The application of the Investor Confidence Project (ICP) continues to grow across the USA, Europe and Canada, with growing interest from India, China, the Middle East and Africa. It is easy to get carried away with thinking the ICP is the answer to the problem of how do we significantly accelerate investment into energy efficiency but, as I have always said, it is just one piece – albeit a very important piece – of solving that problem. I have summarized my thinking in the “jigsaw of energy efficiency financing” which has four pieces which need to be in place in the same market at the same time for investment to flow – standardization (ICP), pipelines of projects, finance (development finance as well as project finance), and capacity building for end-users, the energy efficiency industry and the finance industry.
ICP is at its heart just about helping project developers to develop better projects, higher quality projects with a higher probability of delivering the savings that are predicted. Within ICP we always said that by doing that it would bring reduced transaction costs and reduced performance risk. That hypothesis has been validated by MunichRe HSB who as part of their energy efficiency performance insurance offer ICP certified projects lower costs through both removing the need for clients to pay for a separate engineering assessment, and through lower insurance premiums. The use of energy efficiency performance insurance from a global player like MunichRe HSB can help make projects more bankable through taking on performance risks.
Another element of improving the flow of investment into energy efficiency is building better business cases. Better business cases come about through better underlying projects and better appraisal of value and risks. Business cases that just say this is the capex and this is the projected energy cost savings are not good enough anymore and just result in projects not proceeding and frustrated project developers. This is where the EEFIG Underwriting Toolkit comes in. The Toolkit is a framework that encourages financiers assessing projects to identify all sources of value including the non-energy benefits such as health, well-being and better productivity – many of which are both more valuable and more strategic than just simple energy cost savings. The Toolkit also explore the risks of energy efficiency projects which for too long have been ignored. We need to move from the uncertainty of not knowing the real risks of projects to fully understanding and quantifying the risks – just like the financial industry does for other asset classes. Pretending there is no risk, or just living with uncertainty is not good enough as uncertainty is a major barrier to investment flowing at scale.
So, if you want to increase the flow of capital into energy efficiency develop better projects and build better business cases.