Energy audit in SMEs could unlock great energy efficiency potential in Europe: a focus on the Italian model.

Energy audit in SMEs could unlock great energy efficiency potential in Europe: a focus on the Italian model.

Energy Management 31 March 2017 Silvia Zinetti.

Energy audits play an essential role in the achievement of energy savings at the European level. They are an effective tool to providing the necessary information on the existing energy consumption and the opportunities to save energy.  

The ‘energy audit’ tool, first introduced by The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) following the 1973 oil crisis, became popular in Europe since the early 1990s. It was present in Article 7 of the Council Directive 93/76/EEC, in Article 12 of the Directive 2006/32/EC, and in Article 8 of the current Directive 2012/27/EU, also known as Energy Efficiency Directive (EED).  

Article 2 (25) of the EED defines ‘energy audit’ as follows:              

“Energy Audit means a systematic procedure with the purpose of obtaining adequate knowledge of the existing energy consumption profile of a building or group of buildings, an industrial or commercial operation or installation or a private or public service, identifying and quantifying cost-effective energy savings opportunities, and reporting the findings;”  

The EED Directive strengthens the energy audit obligations for the Member States. In particular, Article 8(4) of the Directive makes energy audits mandatory for large enterprises. Yet, the Directive does not require large enterprises to actually implement any audit recommendations. Furthermore, while Article 8(2) put a strong emphasis on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and advises “Member States to develop programmes to encourage SMEs to undergo energy audits and the subsequent implementation of the recommendations from these audits”, it does not set any mandatory energy audits requirements for SMEs.  

Following the implementation of the EED Directive, we are now discovering best practices set out by some Member States that go beyond the EED provisions and could be an example for the rest of Europe. According to a recent study on energy efficiency in enterprises carried out by the European Commission[i], countries such as Italy, Portugal, Belgium (Flanders) and Romania, do have mandatory requirements for the implementations of the measures identified in the energy audit, although applicable only to energy-intensive companies. As the definition of SMEs in Article 2(26) of the EED does not refer to energy intensity or to energy consumption, an energy consuming company can also be an SME.  

This post focuses on the model developed in Italy, which include two level of innovation: ·        

  1. SMEs to undergo energy audits if energy consuming companies;
  2. Mandatory implementation of the identified measures by energy consuming companies.  

The Italian model  

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