Overcoming energy efficiency barriers through systems approach—A conceptual framework
In this paper we propose a framework which categorizes energy efficiency barriers based on the stage at which the barriers exist. Barriers to energy efficiency have been widely studied but to our knowledge, except for a few studies, we found inadequate consideration for barrier–barrier interactions when proposing policy measures for improving energy efficiency. Leveraging systems thinking's power as a problem solver which identifies underlying structure that explains (similar) patterns of behavior in a variety of different situations, we attempted to identify patterns of barriers to adoption of energy efficiency measures in industrial companies. Inspired by systems thinking, the proposed framework has four stages, namely, Motivation, Capability, Implementation and Results, as well as a feedback loop. Using a case study, we show that following the four stages will lead to positive feedback for future energy efficiency implementations. The framework highlights the interconnected nature of the barriers and a need for policymakers to address these barriers in a holistic manner. We argue that the overall effectiveness of energy efficiency policies is only as strong as the weakest link in the four-stage framework. This differs from most prior research that addressed barriers in isolation, where a solution is proposed for each of the barriers without considering the relationship between the barriers. Our framework also offers a way to understand the roles and responsibilities of major stakeholders such as governments and energy service companies (ESCOs) in driving energy efficiency. This allows the assessment and identification of weak links in energy efficiency policies.
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