Monday 25 July 2016
Back in 2010 I was part of a small group asked by Greg Barker, then Minister of State at DECC to “give me five things I can do on energy efficiency”*. Well now that we have a new government and a new department it is time to refresh those five things for the new world we find ourselves in. Since 2010 we have learnt a lot about energy efficiency and how to accelerate investment into it although the reality has yet to catch up with the potential. So here are my five things for Greg Clark.
1. The incorporation of energy into DBEIS is a perfect opportunity to change the narrative around energy and energy efficiency to one of energy productivity. As I have argued in previous blogs energy productivity is a powerful organizing theme for energy policy. It is also really hard to argue against improving productivity, and energy productivity focuses attention on both retrofit and ensuring new infrastructure is as efficient as possible. We know there is a need to improve productivity generally and energy productivity should be one element of that. We need to join the growing list of countries that have set energy productivity targets and establish a clear energy productivity target.
2. Start an independent energy modelling unit that produces demand-side driven models rather than supply-side driven models. Amazingly the UK has never really had this capability in government.
3. Simplify the complex world of business energy tax and reporting in order to free up energy managers time to develop projects.
4. Promote the use of third party investment into energy efficiency by developing a large-scale programme within the government estate. This requires creating a framework approach that brings development capital, implementation capital, a totally standardized approach to developing efficiency projects (see the Investor Confidence Project), and standardized (and public) reporting of results.
5. Move all energy efficiency programmes towards a pay for performance model in which we pay for real measured results and not for stuff. This means using advanced measurement and verification technologies to measure savings against dynamic baselines. Doing this will move us away from the forty year old paradigm that energy efficiency has to be some top down mandated programme and towards a real market where energy efficiency is as reliable as energy supply and can be priced and financed properly.
If I can get away with three other key points; firstly start talking much more about the non-energy benefits of energy efficiency which are usually much more interesting and strategic than energy cost savings, make improving energy productivity a national infrastructure priority and finally pull the plug on Hinkley Point.
By the way I was surprised to hear that DECC officials moved immediately. If only everything in government ran as quickly as the removal/arrival of PMs from Number 10 and the movement of civil servants from one building to another.
* If you want to review the five recommendations see Energy World February 2013
Friday 15 July 2016
The unfolding events since the Referendum result have been hard to comprehend and of course the real implications will only be visible in years to come. I was contemplating writing a piece summarizing my views on the Brexit vote but like with other major, world changing events, it is taking longer to work out what I really want to say. I was also trying to avoid the “Brexit means this for energy/environmental policy” type of piece which we have all been deluged with in the last week. I have given up reading most of these as I think the bottom line is we don’t actually know what it means and most of them are “click bait”. However the splurge of items on the demise of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has pushed me into print.
Clearly, as with everything else, it is too early to tell what the implications are going to be but I actually think it could be a positive move because it may focus attention more on the energy demand side than the supply side. Let’s not forget, the real origin of DECC and in fact Departments of Energy in nearly all countries is the energy industry. In the UK and the USA more than 50% of the energy department’s budgets are tied up in nuclear issues. In fact according to one analysis 95% of DECC’s budget went on nuclear clean up.
Also DECC was always dominated by supply side thinking with little real appreciation of the demand side. Even to this day there has never been a real bottom-up demand side modeling exercise to work out what energy supply we need. All modeling is supply side dominated – usually based on selecting a set of favoured technologies. Also the energy industry has people in and out of DECC all the time, ranging from regular meetings to full-time secondments. The energy efficiency industry has never been able to get equal billing – it only had its first short-term secondee into DECC a few years back which was a novel experience for both the industry and DECC!
Also if you haven’t read the UK ACE report “Corruption of Governance” before read it to get a good idea of how things work.
We need to move from energy policy driven by what the supply industry wants (including the renewables industry) to an energy policy that starts from what the real demand for energy is (and could be) – what do we need and how do we manage demand through energy efficiency and distributed generation and storage. At least if energy is part of Business and Industry there is a hope, and it is only a hope at the moment, that the demand side may get better recognition.
I may come up with some specific recommendations soon but right now I am distracted by the terrible events unfolding in Nice. On energy policy at least I am always optimistic but delivery is everything.
