Efficiency of an energy audit programme for SMEs in Germany - results of an evaluation study
A programme offering partial subsidies for energy audits was launched by the German Ministry of Economics in 2008. It is managed by the KfW, the German Promotional Bank. The purpose of the audits is to identify energy saving potentials in SMEs by qualified and independent consultants. They help to overcome know-how deficits and other obstacles whereas subsidies should encourage SMEs to make use of audits. The evaluation of this programme, which was performed in 2010, shows the effects of the scheme and gives recommendations for its optimisation. The study focused on empirical research: online surveys of the audited companies, consultants, and the "regional partners" who processed the applications, e.g. chambers of trade and commerce or energy agencies. In addition, final audit reports were analysed. The main aspects of the study were audit quality, implementation of proposed measures, remaining obstacles, and the effects of the programme in terms of energy savings, reduction of CO2 emissions, and investments. The study revealed a very good image of the programme and a high implementation rate of the recommendations of the consultants. The consultants found substantial energy efficiency potentials in all the companies. On average, each company implemented 2.8 out of 5.3 recommended measures as a direct result of the energy audit. The measures implemented resulted in 1.4 TWh energy savings per year, 470,000 tons CO2 reduction, investments of 480 million Euros, and energy cost savings of 80 million Euros. Programme costs amount to 0.5-0.7 Euro/ MWh energy saved. Success factors of the audit scheme include its low threshold access caused by the high level of funding, the support from the regional partners and their personal contacts to SMEs, and the generally high quality of the audits. The authors recommend to optimise the KfW consultants' list in the internet with regard to the search for competent consultants, especially those with know-how of branch-specific process technologies, and to improve further the audit reports by a more detailed specification of the content.