Even many C-levels today agree agrees that energy efficiency is important, still too often too little is done. How can this situation be changed?

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 to energy efficiency work
    Unless at least one senior manager is committed to energy projects they soon be pushed aside by other priorities.
  2. Insufficient Resources
    To be effective energy management work must have adequate resources committed to it – people, time, tools, budget.
  3. Lack of Energy Data
    With no real energy data decisions on energy efficiency project can only be based on guesses, assumptions and well wishing. In no other area of plant management profitable investment happens on guesses. No miracle will happen in energy efficiency – it will simply not work.
  4. Shifting Priorities of decision-makers
    Results of energy efficiency projects come over time, it’s not a lottery. If priorities shift before energy efficiency project is implemented and benefits accounted for, full value of the effort will never be recognised and appreciated. It’s worse than if projects have not happened at all.
  5. Results Are Not Sustained over time
    Efficiency measures are commonly disabled over time unless efficiency changes are closely monitored over time. This is especially true about operational and behavioural changes, since low hanging fruit tends to grow back.
  6. Correcting Symptoms instead of Problems
    Bringing this point to the extreme: even super efficient air compressor will not solve the “not enough air” problem caused by the leaky network. Focus on the cause and implemented results will be much higher and sustainable over time
  7. Narrow Focus
    Energy affects the 3P: People, Processes and Products; energy management projects should meet demands of all 3Ps too to generate value for business, not just energy savings

This barriers were identified in 2003. In many companies they are still standing.

To this list I’d add:

8. Unrealistic profitability expectations combined with use of simplistic financial metrics:  simple payback simply hurts business in so many ways.
Modified IRR and Savings to Investment ratio (SIR) are much cleaner ratios for evaluation of financial performance of energy efficiency projects in manufacturing.

9. Lack of post project accountability: after retrofit is completed, who and how determines sustained effect? Uncertainty about long term results causes C-level to hesitate about new projects.
Properly set up Measurement and Verification will prove results, read more in How to measure saved energy.

Read more on why Energy conservation is an uphill battle, what is the better way?.

Which barrier is the strongest at your plant? What do you think is missing?