By: Matt Golden, Senior Energy Finance Consultant
As interest in and adoption of EDF’s Investor Confidence Project (ICP) protocols has continued to grow in the United States, so too has interest internationally. The Investor Confidence Project was invited to showcase our efforts at ESCO Europe, the continent’s largest conference for energy service providers. This year, the conference was held in Barcelona, Spain and drew an array of participants from across Europe and the public and private sectors, including representatives from finance companies, governments, and non-profits with interests in the energy industry.
I was privileged to serve as both a panelist in a roundtable discussion on barriers to ESCO financing, and a speaker on “Improving Access to Finance,” a well-attended session with representatives from the European Investment Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and European Energy Efficiency Fund.
EDF was invited to attend this conference based on a series of conversations over the last year with European stakeholders facing the same barriers to investing in energy efficiency as their American counterparts. With policymakers in Europe similarly counting on a vast expansion of the market in building retrofits and an expected influx of private and public capital, there is a focus on standardization and policies that can enable capital and investors to enter the market with fewer transaction costs.
Over the course of the three-day ESCO Europe event, the ICP team met with more than thirty stakeholders. The feedback on ICP was extremely positive, with stakeholders sharing the view that the ICP protocols meet European goals of spurring more energy efficiency projects and reducing carbon emissions while being adaptable to the European market. After becoming familiar with the Investor Confidence Project and its objectives, European stakeholders agreed that working together to create a version of the ICP protocols in Europe would help standardize the market on a global level.
As a result, the Investor Confidence Project is now in conversation with a range of public and private stakeholders from across the European Union and U.K. about ways to link and collaborate on our efforts. In particular, we have been working with Steven Fawkes from the U.K., an author on ESCO financing who also has a long history in the energy efficiency field and private sector experience in the ESCO industry.
There is a great opportunity to expand the scope of ICP to develop a parallel set of protocols for the European marketplace. As a first step in the process, we will gather a broad steering committee with both geographic and stakeholder diversity to develop a plan for both funding and execution. Working to adapt our current protocols offers a major advantage for the Europeans, both in terms of time and effort, as we won’t be starting from scratch. There’s also the added benefit of creating a more consistent market across the U.S. and Europe, which will speed adoption in both markets.
One of our key takeaways from the ESCO conference is that while here in the U.S. we tend to look to Europe as more advanced, Europe is actually looking to the U.S. for solutions. In reality, we are all struggling with the same basic set of market barriers, and there appears to be substantial opportunity for collaboration on many fronts.
We look forward to ongoing collaboration with our European counterparts and believe that in an age of global markets, linking efforts to overcome similar barriers to scaling energy efficiency investment will help accelerate both markets.