The Investment Process for Capital Investments : The case of industrial energy-efficiency investments and non-energy benefits

Abstract: Capital investments play a crucial role for the business of every firm. In an industrial context, energy efficiency is an important means to meet future energy needs and in the same time reduce climate impact. In this thesis, the investment process for capital investments is therefore studied by addressing the case of industrial capital investments improving energy efficiency. The thesis specifically aims to illuminate how additional benefits, i.e. non-energy benefits, are and can be acknowledged in the investment process by applying an ex-ante perspective. The thesis holds the decision-making process as unit of analysis and aims to contribute with insights on firm level. Especially in an energy-efficiency context, such a process perspective has only been scarcely applied.The thesis is based on a literature review and two empirical studies. The literature review is the starting point of the thesis and reviews the literature on benefit concepts and investment behaviour of energy-efficiency investments. It is then followed by an explorative study in which thirteen industrial Swedish firms are interviewed on how they consider non-energy benefits. Investment motives and critical aspects for adopting energy-efficiency investments are also addressed. It also includes a questionnaire, distributed and collected during a networking event for energy-intensive firms within Swedish manufacturing industry. The second empirical study is a case study conducted at a Swedish pulp and paper firm. It aims to take a comprehensive perspective on the investment process as well as to analyse how and when non-energy benefits are acknowledged in the investment process. This case study approach  enables participants at different levels in the organisation to be engaged in the study and new perspectives to be addressed.The results indicate a general investment process passing through the phases identification, development and selection. Investment motives, information, internal coordination and external actors appear as key aspects of the investment process. Energy-efficiency investments are primarily initiated due to cost-savings motives. However, the subsequent investment process appears as consistent for all investment categories; the investment process described here is thus not specific for energy-efficiency investments only. The results instead indicate an investment process influenced by investment size; it influences the extent to which information is collected and assessed before making the decision, i.e. level of procedural rationality, as well as how the investment project is coordinated within the firm. Last, suppliers are involved in the investment process to a large extent from an early stage.Regarding non-energy benefits, the results indicate that various benefits have been observed but far from all are acknowledged in the investment process. They are to a larger extent acknowledged for larger investments when more resources are devoted to the investment process. Quantifiable non-energy benefits improve the business case for energy-efficiency investments and non-energy benefits should thus be quantified to the extent possible. Yet, nonenergy benefits characterised by a lower level of quantifiability could still be important, such as benefits related to work environment, and should therefore be considered. However, the findings indicate a frequent use and reliance upon an investment manual, implicating a need for simplicity when addressing the additional benefits. This indicates that there should be an emphasis on a limited number of main benefits, rather than seeking to acknowledge all possible benefits.

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