Energy efficiency networks: Lessons learned from Germany
The energy efficiency network (EEN) concept was first developed in Switzerland in the late 1980s and was adopted in Germany in 2002. During a long pilot phase between 2002 and 2013, the lessons from 40 Learning EENs (LEENs) in Germany led to a certain format for regional EENs for SMEs and larger companies. By the end of 2014, the Energy Efficiency Network Initiative (IEEN) was launched as a voluntary agreement between the German government and currently 22 industrial and economic associations, to support the creation of 500 new EENs until the end of 2020. This paper reports on two aspects of EENs of companies in Germany: The results of ongoing evaluations regarding German EENs following different operational formats in terms of duration, number of participants, network energy saving target, etc. The evaluations regard challenges and means to improve EEN-related work as well as first results of a rough assessment of the IEEN impacts regarding energy savings and emission reductions. The long-term impacts on energy use, innovative activities and changed decision routines in participating companies of regional LEENs. This evaluation gives deep insights into achieved energy cost savings within an investment period, into the diffusion of efficiency-related knowledge into subsidiary companies within groups and into the reaction of machinery manufacturers and plant planners to the demand of more efficient solutions by network participant Finally, this paper concludes with an analysis of the lessons learned from German EENs including barriers and challenges to initiate EENs as well as suggestions to improve EENs' promotion. The main finding is that EENs are not only a successful concept in terms of energy efficiency but it also offers multiple benefits to the participants such as innovative ideas for energy efficient solutions. However, a major challenge is to convince companies to join EENs.