Helping Swedish SMEs become more energy efficient

The Swedish Energy Agency has joined forces with regional and local regulatory authorities to develop a new project that helps small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across Sweden become more energy efficient. By using the existing environmental supervision structure as a channel to provide education and support, the Incitament för energieffektivisering (energy efficiency incentive) project has not only ensured a broad reach across industries, but also helped develop energy-related knowledge and competencies within regional and local authorities.

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The Incitament för energieffektivisering project helps Swedish SMEs improve their energy efficiency. ©Energimyndigheten/Shutterstock (2017) The Incitament för energieffektivisering project helps Swedish SMEs improve their energy efficiency. ©Energimyndigheten/Shutterstock (2017)

" The municipalities are very satisfied with the materials, which they can also use outside of the project when meeting companies who are not SMEs. These companies share positive feedback, for example after visiting Volvo CE. The project creates a well-functioning cooperation between different regional and local energy efficiency actors. "

Regional project manager, Kronoberg

Swedish SMEs that are subject to environmental supervision were already being visited by supervisors. Thanks to dedicated training, these supervisors can also now provide advice, methodology and tools for improving energy efficiency. By January 2020, the project had already provided additional training to around 700 environmental supervisors, visited almost 2 000 SMEs across Sweden, and supported 422 SMEs in establishing and implementing plans to improve their energy efficiency.

A four-phased project

Beginning in March 2016 and due to end in December 2021, the project was divided into four phases.

In the first phase, the Swedish Energy Agency, the county administrative boards and municipalities mapped out the energy-related services and competencies of the regional and local authorities. They identified the SMEs who fall under the authorities’ supervision and who would therefore be in the project’s scope.  

Phases two and three were carried out in parallel: in phase two, the educational materials were developed and supervisors were trained in energy efficiency, with a focus on methods, tools and using the communications materials; in phase three, the supervisors started helping and supporting SMEs control and monitor their energy use and implement energy-saving measures.

The project’s goal is that by the end of 2021, the new methods will have been used during 2 500 supervisory visits to SMEs and that 1 500 of those SMEs will be working strategically and systematically to decrease their energy usage.

The fourth and final stage of the project will see an evaluation of the whole project and its success.

Streamlining information dissemination

The decision to use the environmental supervisory structure as the vehicle for the new project was a judicious one.

Making use of an existing, well-established channel allowed the project to focus on meeting the needs of SMEs and developing comprehensive training and communications materials, rather than having to invest in a separate delivery mechanism. At the same, using this channel means that different industries can be reached in the same way, reducing differences between industries in energy efficiency.

Also, with supervisors able to assist and advise SMEs on both environmental and energy matters, companies are better supported in taking a holistic approach – when companies become more energy efficient they lower their costs, strengthen their competitiveness and protect the environment. As a result, companies can comply with the requirements set by the Environmental Code for companies to conserve energy and mainly use renewable energy sources.

Building knowledge and reinforcing networks

The project brings distinct benefits to the county administrative boards and municipalities, who had the opportunity to build their own knowledge and competencies around energy issues.

The tools, methods and guidelines developed within the project – including industry-wide guides on the best technologies, resources for developing plans, films showing examples of companies successful in reducing their energy usage – remain available even after the end of the project, and can also be used outside of work with SMEs.

During all phases of the project, the county administrative boards operated networks for the municipal supervisory staff in each county, which enabled a coordinated and effective dialogue with the SMEs.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Incitament för energieffektivisering” is EUR 8 465 250, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 4 232 625 through the “National regional fund programme for investments in growth and jobs 2014-2020” Operational Programme for the 2014-2020 programming period. The investment falls under the priority “Low-carbon economy”.

Draft date