Improved energy efficiency in industrial small and medium-sized enterprises : Regional energy efficiency network policy programs

Abstract: Despite large potential for improved energy efficiency in industrial small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the full potential is not realized due to barriers to energy efficiency. Two primary ways to realize the potential are to deploy energy management practices and conduct energy audits. However, such energy management practices are underdeveloped in non-energy intensive SMEs and only half of the measures in an energy audit are implemented. To address this problem, energy efficiency networks (EENs) provide vital services and support for SMEs, and may double the implementation rate of energy efficiency measures and the achieved energy efficiency, compared with an energy audit.This thesis studies regional energy policy programs for industrial SMEs, and EENs in particular. The results show that despite EEN participation, the potential in the production processes is left untapped and energy management is still underdeveloped in the SMEs. The results also show that EEN participation reduces some of the common barriers to energy efficiency, but is insufficient in reducing all of them. The methodology, using the theory of barriers to evaluate the network process, can be used for future evaluations where it is recommended to apply the process evaluation while the EEN is operating, to assess the performance of the functions. From the top barriers to and drivers for energy management, organizational aspects seem to be of high importance, followed by barriers/drivers related to economy and knowledge. The major barriers to energy management seem to be more organizational in nature than the barriers to energy efficiency measures. The main contributions are a model for designing energy efficiency policy programs for SMEs, and a model for evaluation of policy programs in general, and EENs specifically. The thesis provides insights on key processes of operation of EEN programs for SMEs. The EEN model and its functions need to be further developed to improve energy management and also target production processes in the SMEs.