Energy efficiency in Swedish SMEs : Exploring barriers, knowledge creation and the role of municipal energy efficiency programs
Abstract: The overall aim of this thesis is to analyze how municipalities support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in their work to improve their energy efficiency. The purpose of this study is to increase the current understanding of how the methods and tools used by municipalities to assist SMEs in improving their energy efficiency influence the end results in terms of achieved energy efficiency, and how knowledge related to energy efficiency is created within SMEs. This thesis consists of two separate case studies that examine how two municipalities used a network approach to support SMEs in implementing energy efficient measures. The theoretical frameworks of policy networks, barriers, communities of practice (COPs), and energy efficiency networks were used in this thesis. The findings are presented in the appended four articles. An overall conclusion is that networks that provide information in the form of a report with technological solutions as the only output are less likely to reach the agreed-upon goals. To achieve a more successful result, SMEs must be active in the process; they must be allowed to create knowledge and understanding that they perceive as valuable and relevant for themselves. Another important result is that information is not automatically transformed by SMEs into knowledge. In fact, SMEs need a platform from which they can negotiate the received information and use it to create knowledge through practice and social interaction. Finally, it was found that the type of technological solution is not insignificant; the type of energy efficient measure to be implemented and its level of complexity affect how a municipality should support energy efficiency work among SMEs.
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