What makes energy efficiency projects fail?

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What makes energy efficiency projects fail?

We all agree that Energy Management is important, even C-levels agree. Still too often it’s not done. Why is that? This 2003 article – Overcoming Barriers to Effective Energy Management in Industrial Settings – names several barriers which I list below with my comments :

  1. Lack of Organizational Commitment
    If senior management is not committed to energy projects they soon become neglected and die off
  2. Insufficient Resources.
    To be effective energy management work must have resources committed to it – people, time, tools, budget
  3. Lack of Energy Data.
    With no data all decisions on project can only be based on guesses, no investment happens on guesses
  4. Shifting Priorities.
    Effect of energy efficiency projects comes over time, it’s not lottery. If priorities are shifting before projects are implemented and benefits accounted for, it’s as if projects have not happened at all
  5. Results Not Sustained.
    Low hanging fruit tends to grow back unless changes are closely monitored.
  6. Correcting Symptoms instead of Problems.
    Bringing this point to the extreme: more efficient air compressor will not solve “not enough air” problem caused by leaky network
  7. Narrow Focus.
    Energy affects  3P: people, processes and products; so to be business effective, not just energy efficient, energy management projects should meet demands of all 3Ps too

To summarise:

It’s not about engineering, in ‘energy management’ the key word is ‘management’.

To this list I’d add:

  • Unrealistic profitability expectations combined with use of simplistic financial metrics:  simple payback simply hurts business in so many ways
  • Lack of post project accountability: after retrofit is completed, who and how determines sustained effect? Uncertainty about long term results causes C-level hesitance about new projects.

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