Monday 26 January 2015

On the 15th January I chaired the 3rd annual Energy Institute conference “Accelerating energy efficiency”. I believe that we have now got to the point where the huge economic potential for improved energy efficiency is broadly recognized although the true value of the multiple co-benefits is only just being identified. What we haven’t yet achieved is the “main streaming” of improving energy efficiency. To resolve our energy cost, energy security and environmental problems we need to, and should, work to accelerate the rate of improvement of energy efficiency – hence the title of the event.


To accelerate energy efficiency we need to increase the demand for energy efficiency, increase the supply of energy efficiency products and services, and increase the flow of finance into energy efficiency investment, both internal and external investment. To do this requires a systematic approach and this year the Energy Institute conference covered more parts of the jigsaw than ever before. Lord Deben kicked off the event with a brilliant keynote in which he stressed four words; vulgarity, centrality, urgency and difference. I understood vulgarity to mean moving energy efficiency away from the deeply technical language only understood by experts to a more commonly understood language – a theme I have pushed for a while having come to the realization that energy efficiency is deeply boring and uncool (see the energy efficiency cool wall: Centrality meant central to the energy and environmental issues, urgency meant in relation to climate change but I would also add urgency in terms of economic and geo-political energy security issues such as dependence on imported gas and oil. By difference I think Lord Deben meant diversity of solutions.


Following Lord Deben’s keynote there were presentations covering an update on ESOS from David Purdy of DECC and presentations on the different routes to ESOS compliance, ISO50001 and energy surveys. Bert Lunenborg, Production Manager at major energy user British Gypsum made the point that ISO50001 was powerful as it produced a system that is not dependent on individuals, and has a life beyond surveys. This cemented (no pun intended) my belief that government and other stakeholders concerned with improving energy efficiency should be promoting and adopting ISO50001. Wider adoption will better embed effective energy management into organizations which should improve the rate of improvement in energy efficiency and investment into energy efficiency measures. I would like to see a more positive commitment to ISO50001 from government, large organizations and industry associations alike to build capacity and capabilities. The public sector could accelerate its behavior by insisting on suppliers having it, just as they often do with quality and environmental ISOs.


A welcome addition to the programme compared to previous years, was the focus on behavior with several presentations on the theme including “Applying behavioural science to improve energy efficiency” by Phillipa Coan and “Energy management through people: the missing ingredient?” by James Brittain. James reported on an effective approach using low cost real time sensors and employee engagement to reduce energy use. The results from the Heathrow Terminal 2 building project where James’ company worked with restaurants and retail units to reduce installed capacity and energy use were particularly impressive.


In the afternoon the themes were finance and data. I introduced the Investor Confidence Project Europe ( and then Nick Paget from Energy Works plc described the fully financed lighting as a service model Energy Works is providing to the SME market. Rajvant Nijjhar of i-VEES gave a great practical demonstration of the issues of measurement by getting six volunteers on stage to measure a piece of string. The range of answers was amazing. It was a great reminder of the fundamentals of measurement and the reality that every single measurement or data point concerning any parameter has a range of error attached to it – something we often forget in the digital age. Luke Nicholson of Carbon Culture described his work based on big data and open collaboration.
All the presentations are available at:


In conclusion, if we are to accelerate energy efficiency we need to work on all the pieces of the jigsaw simultaneously – not just the technology. Some of the pieces are well developed and understood such as Measurement and Verification (although they all need to be applied more), in others – particularly in the behavior and financial spaces – we are only just learning what to do. We need to continue to build the jigsaw and gather, maintain, improve and spread best practice in all these areas.


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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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