Tag Archives: energy services

Modes of governance for municipal energy efficiency services – the case of LED street lighting in Germany

Energy efficiency retrofits are often impeded by high perceived investment risks, long payback periods and a lack of skills. At the municipal level these issues are particularly pronounced as procuring, implementing, and managing retrofits can exceed existing municipal governance capacities. The diffusion of municipal LED street lighting as a replacement for conventional lighting serves as an example. This paper argues that technological (e.g. complexity and maturity), economic (e.g. selling services vs. products and financing costs), institutional (e.g. property situation and contracts) and competency barriers to retrofitting (e.g. lack of measurement capacity and qualified facilitators) translate into transaction costs. We develop a taxonomy of appropriate modes of municipal retrofitting governance based on transaction costs economics. The findings indicate that more market-based solutions, energy performance contracts in particular, can facilitate the procurement of innovative energy efficiency retrofitting solutions and associated investments among municipalities if neutral tenders, open-book accounting, municipal ownership and intermediary organisations allow municipalities to choose appropriate governance structures for particular technologies and retrofits.

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What encourages local authorities to engage with energy performance contracting for retrofitting? – Evidence from German municipalities

Municipalities aiming at mitigating climate change by implementing new energy efficiency technologies face budgetary and capacity constraints. Outsourcing through energy service contracting could provide a solution. This paper reports results from a survey of 1298 municipalities concerning barriers to retrofitting public street lighting and the possible role of energy service contracting to overcome these barriers. Using a logistic regression analysis, the authors investigate determinants of opting for energy service contracts in the specific context of LED retrofits. Results point to an advantage of outsourcing in a financially and capacity-constrained environment, which corresponds with the main reasons for engaging in contracting: minimising investments and financial risks. However, municipalities often do not fully grasp the risks associated with retrofitting especially using a novel technology such as LED. In relation to that they underestimate the risk reduction potential of energy performance contracts (EPC). Previous experience with outsourcing increases the probability to engage in servitization although certain existing partnerships, particularly with utilities, prevent municipalities from considering energy performance contracts. Interestingly, engaging an energy consultant has a negative propensity to use energy service contracts, while pre-negotiated standardised contracts for energy performance contracts have a positive influence.

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Catalysing the energy service market: The role of intermediaries

Joint work with SPRU/UK has been published:

The UK market for energy service contracts is expanding, owing in part to the emergence of intermediaries for those contracts in different parts of the public sector. These intermediaries combine a legal framework for establishing contracts with an organisational framework that facilitates contract negotiation and execution. This paper examines the nature and operation of these intermediaries in more detail, including their achievements to date and their similarities and differences. It uses ideas from transaction cost economics to develop a theoretical model of the contracting decision and shows how intermediary organisations can lower the transaction costs incurred by both clients and contractors, thereby increasing the viability of contracting. The paper argues that intermediaries can play an important role in expanding the market for energy service contracts, and hence in delivering cost-effective energy efficiency improvements throughout the public sector.

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