The IND-ECO project aims at promoting energy efficiency in the leather and footwear production industry removing barriers to information and capital access. INDECO multinational partnership brought together 16 organizations of the two sectors, gathered technical expertise, industry intelligence and dissemination capability”.The initiative has four primary objectives:
- Identifying, by means of energy auditing, the main areas where energy efficiency can be implemented in tanneries and in the leather value chain;
- Identifying the best technical and technological solutions available in the domestic and European context to reach higher levels of energy efficiency;
- Reaching agreements with economic and financial operators at a European, national and local level, to facilitate corporate access to finance needed to invest in energy efficiency;
- Coaching the sector’s companies in the development of energy efficiency investment plans.
- to achieve, monitor and verify initial primary energy savings at candidate manufacturing plants during the life span of the project
- to create localised novel favourable conditions (Technical, Economic and Financial Support Actions), for eighty (80) investment plans for efficient energy plant operation during the life span of the project and a much higher number of investment plans which started during or proven feasible during the project and expected to be implemented by the year 2020.
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During INDECO project execution phase, technological partners’ planned and executed 75 Energy Audits and collected inventory detailed information from a population of 201 footwear companies and 84 Tanneries, with production outputs representative of the whole EU-production of leather and footwear (more than 30% of EU-production volume). The 2 EU-benchmarks, products of statistical analysis of all collected data at an EU-scale and 75 Audit reports, were the foundations of tailored solutions offered to the companies from a new Databank created for this purpose, comprising 267 best candidate technologies and devices, as well as an inventory of the best available zero or low cost solutions towards energy efficiency. In parallel, more than 152 favourable financial and economic solutions were identified and evaluated, options for optimising the realisation and financing of 116 short-term investments in Energy efficiency for a total value of over 6,9 million Euro, implemented during the life time of the project and in an adverse overall economic environments, particularly for the EU-SMEs. Achieved avoidance of CO2emissions exceeded the set with the project at start target by far (over 7.709 tonnes of CO2 eq. per annum) and primary energy saved by project completion were in the range of 27,161 million kWh. At the same time, a set of organisation, management, maintenance and monitoring investments, consumptions and emissions tools were devised aiming at the expected attainment of further savings in Energy consumption and CO2 emissions avoidance by the year 2020. The expected by then obtainment of 20% reduction of CO2 emissions per product unit is in good course, needing however, close monitoring and validation on an annual basis. More than 1.900 companies, 114 Associations, Districts and Energy Clusters and consortia, were involved with 2 International Workshops, 22 National Workshops, over 200 B2B ad hoc meetings, at over 50 local involvement event, trade fairs, conferences, seminars and other wide dissemination events during the triennial 2012-2015. Indirect communication of project success and potential benefits in using INDECO tools, consisted in: 6 e-Newsletters, 1 Project Flyer, 1 Energy Efficiency flyer for Manufacturers, 2 video presentations, Environmental company claims and numerous publications.
INDECO mobilised EU-companies in the leather and footwear sectors, investing in scouted energy efficient solutions, targeted to their specific audited needs; theses, in turn, rendered substantial savings in energy consumption and costs, with a rapid - medium pay back (1,5-4 years), whilst yielded notable reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. During the project, companies – especially SMEs - reported that it is difficult to access credit, and subsidies/grants to support energy efficiency are restricted or non-existent in some countries. Those invested prefer to invest on an “internal” basis.A number of barriers to investment were identified, notably in regard to access by smaller companies. These constraints, along with the general economic situation, which impacted some countries more than others, go some way to explain why some countries missed their individual targets, while the whole sector met its overall targets.
Since the tools arising from the project, along with the impact of discussions and promotion of the project are expected to have a continuing effect, after the formal end of the project, the target of a reduction in energy use of 20% by 2020 remains attainable, especially if the economic situation in most countries begins to ease. Most companies know what they would like to do in terms of investments, they just need a suitable window of opportunity in terms of access to funding and business climate, and they will invest.