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Smaller enterprises in Germany are reluctant to use energy efficiency services

by Philipp Schmidt , 05.06.2014

Increasing energy efficiency is a key aspect to lower energy consumption in Europe. In light of this goal, the European Union (EU) directs its member states to increase energy efficiency across the general population and industry. Germany adopted the directive through multiple measures, one of which is to promote energy services through utilities and specialized service providers.

EDL lack market penetration

Energy efficiency services (German: Energieeffizienzdienstleistungen – or EDL) allow companies to lower energy consumption and thus lower their energy costs – a key aspect in today’s competitive markets. However, even though utilities and specialized service providers offer a broad range of energy efficiency services, current practices still show a low market penetration across small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

GfK sheds light on reasons

In order to find out more about the lower-than-expected market penetration, GfK conducted in-depth interviews with a broad range of SMEs. The interview partners – GfK talked to company owners, managing directors, facility managers and energy manager – were keen on the subject and in unison recognized the need to save energy. It became apparent that the services being offered on the market are difficult to understand. From the user's perspective, there is a lack of transparent information on the available services, the projected outcome of measures and the associated costs. The highly varied market of energy suppliers, advisors, service providers and energy plant manufacturers creates great uncertainty in relation to the neutrality of a service or advice, and the costs involved. However, energy providers came out comparatively well with regard to expertise and professionalism, in particular.

It is not just costs

The interviews revealed that decision-makers in SMEs do not solely focus on costs when considering energy efficiency services. Setting up standardized cost-benefit-rations is a strong suggestion GfK gives to providers already in this early stage of the research. Furthermore, the environmental aspect is an interesting option to use in external communications and companies are keen to use sustainability in their public relations.

Driving customer demand

Nowadays, increasing energy efficiency is pushed by governments but adopted by few industries. A broad penetration across more industries including smaller companies will require key decision-makers to recognize energy efficiency as a competitive advantage. “Companies providing energy efficiency services don’t meet customer demand to date”, says Claudia Schmies, former Head of Market Research at RWE and Counsellor of the GfK EEDL Monitor. Dr. Roland Abold, Head of GfK’s Energy practice, agrees: “Energy providers need to understand customer demand and adopt their energy services accordingly. This will allow them to tailor their product management and marketing strategy and meet their customers’ demand”.

The GfK EEDL Monitor

GfK established the EEDL Monitor to track the market potential of energy efficiency services in Germany. The results are derived from the first qualitative stage, which will be followed by a quantitative stage with interviews across SMEs and the public sector in Germany. More information about the EEDL Monitor can be found on the Microsite as well on GfK’s Energy and Industrial Goods practices.

For more information, please contact Philipp Schmidt, Account Manager at GfK’s Energy, Environment & Industrial Goods, at p.schmidt@gfk.com.