Standards for industrial energy efficiency projects - the importance of technical integrity

Energy Efficiency

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27 October 2017

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Rod Janssen

The Investor Confidence Project: The importance of technical integrity    

The Investor Confidence Project, funded by the European Commission, was brought to Europe to develop a system to give confidence to all active stakeholders. There are still concerns that investing in energy efficiency is risky. ICP Europe is designed to change that. Starting with investments in buildings, ICP Europe has now broadened the scope to include industry (large and small), district energy and street lighting.   

Recently the second meeting of the Technical Forum was held via a webinar (26.10.2017) to help develop the protocol for industry projects. The protocols represent the backbone of the ICP concept, as will be explained below. Here you can listen to the webinar recording and here you can join the Technical Forum.

The Technical Forum ensures that ICP Europe staff is producing relevant and needed products and services for the European energy efficiency markets. The Forum shall do this through:  

  • Providing insight and feedback on draft products in webinar based Forum meetings and informally;
  • Providing local, national and European knowledge on relevant standards, best practices and initiatives that may be relevant to, or interact with, ICP Europe products and tools; and
  • dentifying projects and programmes for piloting of ICP Europe products and services.   

Currently, there are about 70 members of the Technical Forum.  They are now providing their feedback to the draft Protocols and then they will come back to meet again to review the final draft at the end of November.  

Understanding the importance of the protocols  

Experts play a valuable role in developing new protocols for industry, district energy and street lighting. The Protocols define a standardised road map of best practices for originating energy savings following the ICP Project Lifecycle.  ICP Protocols are an industry best practice assembly of existing standards, practices, and documentation in order to create the data necessary to enable underwriting or managing of energy performance risk.  ICP Europe works with the European Technical Forum to develop protocols that are designed to address the range of typical industry (large and small), district energy and street lighting projects found in the European market.   

These protocols reference international, European and national standards and best practices to provide all market actors across the European energy efficiency development and investment community with tools to improve the predictability of energy savings and related bankability of energy efficiency projects.  

How the ICP process works  

The concept of the Investor Confidence Project is simple to understand. The protocols set out requirements for an investment package to be submitted by a project developer which covers critical stages throughout the project lifecycle. This documentation is subsequently reviewed by a third party Quality Assurance Provider. Compliant projects are awarded the Investor Ready Energy Efficiency™ certification. This process enables standardised project performance underwriting, leading to better data on performance, and a more efficient marketplace with less duplicative engineering and lower transaction costs. The result should be an increase in deal flow and a more transparent and efficient market.   

For example, a potential project in a factory or a district energy system is identified. Someone has to do the necessary calculations to determine the viability. Someone has to be identified to install it (often the same organisation). And some organisation needs to fund it. What this project does is standardise the procedures so that all players gain confidence in the system. The factory owner is happy. The developer/auditor/installer is happy. The financial institution is happy. There is third party monitoring to ensure everything is done correctly.  

The technical integrity of the protocol  

If the protocol is not credible and technically worthy, then the entire ICP concept fails. For that reason, it is important to have a strong body providing technical guidance.  On the ICP team, the people writing the draft protocols have years of experience and are technically sound. But, we understand that a transparent and open, multi-stakeholder approach to the process, where we try to make sure to collect enough EU representativeness to make sure protocols are applicable in all EU markets, is key to their acceptance and usefulness. For that reason, ICP has always used a group of experts to provide comments and advice.  

For the Technical Forum for industry, there are about 70 members from throughout Europe. These are experts in industrial energy efficiency. As the terms of reference states: “The membership of the Forum is open to all interested parties that currently work in energy efficiency and shall consist of experienced individuals who work within organizations that are leaders themselves in the various constituency groups that make up the European energy efficiency marketplace – namely investors, building and asset owners, energy efficiency project developers, vendors of energy efficiency equipment and services, NGOs and government agencies.”  

Some of the questions discussed during the second technical forum included:  

  • Should there be one or two protocols – one for complex and one for targeted or is it better to have one integrated protocol?   

  • With energy audits being the starting point of any energy efficiency project under a best practice, should these be a mandatory requirement?
  • Is there a plan to trial the protocols on real projects?
  • How will the protocols be applied to different industrial sectors?
  • How can the benefits of the ICP process be communicated to investors?
  • What is the overlap between the ICP protocols and IPMVP (International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol)?
  • How should non-energy related cost savings be considered in the protocols? 
  • Should the protocols consider primary energy as well as final energy?
  • What experience should process specialist be required to have?  

These and many other issues were raised.  The technical team is now encouraging members of the Technical Forum to come forward with more comments. The protocols will be revised and, following a third meeting of the Technical Forum near the end of November, will be published the first week of December. Again, you can still join the Technical Forum to engage or at least be amongst the first with full information about what is coming. You can join Technical Forum here. 

Next steps  

ICP Europe is now looking for potential pilot projects to test the process. Project developers will be trained and certified to use the Protocols. ICP Europe will also be moving to the next phase of developing protocols for district energy and street lighting.  

If you are interested in participating on those Technical Forums, please go to our website to register.  Information is available here [http://europe.eeperformance.org/technical-forum.html].  

If you need more information, please contact our Technical Director, Luís Castanheira at luis.castanheira@eeperformance.org or Rod Janssen at rod.janssen@ee-ip.org.  

For other related blogs prepared by Energy Efficiency in Industrial Processes on the ICP project, go to the EEIP website or directly to   

About the Author

Rod Janssen is the President of Energy Efficiency in Industrial Processes (EEIP).