Monday 27 June 2016
On the 22nd June I was asked to speak at a high level meeting in Brussels on energy efficiency on the topic of growing the energy efficiency financing market and two specific projects I am heavily involved with, the Energy Efficiency Financial Institutions Group (EEFIG) derisking project and the Investor Confidence Project (ICP. Here is a cleaned up version of my speaking notes. Of course my shopping list for EU policy measures has been made somewhat redundant by recent events but they apply equally to the UK and elsewhere .
Before talking about growing the efficiency financing market and the two specific projects I am going to cover I would like to start with a status report on the energy efficiency financing market.
There is some good news:
– after many years the potential for investment into energy efficiency has been recognized. Different analysts have different numbers but there is general agreement that circa €70 to €100 billion a year could be profitably invested into energy efficiency in Europe. For comparison in 2015 $58 billion was invested into renewables, down sharply from $132 billion in 2011 and so we are dealing with a manageable amount here.
– The many non-energy benefits that come from improved energy efficiency – everything from increased sales and productivity through to health and well-being effects – have been recognized and are starting to be valued. This is really important because these non-energy benefits are much more strategic and attractive to decision makers than “mere” energy savings.
– Many institutional investors and banks are now really interested in energy efficiency – this is a major change over the last 3 to 5 years. Efficiency has real economic benefits, it has impact and it is not reliant on subsidies – some of us have known that for years but now the bankers have caught up. Because of this the efficiency industry can no longer rely on that old excuse……there is no money. There is plenty of money but a lack of investable deals.
The not-so-good news is that in Europe, and elsewhere, there is deep frustration that the energy efficiency finance market is going very slowly. As one banker said; “the problem with energy efficiency finance is that the ratio of conferences to deals is too high”. It is getting better but it is still a niche activity and far from being the dynamic, well developed market we need it to be.
So, given that we want to, and in fact need to, accelerate the rate of investment into energy efficiency what are the barriers and what should we be doing to overcome them? Firstly, we need to recognize that there are many barriers including:
– very small project sizes – especially compared to institutional investors’ typical deal size and the needs of the debt capital markets.
– efficiency is invisible.
– it is hard to measure – or at least it has been – that is starting to change with advanced metering, measurement and verification technologies.
– and one really important point is that efficiency is definitely not cool, not sexy or even photogenic.
We have to acknowledge that there is a fundamental lack of demand – because hardly anyone wakes up in the morning and says; “I want to buy some energy efficiency”.
An other major barrier identified by the Energy Efficiency Financial Institutions Group (EEFIG) and others is the lack of standardization in the way that projects are developed, documented and presented – this leads to higher risks, or perceived risks, and high transaction costs for financial institutions. So, how do we overcome these barriers and make the energy efficiency financing market rock?
I think there are four key elements which need to be brought together in what I call the jigsaw of energy efficiency finance:
1. finance – and by that I mean both project finance and development finance i.e. the risk capital to develop projects.
2. real demand and a robust project pipeline which requires several things – a new ecosystem of project developers, better development skills, but also better selling skills built around a focus on non-energy benefits which are much more strategic and attractive than “just” energy cost savings.
3. capacity building in financial institutions, the energy efficiency industry and project owners.
4. derisking through the standardization of processes, contracts and reporting of results.
I want to talk about two projects that are addressing some of the key elements of the derisking piece; the EEFIG Derisking project and the Investor Confidence Project.
The EEFIG Derisking project is funded by DG ENER and is being steered by the circa 100 members of EEFIG. It has two linked parts:
1. building a database of project performance so that owners and investors can see how projects actually perform and over time we can build an actuarial database of actual performance – both energy and financial performance.
2. developing standardized underwriting procedures such that banks and financial institutions can better assess both the value and the risks of energy efficiency projects which will lead to better pricing, and help to build capacity.
We are currently building the database, which is called DEEP (Derisking Energy Efficiency Platform) and we are collecting data on several hundred projects. Individual projects will be anonymous and if anyone in the audience is able to provide project data the Commission, myself and the team will be very happy to talk to you in detail. The more projects of all sorts, across buildings and industry we can have in DEEP the more useful it will become, for investors, lenders, project developers and project owners.
We also welcome any input from financial institutions into developing the standardized underwriting framework that we believe can become a useful tool for those investors and banks keen to increase capital deployment into energy efficiency. It will help them to fully assess risks and value – from all sources –leading to better pricing, build capacity around standard processes, and better manage overall risk in portfolios of projects.
