EPC prioritized in Ireland's ambitious energy efficiency policy
13. 11. 2014
Improving Ireland's energy efficiency is an essential part of Ireland's sustainable energy policy, and will play a vital role in reducing Ireland's dependence of fossil fuels. The Irish government published Energy Policy Green Paper on May 12th 2014 and is currently engaged in a public consultation process in order to engage members of the public in the country's future energy policy. This builds on the Governments existing energy policy framework set out in the White Paper: Delivering a Sustainable Energy Future for Ireland - the Energy Policy Framework for 2007-2020. Recognising the need for government to lead by example, a commitment was made to achieve a 33 percent reduction in public sector energy use by 2020.
Given such an ambitious target and the associated capital investment required, Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) was seen as a good vehicle to support the public sector deliver in this task while also addressing some obligations under the Energy Efficiency Directive. In order to support the development of the energy efficiency market in the non-domestic sector throughout Ireland, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) developed a National Energy Services Framework. This Framework sets out the current roadmap through which energy efficiency projects and an EPC process are being developed - in essence it is the 'How To' manual. The Framework also provides best-practice guidance to public and private sector client organisations when procuring energy services and engaging ESCOs. The Framework has focused thus far on providing guidance and tools to support developing projects suitable for EPC and Energy Performance-Related Payments (EPRP). Model contracts are being developed for Local Energy Supply Contracts (LESCs). Handbooks on EPC for Public Lighting and for Water Services will follow. This work is on-going and all materials are available on SEAI's website: www.seai.ie/Your_Business/National_Energy_Services_Framework/.
In order to both test and demonstrate that the Framework is robust and has the capacity to deliver at scale, a suite of exemplar projects (a mixture of public and private organisations) are working through and testing the Framework with SEAI. These projects are provided with assistance in the form of training, networking and access to a panel of EPC legal and technical experts to review and comment at key stages of the project. In return participating organisations commit to actively engage in the provision of feedback on utilisation of the Framework. There are currently 20 organisations progressing energy projects while testing the Framework process. Lessons from the experience will feed back into the next iteration of the manuals and workbooks on a continuous basis.
The final 'leg of the stool' is finance. One of the early key barriers identified in seeking to maximise the rollout of energy efficiency projects in Ireland, including EPC's, was the quantum and structure of funding and finance available in the market. The Irish government committed seed funding to establish an energy efficiency fund and in March 2014, the Minister for communications, energy and natural resources, alongside Glen Dimplex and London and Regional Properties, invested in a €70 million National Energy Efficiency Fund with Sustainable Development Capital LLP (SDCL) acting as investment advisor. This fund will act as a catalyst to develop energy efficiency projects in the Irish market and enhance the level of finance available to support the clear cost saving opportunity that exists for public and commercial sector organisations. It is anticipated that as much as €300 million leveraged funding will be delivered over the next three years based on a fund size of €70 million.
Ray Ring, Business Development Manager for Aramark and a member of the European Energy Services Companies