A rose by any other name…?

October 30, 2009 | 00:00

A rose by any other name…?

New contexts and players in European energy efficiency programmes

Until recent years, the promotion of energy efficiency has mainly been the mandate of national governments and energy utilities. As energy markets have been privatized and opened up to competition, utility-driven DSM programmes have run into increasing problems and thus often had to be re-configured and re-invented. New intermediary organisations are also called for to tackle the demand side, such as specialized energy service companies (ESCOs), energy agencies, or specific organizations that gain their funding from public benefit charges.

A closer look at who is promoting energy efficiency in Europe today, however, reveals an even more diverse picture. Energy efficiency is promoted under a variety of headings, including climate change mitigation, sustainability, eco-efficiency or energy self-sufficiency. Moreover, the intermediary organizations working on energy efficiency include a variety of non-governmental organizations, public-private partnerships and regional or sectoral networks. After painting a synthesized picture of the general problems confronting energy efficiency, our paper discusses the diversity of ways in which new energy intermediaries in old and new member states of the EU are working to promote energy efficiency, and the opportunities and challenges encountered by different kinds of intermediaries. We then turn to analyse the merits of ‘nesting’ energy efficiency within a broader climate or sustainability agenda. This broader agenda provides some advantages for the promotion of energy efficiency, but also some special challenges. We discuss the pros and cons of hosting energy efficiency under a broader agenda on the basis of recent findings from an EC FP7 funded study called CHANGING BEHAVIOUR1.

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