The developed energy service company markets in the European Union. What lessons can be drawn for the development of the Dutch ESCO market?
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There is a global urgency towards low-carbon economies, since the use of fossil resources is causing vast problems to the economy and society. In the Netherlands about 30% of the total fossil primary energy is consumed in buildings, and the biggest energy savings potential of the Netherlands can be realised in that sector. Despite the fact that so much energy consumption can be reduced in the real estate sector, refurbishment and retrofits are rarely executed in the existing building stock. In the contrast to the Netherlands, in Germany, France and Austria a lot of buildings are being refurbished with applying energy saving measures thanks to projects executed by energy service companies (ESCO’s). An ESCO is a natural or legal person that delivers energy services and/or other energy efficiency improvement measures in a user’s facility or premises, and accepts some degree of financial risk in doing so. These new kinds of businesses are seen as effective business models to overcome some of the barriers of energy efficiency and are successful in implementing energy saving measures in buildings. Taking into account the effectiveness of ESCO businesses and the urgency to increase energy efficiency in buildings it can be concluded that the absence of a well-developed ESCO market is a problem for the Netherlands. In order to learn from the successful experiences of the well-developed ESCO market the following research question is set: What are the success factors of the developed ESCO markets in Germany, France and the Austria and what can be learned from this in order to develop the Dutch ESCO market successfully? The success factors which has been effective for the development of each investigated ESCO market are the establishment of an ESCO association and ESCO accreditation system, standardization of contacts and M & V procedures, a suitable regulatory and policy framework and supporting measures by national or local energy agencies. In all the three countries the ESCO’s have united themselves by establishing an ESCO association. In general, these associations provide information to its members and are engaged in political lobbying in order to improve the conditions for ESCO businesses. Furthermore, they keep members up-to-date on key policies and issues affecting the ESCO market and some ESCO associations even made an accreditations scheme which provides the competent ESCO with quality labels. Standardization of contracts and procedures and an ESCO accreditation system has proved to be crucial for trust in the ESCO business in the market. The Austrian and German local energy agencies also organized successful demonstration projects by bundling of the public buildings. Another important success factor in the French market is the national savings obligation schemes in place. The French government has set strict policy objectives concerning the energy efficiency of buildings in the action plan called ‘Grenelle l’Environnement’. In Germany the substantial rise in energy prices due to taxing is also a very important one, and by some German ESCO’s even considered as the most important factor of all. Despite these successful experiences, the Dutch ESCO market is still immature and lagging behind. All of the common success factors investigated, which are the most essential for an ESCO markets developed, are not put in place in The Netherlands. It is an imperative to implement these according to the roadmap made by Bertoldi et al. in 2006.