Business Cases for National Quality Assurance Schemes for Energy Efficiency Services

In 11 European countries the QualitEE project has engaged with stakeholders to research and develop the opportunity for national quality assurance schemes based on the quality criteria developed within the project.

Each country has documented the process in national business case reports, which offer key insight into the various approaches that can be taken, and in some cases provide a roadmap to the implementation of operational schemes that can increase trust, quality and uptake of energy efficiency services. The range of institutionalisation approaches taken has been summarised below:

  • Incorporation into national standards – (Spain) integrates quality criteria into existing standards published by the national standards body UNE.
  • Government scheme – (Czech Republic) uses the national adaptation of the quality criteria as the basis for a scheme led by the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Energy Performance Contracting projects are individually certified past the first savings verification point, and service providers are certified based on achieving 2 or 3 certified projects dependent on value.
  • Trade association schemes – (Austria & UK) similar to the Czech Republic, the UK scheme – to be administered by the Energy Services & Technology Association –  uses sample project verification past the first savings verification point to accredit service providers. The established DECA scheme in Austria offers a project level label for providers that commit to deliver services in line with the quality criteria.
  • Incorporation in national ESCO registries – (Greece, Latvia & Slovenia) all EU countries were required to establish ESCO registries under the Energy Efficiency Directive. The quality criteria are incorporated into the process for appointing ESCOs to these registries.
  • Enhanced code of conduct – (Bulgaria & Slovakia) where the quality criteria have been included as an extension of the European code of conduct for Energy Performance Contracting, which has been signed by service providers in these countries.
  • Exceptions – (Belgium & Germany) In Germany it was found there was no demand in the market for certification, so ASEW – the German association of municipal utilities – has opted instead to use the quality criteria to offer a contract checking service. In Belgium it was found that the market was not yet sufficiently mature to accept a scheme, although useful groundwork has been prepared for the future. Interestingly the most popular approach during consultation was a hybrid scheme using sample projects to accredit providers, similar to the approach selected in the Czech Republic and the UK.
This work represents significant progress in developing quality assurance schemes for Energy Efficiency Services across Europe, and the reports will provide a valuable resource to others looking to implement similar approaches. In most cases the schemes are at early stages of implementation but the scene is set for these to come to fruition. It is vital that they do so, as the standardisation and simplification of investment appraisal in this area is critical to scaling investments via aggregation to access cost effective financing.

Rodrigo Morell, project lead for quality assurance schemes and Managing Director at CREARA