Promoting energy efficiency and circular economy in SMEs through cross-municipal cooperation
The previous roundtables during SEI Forums and RoundBaltic have suggested and promoted cross-municipal/regional collaborations as advantageous structures to assist SMEs in connection with planning and implementation of energy efficiency and circular economy. Ideally, these can function as “one-stop-shops” that guide the SMEs through the entire value chain from screening to commissioning and monitoring.
The ECSMV project – Energy efficiency and CO2 savings in companies in Region Central Jutland”. is a concrete example of an organized cross-municipal collaboration around the promotion of energy efficiency in SMEs.The project asssits companies to develop green business plans that indicate measures where the companies can reduce CO2, energy and materials, which also result in a greater financial profit. The project concerns 18 of 19 municipalities in the region and is led by Ringkøbing-Skjern, Skive and Aarhus Municipalities. Ringkøbing-Skjern has the role of project manager. Each municipality participates with a local contact person and one or more performing screening agents.
The project has resulted in green business models for 200 companies that allocate 250 million. DKK private investments. Implementation of these investments will result in 60,000 tons of CO2 reductions, 300,000 GJ of energy savings, and 40,000 tons of material savings.
In a recent evaluation, the project’s organization and the practical implementation of the collaboration are mentioned as worthy of emphasis, and as a good example of successful implementation of decentralized business promotion projects at local level. The project’s success is based, among other things, on the strong dialogue that has been established over the life of the project between the project and the municipalities, the municipalities between and between municipalities, business councils and the companies.Furthermore, the evaluation recommends, and in line with the conclusions from previous roundtables, that the green business model is used actively for a dialogue with the banks.
Conclusions from RoundBaltc Roundtables supported in further actions
- In general, there is a need for the development of competences among advisers, banks and municipalities in relation to assisting SMEs on a holistic approach that, in addition to energy savings, also considers circularity and side benefits from energy savings (including business drivers).
- In this connection, there is a need for the involvement of a wide range of stakholders around the projects, both in terms of advice and guidance, but also with respect to knowledge gathering, exchange of experiences, etc. which, overall, can help the SMEs through the project processes in the most appropriate way.
- Furthermore, the roundtables have made it clear that there is a need for national coordination regarding prerequisites, methods and competence building and which forms the framework for concrete actions and initiatives at the regional / cross-municipal level.
- Especially some smaller companies have difficulty obtaining financing in the private financial sector. There may therefore be a need to use state funds and funds to supplement loans in the private sector with forms of state guarantee. This may possibly be combined with standardization of solutions and procedures in relation to financial instruments such as e.g. guarantee funds.
- Furthermore, it has been pointed out that the general requirements for a green transition will increasingly influence the banks’ lending policy in connection with the financing of energy efficiency measures in SMEs. It is important that companies generally have well-developed strategic plans that also consider sustainability.
- The green taxonomy scheme introduced by the EU takes a decisive step towards sustainability throughout Europe, which may also be relevant for SMEs to adapt to if they are part of the value chain for other larger companies covered by the scheme. Furthermore, a “green” profile can be an asset in relation to their general competitive situation and financing of green investments.