Monday 8 June 2015

Continuing the retrospective of the last two and half years of


Opening up data


Open performance data can be a real driver for greater energy efficiency. US cities like New York and Chicago have mandated large buildings publish their normalized performance data every year. In the 1980s the UK’s Audit Commission programme that required all Local Authorities to produce Normalized Performance Indicators (NPIs) for every building and this drove a lot of improved energy management and investment activity (having been involved in developing the NPI I was involved in a lot of the follow-up implementation). The use of NPIs can be criticized but if used properly, as a guide for management action, they can be extremely powerful.


In 2014 Knauf Insulation launched the Local Authority Energy Index which we had developed for them. The Index uses a range of quantitative and qualitative indicators to gauge local authorities’ response to the energy agenda. With Knauf we are now working with others to expand the Index to about 100 local authorities covering about 50% of UK energy use. Anyone interested in becoming a sponsor please let me know.


Working with the Crowd on another open data initiative we developed the Energy Investment Curve which sought to identify what investments companies have made in energy efficiency (and renewables) and what their expected payback periods were as well as their experience of the project. The Crowd, having raised money in a very successful (and highly appropriate) crowd funding campaign, are now developing this tool further. I can see it being developed to record actual payback periods and integrated into initiatives such as the Knauf Local Authority Index.


The Local Authority Energy Index and the Curve were featured in these blogs:


Launching the Local Authority Energy Index


Launching the Energy Investment Curve


Community Energy


One of the major trends of the last few years has been the growing trend in community energy in many forms. I have written about this several times and have supported the idea of local authorities forming municipal energy services companies, several of which have now been formed. It is important that we move community energy beyond a few subsidized small-scale wind or solar projects and re-connect energy supply with energy demand at a local level. Like other community led projects, as well as the physical and economic benefits that can be created, the benefits of real community involvement can be huge, bringing both greater understanding of the issues and an enhanced sense of involvement to the community – something that is lacking in much of modern life. The following blogs considered community energy.


Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You


Power to the People – the Rise of the CESCo


ESCOs, EPC and energy efficiency financing


Most of my efforts of the last few years have been in the area of energy efficiency financing which naturally includes ESCOs, Energy Performance Contracts (EPCs) and other forms of shared savings contracts. I am on record as saying we need to ditch the term “ESCO” and that EPCs are not the answer to everything that some people seem to think they are, particularly some new entrants to the energy efficiency arena. This is a deliberately controversial statement and of course many EPCs are beneficial. I do think the energy efficiency industry has historically been very poor at understanding it’s markets and what the decision drivers really are. There has been, and continues to be, a belief that the fact that an energy efficiency project has a two or three year payback should automatically make it a “no brainer” whereas there may be many other non-energy considerations in an investment decision. This has been a recurring theme and one which I am sure I will return to in future.


Isn’t It Time to Ditch the Term ESCo?


A Road Map for Energy Efficiency Financing… And Free Negawatts on Offer


ESCO Obsessions


The history and future of the energy industry


The one certainty is that the future will be different to the past but having said that we can always learn from the past. Anyone with an interest in energy should read as much as possible on the history of the industry in all its forms including fossil fuels, electricity, nuclear and renewables. One of the best books I read in the last few years is “Children of Light: How Electrification Changed Britain Forever”, a history of the UK electricity industry. I highly recommend it.


Children of Light – book review


Another great read, particularly for anyone who leans to the idea that nuclear power is the answer, is “Going Critical”, Walt Patterson’s history of the UK nuclear industry. Unfortunately we don’t seem to be learning much from that particular bit of history.


Over the last few years there has been much discussion of the effects of renewables and efficiency on the future of utilities. A Citigroup report titled “Energy Darwinism” said that half of the addressable market for utilities could disappear as a result of distributed solar and efficiency – something that should be worrying the CEOs of any utility. We have recently seen E.On restructure dramatically and it is clear that restructuring utilities will be a growth industry for advisers for many years to come. The following blog looked at the future of energy companies.


Utilities: Dinosaurs Looking up as the Asteroid Impacts?


Thank you to all my readers over the last two and a half years. Expect more exploration of these themes and a few other personal diversions in the future. Please subscribe to updates from and follow me on twitter @DrSteveFawkes


There is 1 comment on “A century of blogs – a retrospective and some recurring themes. Part 2.”:

  • Benjamin on July 16th, 2015 at 12:44 pm said:

    Steven – great summary and list of blog posts. And thanks for your efforts over the past few years to enlighten us on all matters related to energy and resource efficiency!

Dr Steven Fawkes

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