Design of a methodology for impact assessment of energy efficiency programs: measuring indirect effects in the Chilean case

Abstract

Today, many countries are promoting energy efficiency (EE) measures as part of their energy strategy. Among the goals sought with these actions are producing a decoupling between economic growth and energy consumption, reducing the dependence on fossil fuels as a primary energy source, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Measuring direct, indirect, and co-benefit effects of EE programs is crucial. However, in the current literature and practice, assessments of EE programs have focused on direct impacts (i.e., impacts whose energy savings can be directly and instantaneously quantified) due to their objectivity and simplicity to put evaluations in a cost-effectiveness framework. Moreover, several assessment methodologies studying the indirect effects of EE programs only focus on identifying the effects and quantifying a proxy of the effects in terms of the number of activities developed or the number of people attending EE training or dissemination events. Some few existing methodologies correctly assess the indirect effects of EE measures, but they often require a significant budget. We propose a new methodology to assess the impacts of EE programs, especially focusing on indirect effects (i.e., long-term effects on energy use), that is suitable for low-budget programs. We focus on those indirect effects having the capability of mobilizing long-term energy savings through transformations in energy markets. We attempt to measure the potential future energy savings that are sustainable in the long term due to a behavioral transformation of energy markets. In order to measure these indirect effects, we use three axes: presence, valuation, and mobilizing capacity. This methodology was applied to 12 EE programs (implemented during 2011 and 2012 in Chile) in order to obtain their indirect impact assessment.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The cost-effectiveness assessment method used by the NEEA also proposes assessment method for indirect effects of EE programs. Regarding the indirect impact of EE initiatives, such as education/training skills or knowledge transfer, not only the number of people trained is assessed and reported in this methodology but also comparative indicators among different participants and nonparticipants of programs are included (NEEA 2015). These comparative indicators used in the evaluation of indirect effects of EE initiatives incorporate, for instance, EE actions reported by trained people, allowing a forecast of the market progress evaluation. However, most of the time, NEEA’s methodology measures the indirect effects of EE initiatives by just counting the number of participant in these EE initiatives, although a more comprehensive assessment methodology is available (NEEA 2014). This is particularly true in the case of small EE programs, where establishing comparative indicators among different participants and nonparticipants of the programs (like identifying and classifying EE actions reported by trained people) is relatively too costly (NEEA 2015).

  2. 2.

    The IG may be formed by participants or beneficiaries of programs, representatives of institutions or the government, etc. depending on the objective of the evaluation plan and the use of the information obtained therein.

  3. 3.

    A common problem for evaluators is that measurements vary within each assessment, making difficult establishing long-term trends. Accordingly, it may be useful reporting common metrics across different evaluations of different programs, so program managers and evaluators can easily compare the performance of programs involving similar activities.

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Acknowledgments

The work reported in this paper was partially supported by the AChEE under a grant associated to the project reported in Chilean Energy Efficiency Agency (2013). Sonia Vera has been partially supported by a doctoral scholarship from National Committee of Scientific and Technological Research (CONICYT, for its acronym in Spanish), CONICYT-PCHA/Doctorado Nacional/2013. The work reported in this paper is based on the project reported in (Chilean Energy Efficiency Agency 2013), which was required by the AChEE authorities. The ideas presented in this paper are only responsibility of the authors, and they do not represent the position or thoughts of the AChEE.

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Sauma, E., Vera, S., Osorio, K. et al. Design of a methodology for impact assessment of energy efficiency programs: measuring indirect effects in the Chilean case. Energy Efficiency 9, 699–721 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12053-015-9380-0

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Keywords

  • Energy efficiency
  • Public programs design
  • Impact evaluation methodology
  • Indirect impacts

JEL classification

  • C18
  • C81
  • D04
  • D61
  • H30