk.  That hypothesis has been validated by MunichRe HSB who as part of their energy efficiency performance insurance offer ICP certified projects lower costs through both removing the need for clients to pay for a separate engineering assessment, and through lower insurance premiums.  The use of energy efficiency performance insurance from a global player like MunichRe HSB can help make projects more bankable through taking on performance risks.


Another element of improving the flow of investment into energy efficiency is building better business cases.  Better business cases come about through better underlying projects and better appraisal of value and risks.  Business cases that just say this is the capex and this is the projected energy cost savings are not good enough anymore and just result in projects not proceeding and frustrated project developers.  This is where the EEFIG Underwriting Toolkit comes in.  The Toolkit is a framework that encourages financiers assessing projects to identify all sources of value including the non-energy benefits such as health, well-being and better productivity – many of which are both more valuable and more strategic than just simple energy cost savings.  The Toolkit also explore the risks of energy efficiency projects which for too long have been ignored.  We need to move from the uncertainty of not knowing the real risks of projects to fully understanding and quantifying the risks – just like the financial industry does for other asset classes.  Pretending there is no risk, or just living with uncertainty is not good enough as uncertainty is a major barrier to investment flowing at scale.


So, if you want to increase the flow of capital into energy efficiency develop better projects and build better business cases.

Tuesday 27 February 2018

Growing up I loved anything to do with the future – particularly the 21st century. TV21 was the comic to read and it was full of stories about life in the 21st century, Thunderbirds, space travel etc.  In some respects reality has not lived up to those dreams, although Elon Musk is doing his best to make them come true , but in other ways we already live in a world long described by science fiction – universal communicators for all (mobile phones), and a giant computer that can answer any question (the internet).


When I started to really think about and practice energy management, it was back in the 20th century and it seems as if some of the ways of thinking about energy management remain stuck in the 20th century.  Now we are nearly 20% of the way through the 21st century, (hard to believe I know), we need to refresh our thinking and bring energy management into the 21st century.


Let’s consider some aspects of energy management and efficiency and compare 20th century thinking and 21st century thinking.


Aspect 20th century thinking 21st century thinking
Energy audits Energy audits lead to projects being implemented.

Energy audits should be mandatory.

Energy audits on their own don’t lead to anything – there needs to be top level commitment & energy audits are just a tool to use when you are committed to addressing energy efficiency.

Energy audits need to feed into better business cases that identify, value and risk appraise all sources of value, i.e. all the energy and non-energy benefits.

The benefits of improving energy efficiency The benefits are energy cost savings. The direct environmental benefits e.g. tonnes of CO2 avoided may be a social benefit for CSR reporting. There are multiple non-energy benefits – many of which are far more strategic and interesting to decision makers than mere energy cost reduction.

Energy savings may be the least attractive benefit of a project that improves energy efficiency and should be sold last – as a co-benefit to the non-energy benefits.

Monitoring and Targeting (M&T) and Measurement and Verification (M&V) There should be enterprise level M&T with some project specific M&V on large projects. Anything else beyond that, sub-metering etc., is expensive. M&T, M&V, data collection and analysis is cheap. The advent of big data analytics can identify savings opportunities even in systems that are believed to be close to optimum.

Monitoring is a part of ISO 50001’s Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle and is embedded into every Energy Management System.

Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) & Energy Performance Contracts (EPCs) ESCOs and EPCs are the answer to all our problems. ESCOs and EPCs are applicable in some limited circumstances, mainly in the public sector. They are not the only answer and they definitely don’t work at all in most sectors. ESCOs and EPCs are only one of many ways to bring finance to energy efficiency projects.
Measurement of energy saving It is hard to measure because it is a counter-factual and is invisible. It can’t be metered. Units of energy saved can be metered and calculated just like units of energy delivered.
Energy efficiency is somehow special It is a stand alone activity. It is a “crusade”. It should have a higher priority than everything else. Energy efficiency is part of an integrated energy (& resource) solution including self-generation, demand response etc. Good energy management is one aspect of good management.
Project development Project development is non-standardised and every project is developed and documented in a different way. Every project developer has some “secret sauce” in developing projects even when the technologies are well known and standard. Project development and documentation can be standardised using systems such as Investor Confidence Project’s Investor Ready Energy EfficiencyTM.

Standardization of project development and documentation is essential for aggregation and growing the finance market. Project developers don’t really have “secret sauce”.

