Changing energy behaviour

“The Doha talks” are already being dismissed as a failure. Global leaders have again shown that willingness to make any coordinated moves toward curbing severe climate changes just isn’t on their agenda. This unwillingness to act is for many people quite incomprehensible. It is also scary, sad and frustrating. But instead of letting ourselves be bogged down in negative thoughts, it is vital that focus for us all is on what we as private persons, neighborhoods, cities, organizations and business can do – despite the obvious lack of political visions for change.

So – what about the way forward for ECOHZ; and what role does ECOHZ plan to play.

  1. Climate change is obviously real – and IS an immediate threat to our existing way of life.
  2. Renewable energy is a key component in moving to a low-carbon economy
  3. Time is running short and we believe that picking one climate smart solution over another is not the right thing to do. We need all available solutions on the table now, and a broad consensus that they all are needed.
  4. The market – consumers and businesses – have an essential role to play in creating a sustainability transformation. We are optimistic when we see that businesses across Europe increasingly recognize and also communicate the strong coupling between sustainability as such and running profitable business.
  5. We believe that we all can do something, and that we actually must. We believe that every small or large contribution toward a low-carbon economy inspires others to follow.

In ECOHZ we have formulated changing energy behavior as our vision. This is broad and this is ambitious, and reflects a strong belief that change needs to come at many levels and on numerous arenas. On a global and national level, change in energy behavior is needed to stimulate major transformation of energy systems and infrastructure, enabling a rapid transition to a low-carbon energy and renewable intensive economy.

Equally important is challenging and changing established behavior at local levels. With examples ranging from developing municipal electric mobility in Europe, installing solar-powered lightning in remote villages in the developing world, or educating school children in the importance of using less energy. We obviously understand that we cannot solve this alone. But working with other like-minded organizations, we firmly believe that we can play a significant role in changing energy behavior over time. So what will our main contribution be?

When establishing “the Guarantee of Origin market” back in 2002, the EU’s main ambition was to stimulate both private consumers and corporate customers to actively choose renewable energy sources in preference to fossil and nuclear-based energy. The Guarantee of Origin documents for consumer how, where and from which power company a given amount of electricity has been produced. It also documents that this renewable electricity is delivered – physically – onto the European electricity network. The EU realized that it was less important where the renewable energy was produced and delivered onto the grid, as long as the total European share of renewables increased over time.

With the GO market in 2011 reaching a point of balance between supply and demand for the first time – we feel this first goal has been partly reached. Using the momentum created among European consumers and businesses, we believe the timing now is right to develop this market to be even more relevant, with increased value for all players and with a clear link to the creation of more renewable energy.

In short – especially businesses – all around – are making moves to purchase renewable, or even invest directly in new renewable projects. One good example – is the Danish toymaker, LEGO. It announced in February their plan to invest EUR 400 million in offshore wind, and also with the ambition of meeting 100% of its energy needs by 2020.

An even more impressive example is the Swedish furniture maker, IKEA. On the 23rd of October this year, IKEA raised the stakes again, and through its new Sustainability Strategy, committed EUR 1.5 billion to RE investments. It aims to produce RE comparable to 70 % of its global power consumption by 2015, and 100 % by 2020. And there are many more examples, which are set to follow suit.

But looking carefully at the European landscape, you do not need a keen eye to recognize that public financing across many regions are in shambles – threatening much of the aggressive RE deployment of the last decade. European banks – a traditional source of financing for renewables – are also under the strain of new equity requirements.

On the other side – the global climate continues to warm, and numerous renewable projects in our immediate geography here in Europe, are ready to be built. But, and there is a big BUT. Many projects are actually ON HOLD, waiting to be realized and in need of financing.

To summarize – existing fossil-based power production need to be replaced, good renewable projects exist, but less cash is available from traditional sources. The good news seems to be that companies are waking up to the challenge and will play a vital role in future renewable project financing. It is not likely that most companies will have the capabilities, or financial means to invest into renewable projects directly like Lego and IKEA has opted to do.

This is where ECOHZ believes there is an important role to play. Using the GO as a tool, ECOHZ wants to allow customers to indirectly invest or contribute to new projects. ECOHZ will seek to play a role in matching businesses with projects using the GO system. Our role in ECOHZ is to screen, qualify and present projects, and then secure attractive financial models that will engage customers to purchase the GO’s, and thus invest. The projects can be located in any given region across Europe, and be based on any renewable technology –ranging from wind to hydro to solar. The projects that will qualify will ideally be projects that are ready to be built, but where necessary top financing still is lacking.

To round things off; in ECOHZ we are optimistic. We truly believe we can contribute to realizing many additional new renewable projects, that otherwise would be postponed or worst case abandoned all together. Critical for success is engaging our trusted business partners and distributors across Europe, in an open and close cooperation. These partners are close to their local markets and customers – essential knowledge in motivating the final customers to act.

In ECOHZ we really feel that we are moving toward our vision of – changing energy behavior.