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Why We Continue to Need Energy Efficiency Programmes—A Critical Review Based on Experiences in Switzerland and Elsewhere

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  • Martin K. Patel

    (Institute for Environmental Sciences (ISE) and Department Forel, University of Geneva, 1205 Geneva, Switzerland)

  • Jean-Sébastien Broc

    (Institute for European Energy and Climate Policy (IEECP), 1043GR Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

  • Haein Cho

    (Institute for Environmental Sciences (ISE) and Department Forel, University of Geneva, 1205 Geneva, Switzerland)

  • Daniel Cabrera

    (Institute for Environmental Sciences (ISE) and Department Forel, University of Geneva, 1205 Geneva, Switzerland)

  • Armin Eberle

    (Institute of Sustainable Development (INE), Zurich University of Applied Sciences (Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften, ZHAW), 8401 Winterthur, Switzerland)

  • Alessandro Federici

    (Energy Efficiency Department, Italy’s National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (Agenzia Nazionale per le Nuove Tecnologie, L’energia e lo Sviluppo Economico Sostenibile, ENEA), 00044 Rome, Italy)

  • Alisa Freyre

    (Services Industriels de Genève (SIG), 1219 Geneva, Switzerland)

  • Cédric Jeanneret

    (Services Industriels de Genève (SIG), 1219 Geneva, Switzerland)

  • Kapil Narula

    (Institute for Environmental Sciences (ISE) and Department Forel, University of Geneva, 1205 Geneva, Switzerland)

  • Vlasios Oikonomou

    (Institute for European Energy and Climate Policy (IEECP), 1043GR Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

  • Selin Yilmaz

    (Institute for Environmental Sciences (ISE) and Department Forel, University of Geneva, 1205 Geneva, Switzerland)

Abstract

Energy efficiency programmes (EEPs) are schemes operated by utilities or other bodies in order to incentivize energy efficiency improvement, in particular by adoption of energy-efficient products and typically by means of an economic reward. Ample experience has been gained, especially in the U.S., where EEPs have been in use for decades, with the rationale of avoiding additional energy supply by improving energy efficiency. More recently, EEPs have been implemented in Europe and in Switzerland. This review paper presents insights from the U.S., the EU and especially from Switzerland, with a focus on levelised programme cost of saved energy ( LPC ) as a key performance indicator. These LPC values, which take the perspective of the programme operator, are typically low to very low compared to the cost of electricity supply, thereby representing an important argument in favour of their use. The country examples show that EEPs are being effectively and successfully put into practice, for example, in Switzerland both as (i) a national tender-based scheme (called ProKilowatt) and in the form of a (ii) utility-operated obligation-based scheme (in Geneva). EEPs not only call for diligent implementation but also for suitable legal settings, e.g., in the form of mandatory energy efficiency savings targets (as realised for energy efficiency obligations, EEOs) in combination with programme cost recovery. The main criticism of EEPs is the free-rider effect, which needs to be minimised. On the other hand, EEPs are accompanied by significant co-benefits (environmental, health-related and social) and spillover effects. In their currently prevalent form, EEPs allow one to effectively save energy at a (very) low cost (“low-hanging fruit”). They can hence play an important role in fostering the energy transition; however, they should be implemented as part of a policy portfolio, in combination with other policy instruments.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin K. Patel & Jean-Sébastien Broc & Haein Cho & Daniel Cabrera & Armin Eberle & Alessandro Federici & Alisa Freyre & Cédric Jeanneret & Kapil Narula & Vlasios Oikonomou & Selin Yilmaz, 2021. "Why We Continue to Need Energy Efficiency Programmes—A Critical Review Based on Experiences in Switzerland and Elsewhere," Energies, MDPI, vol. 14(6), pages 1-28, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jeners:v:14:y:2021:i:6:p:1742-:d:521388
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    References listed on IDEAS

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