Making the business case The business case is purely about capital expenditure versus the value of the energy savings over the life of the project. The business case is about the capex versus the value of multiple energy and non-energy benefits over the life of the project, of which energy savings is just one. The non-energy benefits may be more strategic and attractive to decision makers than just energy savings.
Risk and uncertainty Energy efficiency projects have low, or even “zero risk”. This was often stated even though we had no data and in fact outcomes were uncertain. Recognition that energy efficiency projects do have risk although we often can’t quantify the risk at the moment. Risk is generally low across portfolios of projects & becoming better known and understood but for individual projects actual risks are less well known.
Energy management A practice that is hard to systematise and is highly dependent on individuals. A practice that can be systematised and embedded into the operation of an enterprise through the application of ISO 50001.
The value of a kWh saved Is the same at all times and in all locations. Is highly time and location specific.
Project development Optimise the components. Optimise systems e.g. integrated design (which is still not very common at all).
Energy prices Always go up. Go up and down.
The availability of investment There is no money for energy efficiency. There is a lot of money for energy efficiency – just a shortage of well developed, bankable projects
Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and Finance Directors Chief Financial Officers are stupid for not investing in these “no brainer” projects with very rapid payback periods. CFOs may be rational in not investing i.e. they may have more strategic things to invest in, or they may consider the benefits uncertain because they have not seen the evidence or they don’t believe the assessment.
Low hanging fruit There are a lot of no-cost and low-cost projects that can be implemented easily – “low hanging fruit”. There still are many no-cost and low-cost measures that could be implemented through better energy management (EnMS) and applying ISO 50001. We should however ban the phrase as even no-cost and low-cost measures require effort.
Energy efficiency Comes about through specific retro-fit projects with the aim of reducing energy costs. Comes about through retro-fit investments, investment into plant and building refurbishments carried out for other, non-energy, reasons, and through investment in new plant and buildings that improve the average efficiency of the sector.
Renewables One day they may be viable. They are cost effective in many situations.
Energy storage “Electricity cannot be stored”.

Only viable in massive hydro-electric schemes.

The holy grail of energy studies.

Available in several forms.

Rapidly becoming cheaper.

Economically viable in many situations behind the meter and in the grid.



Wednesday 14 February 2018

My eye was recently drawn to an interesting headline; “How to do business with doughnuts”, which was the title of a thought provoking article by Kate Raworth of the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University.  Kate’s work on “doughnut economics”, which I had not found before, is really worth exploring.  Soon after I saw a piece about Brian Chesky’s, the Co-founder and CEO of AirBnB, letter to stakeholders about what a 21st century company should look like. There seemed to be a connection but let’s deal with the doughnuts first.


In Kate Raworth’s model the doughnut is a ring that sets out to define boundaries set by ecology and by social conditions.  In many areas such as climate change and biodiversity we are clearly exceeding the ecological limits. On the social factors we have massive deficits as billions of people still fall short on even basic essentials.  The challenge is how to meet the social needs without exceeding the ecological limits i.e. how to live within the doughnut.


Kate Raworth lists five reactions to the diagram she has had when talking to a range of corporates about this idea over the last six years.  They are characterised as:

  1. Do nothing
  2. Do what pays
  3. Do your fair share
  4. Do mission zero
  5. Be generative

Brian Chesky’s letter to stakeholders talks about building a company for the 21st century and even the 22nd century ie a long-term focus rather than a focus on short-term results.  For AirBnB this means:

  1. we will have an infinite time horizon
  2. we will serve all of our stakeholders

Both Kate Raworth’s work and Brian Chesky’s letter address some fundamental questions we should all to be concerned with – what are businesses for, (both on an individual enterprise level and a social level), and how should they be organized and operate to best serve their purpose?


This caused me to consider what does this kind of thinking mean in an energy context, specifically for energy consuming (i.e. all?) businesses?  Using Kate Raworth’s five responses as a guide:


Do nothing means simply that – don’t bother about energy consumption and costs at all. In the corporate world this is unusual, at least in larger companies in the developed world.  In other markets and SMEs it is still common.


Do what pays means reduce energy costs by investing in cost-effective projects.  This could be characterised as “standard energy management” which most corporates have.  Even where there is energy management many very cost-effective projects are not implemented for a number of reasons including; uncertainty about the outcomes and competing and more strategic demands on capital.  A lot of work on energy management, including my own, has been about improving the do what pays model to maximize the uptake of the huge economic potential that we know exists, and maximizing the returns.


Do your fair share means committing to science based targets for reducing emissions.  Adopting science based targets appears to be growing, at least amongst large corporates. A recent example is TH Real Estate, one of the largest real estate investment managers in the world, with equity investments in nearly 900 office, retail, industrial and residential assets globally.


Do mission zero means committing to a goal like net zero energy or net zero emissions. A net zero energy building or facility would put back as much energy as it uses into the system or grid.  Of course there are deeper questions here, generating on-site energy in a way that has higher emissions per kWh than the grid may be net zero energy but not net zero emissions. IKEA has committed to use 100% renewables by 2020.