The second important project is the Investor Confidence Project (ICP) Europe. I brought the idea over from the USA and in Europe the ICP is supported by Horizon 2020. The ICP addresses the lack of standardization at a technical level by bringing together financiers and the energy efficiency industry to agree common Protocols for developing and documenting projects. We now have >150 Allies across Europe and have published six protocols which are now being used in a growing number of building renovation projects across the EU. The ICP has also introduced a project developer and quality assurance accreditation scheme that is called Investor Ready Energy Efficiency. Our investor network has over €1 bn they would like to deploy into energy efficiency and many of them offer lower fees or interest rates for standardized ICP accredited projects. We are now looking at expanding the suite of protocols to include industry and infrastructure.
When I think about what else do we need, particularly from Brussels, I have the following shopping list:
– ensure all EU funded projects have to provide performance data into the DEEP database and encourage all project developers, vendors and financiers to support DEEP and similar evidence platforms. It would be foolish to establish DEEP and then not require funded projects to contribute to it.
– ensure EU funded projects adopt standardization of the development and documentation of projects using the Investor Confidence Project protocols.
– focus on the project development piece and building demand. This needs to be done by:
o providing more technical assistance but very tightly focused assistance, don’t just give money out to municipalities who want to do “investment grade audits” and assume banks will lend on the back of those audits
o focus on selling non-energy benefits – I now say let’s not even mention the energy savings, sell the comfort, the health and welfare, the employment or whatever is most likely to push the buttons of the decision maker – and then say “by the way it also produces some energy cost reduction”.
o selling the benefits of financed energy solutions. This has to be done at local and regional level.
– use EU funds like Structural Funds to further derisk private capital – don’t crowd out private capital by lending to projects but rather create mechanisms like first loss loan reserves – you get much more bang for the euro that way.
– start working on enabling collection mechanisms such as On Bill Recovery (OBR) and Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) which is based on local property tax. In the US PACE funded retrofits have really started to accelerate and there has been more than $1 billion of securitization of PACE loans in the last 12 months. There is now a real secondary market which allows recycling of capital and proper risk allocation. I know that property tax systems are different across Europe but we need to work out how to use them in a mechanism like PACE in each member state.
– Insist on open energy data. US cities like New York and Chicago have pioneered the open publishing of normalized energy consumption data for commercial buildings above a certain floor area. If you can’t yet do it for commercial buildings (even though there is no reason not to other than a lack of leadership), then insist upon it for all EU buildings and member state government estates.
– Finally, really take a long hard look at what is happening in California where the latest regulations are moving towards requiring metered efficiency and pay for performance. We need to move out of the old energy efficiency paradigm which is mandate and public sector led into a market led paradigm where we pay for what we actually want – negawatt hours. Using this approach we can create a real market where efficiency is just as reliable and just as financeable as energy production. Let’s start actually paying for real performance i.e. energy savings rather than for stuff, boilers, insulation etc and praying for results.
So, on the day before the historic referendum on UK membership of the EU, that is my small shopping list for today.
I just want to say that I am more optimistic than ever that we are building the foundations of a vibrant energy efficiency financing market by bringing the four pieces; derisking. finance, demand and capacity building, together, but we still have a long way to go. If we build that market I think everyone will be surprised by how much efficiency is actually delivered.
Again, making reference to the referendum which is hard to avoid doing, I want to finish by saying that I think EC policy in this particular area is joined up, it is helping to build the jigsaw and is moving in the right direction – if anyone wants to tell the BREXIT campaign that is fine by me.
Thank you for listening!
Tuesday 21 June 2016
I have written and spoken before about the move towards metering energy efficiency and treating it like any other energy source in the energy supply system, a move no enshrined in Californian law. Matt Golden, one of the real pioneers in this movement, sent me a job description that PG&E, the largest utility in California, recently issued – a lead manager for procuring energy efficiency. This is significant and here is why.
Traditionally energy efficiency has been delivered through programmes that are centrally managed and with a highly variable outcome. The programmes entail some kind of mandate or incentive that leads to investment in the stuff that produces energy efficiency – new boilers, new air conditioning, new controls, insulation etc. There has been little or no measurement of results of this on a project by project basis, usually programmes are evaluated by taking samples and extrapolating. The cost of a kWh (really a negawatt hour) delivered by energy efficiency programmes is highly variable. In the US at least there is a whole mini-industry of programme evaluation.
