The role of facilitator
Energy performance contracting (EPC) services are usually complex and long-term projects. Many building owners therefore do not dare to undertake such a project without competent and independent advice. Thus, many EPC markets in Europe are pushed forward by market facilitators that provide the necessary know-how and experience to support building owners or facility managers for the successful implementation of EPC projects. The EPC facilitator acts as a mediator between client and the energy service company (ESCO) to build up a sustainable relationship and to create trust between the contract partners.
The tasks of the EPC Facilitator usually include:
- Initial assessment of project suitability
- Initial assessment of potential energy savings and investment required
- Initial technical analyses
- Support client during procurement process
- Provide advice throughout the project
The role of the facilitator is addressed differently throughout EU countries. In some countries, independent experts drive EPC projects (Austria, Germany, Ireland, and Spain), in other countries national or local authorities/agencies or ESCO associations were set up to support the EES-market (Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Spain, and UK) and in other countries ESCOs act as facilitators (Italy). The services usually provided by facilitators are generally the same in all countries including technical, economic and/or legal consulting as well as the promotion and lobbying for EPC – though not all services are on offer in all countries.
Dual energy services
If EPC projects are already complex, dual energy services are even more challenging. Dual energy services are classical EPC services, which are supplemented by a demand response (DR) component. As demand response services are even more unknown by building owners or facility managers, facilitators play an even more important role in informing clients and in supporting market penetration of this model.
New aspects of the facilitator service
The business model of dual energy services requires new competences on the facilitators’ side. Facilitators need to adapt certain work steps and partly enlarge their portfolio of services. The facilitator has to develop additional know-how in the following areas:
- Regional framework conditions (legislation, funding, financing, market opportunities, market players, etc.) for demand response services.
- Comprehensive technical know-how about both existing and newly installed technology and the associated DR potential.
- Simplifying complexity as he has to explain, structure and organise two complex services within one contract.
- Feasibility assessment and thus of the technological and organisational possibilities as well as the economic and ecological potential of DR within the project.
- Knowledge of the effects on comfort that DR services can trigger.
- Know-how about the difference DR models like implicit and explicit DR services and thus about the possibilities of the project design.
- Definition of a “baseline profile” with a clear differentiation between the EPC project and the DR activities. The baseline profile not only needs the energy consumptions of the last years, it needs also the comfort parameters with and without EPC and DR, the typical pattern of usage and a clear specification and operation profile of the building technology, which are part of the DR service.
- Definition of transparent M&V methods to differentiate the EPC and DR achievements of the project.
- Contract design of extended EPC contracts towards dual energy service contracts.
- Evaluation and negotiation of DR offers during the procurement process.
As dual energy services just start to enter the market, it will need some time, that these services become noticed by potential clients. Even EPC facilitators will need more information about these new possibilities. Facilitators have to be aware, that DR services within the EPC project will not be the major part of the project and not the part with the big earnings and savings. The DR part will be more or less the bonus of the project, which might be the cherry on the top which makes it more profitable and successful.