There are many good reasons to save energy: protecting the environment and lowering costs are two of the primary arguments expressed in corporate boardrooms. Yet there are also just as many reasons why potential savings go unused. First and foremost: a lack of knowledge. Any company that doesn't understand the savings potential its power consumers or that hasn't probed the market options will in many cases simply not know how to cut energy consumption for the long term.
This situation in particular is addressed by Learning Energy Efficient Networks, or LEEN, for short. The idea comes from Switzerland, where they have successfully been in practice for over 15 years. They are, at their core, no more than a collaboration between 10 to 15 similarly minded companies from the same industry or economic space, meeting several times a year to discuss energy efficiency. While it may sound unspectacular, in practice it has delivered significant cost savings.
Cutting real costs
One major hurdle for implementation of corporate energy saving measures are 'transaction costs', meaning the respective search and decision-making costs associated with a new technical solution. If you calculate the costs for a comprehensive market survey or an analysis of the potential options into the estimated investment costs, then in many costs the investment plans are no longer justifiable.
The successful LEEN movement in Switzerland arrived in Germany a few years ago. The German federal government came to terms in 2014 with various business associations and organizations regarding a comprehensive introduction of energy-efficiency networks . The goal of the action alliance is to initiate roughly 500 new networks by 2020, thus contributing significantly to an increase in the energy efficiency of industry, the trades, retail and industry.
The potential savings are enormous.
And the results to date are eye-opening: 30 pilot networks formed since the start of the alliance have networked almost 370 companies. On average, each of them has cut 2,700 Megawatt-hours of electricity, 940 tons of carbon dioxide and 180,000 euros in energy costs – annually ! This doesn't even count benefits for regional companies who benefit from investment volumes from network partners: on average, the networks invest roughly seven million euros within three to four years.
No wonder then that with the start phase now concluded, more than 50 such networks have been created Germany-wide, encompassing almost 500 companies. The government's goal of establishing more than 500 networks by 2020 remains a work in progress, however.
Of interest for SMEs as well
To date it has been primarily mid-sized and large firms in the production industries and energy utilities that have joined energy-efficiency networks. Energy audits and managements are among the measures that represent a firm foundation for participating in the network. Another goal of the initiative's work is to make the networks more attractive for smaller firms and expanding to fields such as retail and the trades. The majority of networks have been created in Bavaria, Hesse, Baden-Wurttemberg, North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony.
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