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Energy efficient small businesses

Small and medium-sized enterprises are the focus of a three-year international investment on energy efficiency. Patrik Thollander, Division of Energy Systems, leads the project.

Patrik Thollander

“Research into energy efficiency has concentrated on large companies, we know very little regarding the potential for small and medium sized companies (SMEs),” claims Patrik Thollander, Research Associate at the Division of Energy Systems at Linköping University (LiU).

Thollander has been appointed to run a three-year so-called Annex-project in the International Energy Agency, (IEA), industrial investment, IETS. Six countries have joined the project so far, however more have shown interest.

In Europe, for example, 99 % of SMEs have fewer than 250 employees and a turnover under EUR 50 M. They lack major export capabilities and are often suppliers to larger global companies. They operate in a variety of industries and are often very specialised.

Thollander explains, “Prodigious diversification is probably one of the reasons why no one has looked at them before.”

However now it's time. Over three years scientists will now thoroughly examine SMEs in participating countries. The project consists of four subprojects:

  • Instruments for improving energy efficiency and savings, a sub-project that will likely be led by Spain.
  • A study of what energy is used for. It is said that 68-69 % of a company’s energy is used to drive electric motors, yet no one knows if it's true. Furthermore, areas for potential energy saving will also be examined and the obstacles that prevent a reduction in energy consumption in said areas. LiU will pilot these studies in collaboration with researchers in Milan, Italy.
  • Discussion regarding methods, energy management and benchmarking (comparative studies). A peek into the future addressing which new technologies are on the horizon. Probably driven from Germany.
  • Energy services and business models for SMEs. Run from Finland.

Those projects granted IETS, will be funded by the individual countries' energy authorities.

“The budget could total the equivalent of SEK 10M over three years,” said Patrik Thollander.

Enrico oh Rogelio

Last week, representatives from research groups in Japan, Brazil, Germany, Spain and Italy met with researchers at LiU for an introductory workshop.

“It was a good meeting with lively discussions. Some countries simply want to focus on the technology, but we believe that, for these types of studies, we must also take into account the users, systems and energy management. Even if a company could earn millions by turning off the ventilation system when the premises are unmanned, nothing is done unless the management focus on just that,” says Patrik Thollander.

Sandra och Jakob

He’s both dreading and looking forward to leading the project, which will not be easy:

“Significant potential for energy savings exists in the system, however there isn’t a specific thing that can be purchased, but rather a way of thinking and being - a culture if you like. Yet this will be exciting and even if I have been appointed "manager" of the project, there is a large group working on this at the Division of Energy Systems, he says.

Osamu Kimura

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Monica Westman Svenselius 2012-03-27




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Last updated: 2013-05-30