Be generative means going beyond zero energy or zero emissions and building a business that is net positive in energy and emissions.  This may include supporting energy production in excess of usage, something that Unilever is targeting for 2030, or a business that removes carbon dioxide from the environment, either through a production process making something, such as cement production that absorbs CO2, or whose main revenue generating activity is removing CO2 from the atmosphere, (which of course would require a value to be ascribed to a tonne of CO2).


To build a 21st century enterprise (or for that matter a 22nd century enterprise), we need to consider many factors – both technical, financial, social and human.  It seems, however, that such an enterprise would at least be working to improve its position on the doughnut in relation to energy and the environment.  That means moving energy management beyond the “do what pays” model – what we may call a 20th century model – into at the very least a “do your fair share” model, and ultimately into a “mission zero” and “generative” model.  The doughnut gives us a new model for categorising the response of companies to energy problems.

Tuesday 16 January 2018

It has been a while since I have had a chance to write a blog because I have been very busy working with our JV partner EESL as well as on other projects.  In November I made my first ever visit to India to speak at the INSPIRE event, so it seemed appropriate to write about energy efficiency in India.


First of all when you look at India you have to get used to the big numbers, starting with 1.3 billion people, installed electrical capacity of 331 GW, and economic growth rates of 7 to 8%.  When you project current trends forward you quickly realise that energy efficiency in India is a matter that should concern the whole world.  If India gets it right the world has some chance of meeting climate related targets.  A clear example of this is air conditioning which is vital in most parts of India, and is a market set to grow dramatically.  At the moment the market penetration of room air conditioners (RACs) is only 4-5%, roughly where it was in China in 1995 (compared to a c.53% market penetration in China today).  The projected growth of RAC in India as incomes increase could result in additional peak loads of 143 GW (about twice the total UK installed capacity!), requiring 300 additional 500 MW power stations.  Work is currently under way on a national cooling strategy which aims to mitigate the growth in power demand from cooling and will include measures such as enhanced efficiency regulations on RACs, driving innovation in cooling, promotion of passive cooling, and district cooling using trigeneration.


Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) is a central player in the Indian energy efficiency market.  EESL was established in 2009 by the Ministry of Power as a JV of four utilities, the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), Rural Electrification Corporation (REC), Power Finance Corporation (PFC) and Power Grid Corporation (PGICL).  The vision behind EESL is to unlock the $11 billion market for energy efficiency, amounting to 15% of present consumption.  EESL works closely with the Bureau of Energy Efficiency and leads the market related activities of the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency.  From 2009 to 2013 little progress was made and then there was a change of leadership that led to amazing results, including growing revenues 46 times.


EESL is best known for its LED programme, UJALA, which has distributed more than 270 million LEDs across India.  EESL’s model of aggregating demand and large scale procurement has driven the price of LEDs down by a factor of ten.  Critically the UJALA programme does not rely on any subsidies, it is a commercial model in which consumers and utilities pay as they save.  The savings have been around $338 million.  Another effect of the growth of the LED market has been a surge in domestic manufacturing.  LED production in India has grown from 5 million units in 2013 to 600 million units in 2017, creating 185,000 jobs in 2016/17.  The UJALA programme aims to replace 770 million LEDs by 2019.


A similar aggregation approach has been applied by EESL to replacing street lighting. As well as using LEDs EESL has implemented a Centralised Control and Monitoring System (CCMS) for street lighting that provides remote monitoring 24×7.  Globally we have started to recognise the importance of non-energy strategic benefits of energy efficiency and EESL has taken steps to measure these through social audits which show that citizens are a lot more satisfied with the LED lighting and feel an enhanced sense of safety and security.


EESL has also moved into several other key areas including agricultural pumps, domestic appliances, smart meters and electric vehicles (EVs). Towards the end of 2017 EESL procured 10,000 EVs to lease to government departments (which have a huge fleet of cars for the use of officials).  The procurement brought the price of the EVs down by 25%. EESL will lease the EVs and charging infrastructure to departments for less than they currently pay for petrol driven cars. A further procurement of EVs will follow.


As the world’s largest publicly owned super-ESCO EESL has been remarkably successful.  It has been highlighted by the International Energy Agency and the World Bank as a model for deploying energy efficiency at scale and it is certainly a model that all countries can learn from, North as well as South.  At EnergyPro we are proud to be working with EESL to combine both sets of experience to build a portfolio of projects in Europe and beyond.



The data in this blog has mainly been taken from the EESL coffee table book: “UJALA. I LED the way.”  With thanks to EESL and AEEE for the opportunity to present at the INSPIRE event in Jaipur. 


For further information regarding INSPIRE 2017: INSPIRE 2017 papers can be found here and the INSPIRE 2017 Report can be found here.

Dr Steven Fawkes

Welcome to my blog on energy efficiency and energy efficiency financing. The first question people ask is why my blog is called 'only eleven percent' - the answer is here. I look forward to engaging with you!

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