Under the new Californian legislation incentives will be paid on measured energy efficiency – savings compared to a dynamic baseline. This offers the possibility of real markets for energy efficiency developing, instead of markets for stuff which we have now – stuff which we buy but rarely know how it performs. If we reward actual results the quality of results will improve, those that cannot produce them will go out of business. Utilities can also have more confidence in the results of energy efficiency, allowing them to procure it more like other energy sources, rather than somewhat begrudgingly having to implement programmes because they have to, and build it into capacity planning. Furthermore metered efficiency offers the prospect of a strip of negawatt hours being financeable through an equivalent to a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) – maybe a Efficiency Purchase Agreement (EPA), Savings Purchase Agreement (SPA) or a Negapower Purchase Agreement (NPA).
Technologies like Open EE Meter (developed by Matt Golden) offer the prospect of a real market for efficiency developing – one that delivers reliable results just like power generation technologies. If we can get to that point I believe the level of energy use reduction that will be achieved will be very surprising.
Wednesday 8 June 2016
Continuing my occasional series on interesting energy efficiency financing initiatives around the world……..
I have just returned from my first visit to Riga, the capital of Latvia, which is a very civilized city and well worth a visit. Whilst there I continued a dialogue with a very interesting project to fund residential renovations in Soviet era panel buildings. For anyone not familiar with these, all through the former Soviet republics in central and eastern Europe, through Russia, into central Asia and even China, the default method of building housing was highly systematized and standardized concrete panel blocks. Even in the UK of course we experimented with this kind of technology during the sixties and seventies – usually with bad results. The panel buildings in Latvia and throughout central and eastern Europe are extremely energy inefficient, in climates which get severe winter weather, and are often in danger of collapse through problems of “concrete cancer” and structural defects.
In Latvia, Renesco (a private ESCO) has renovated 15 panel built apartment blocks with some impressive results. Energy savings ranged from 45% to 65%, more comfortable conditions were created, the lifetime of the blocks were extended and residents kept paying the same utility bills – all without additional subsidies. The retrofits are deep retrofits incorporating insulation, windows and doors as well as other aspects such as structural repairs, roof repairs and upgrading elevators (with high energy savings due to the low efficiency of Soviet era elevators compared to modern high efficiency units). The energy savings allow these other measures – which are essential to the building – to be paid for. Residents buy into the increase in comfort. The Renesco projects were a great example of entrepreneurial effort overcoming many social, economic and technical barriers. Now the project is moving into a new larger and very exciting phase. Renesco, like all Escos, was capital constrained and so now the Latvian Baltic Energy Efficiency Facility (LABEEF) – a forfaiting fund – has been established to refinance similar projects carried out by ESCOs once they have been in operation for a year.
This arrangement allocates risks and rewards appropriately. Residents take no risk and their homes increase in value 15 to 25%. Over the lifetime of the financing deal, they can expect over 30% lower costs than other financing models. The ESCOs take the project implementation and performance risk, and the forfaiting fund takes the long-term payment risk. (To date there have been no defaults on payment). The ESCOs or their financing banks can recycle capital. LABEEF has systematized the process, making application easy through an on-line portal, and completely standardized the process. On the technical side it advocates the use of Investor Confidence Protocols as a way of ensuring best practice during project development, implementation and on-going monitoring. Over time, once enough projects have been aggregated, the forfaiting fund should become an attractive investment for pension funds which in the Baltics currently invest mainly in the Nordics due to a shortage of investment opportunities at home.
It is worth considering the potential impact of this project. If applied to Latvia’s 50 million square metres of panel apartment blocks the reduction in gas imports – which all come from Russia – would be reduced by 50%. This alone should mean the project should get a lot of attention on energy security grounds. In addition there are huge non-energy benefits such as the effects on health and well-being, and improvements to the social fabric as residents become involved in the long-term future of their block and their neighborhood. The latter kind of “soft” benefit is often forgotten but is very real. When applied to the estimated 1 billion square meters of panel buildings across central and eastern Europe the potential gains are huge – a potential reduction in gas imports of over 10-15 billion cubic meters/year.
The LABEEF forfaiting fund is a world-class example of energy efficiency financing in action and we look forward to following its development and working with it in future.
Dr Steven Fawkes
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