Transforming the “efficiency gap” into a viable business opportunity: lessons learned from the ESCO experience in Sweden

Kate Lindgren, Lars J Nilsson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingPaper in conference proceedingpeer-review


Energy service companies (ESCOs) are often portrayed as important change agents in capturing energy efficiency opportunities to curb global energy demand and mitigate climate change. Yet, the literature in this area is limited. While many studies analyze economic and environmental impacts from energy efficiency programs, far less attention has been devoted to evaluating managerial and other challenges for ESCOs in transforming the "efficiency gap" into a viable business. Against the broader question of how to address Demand Side Management (DSM) in a deregulated market, we explore how and the extent to which the Swedish ESCO market’s development has addressed the efficiency gap. Sweden presents an interesting case study given its early experience in energy market reform as well as the rapid growth in recent years of its ESCO market. The insights garnered are especially important as Member States prepare to implement the Directive on Energy End-use Efficiency and Energy Services. By conducting in-depth interviews with ESCOs operating in Sweden (including multi-nationals), we address the following: 1) current market opportunity analysis, including how Swedish market conditions shape firms’ business strategies, 2) service functions and business characteristics, with attention to perceptions regarding which market segments are considered compelling, and 3) how policy might expand the size and attractiveness of additional sectors/market segments. This analysis is informed by follow-up discussions with policymakers and other relevant players. The paper concludes with insights regarding how public intervention and support as well as voluntary private sector action may stimulate ESCO business investment in energy efficiency.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationECEEE Summer Study proceedings
PublisherEuropean Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ECEEE)
ISBN (Print)9789163344541
Publication statusPublished - 2009
EventAct! Innovate! Deliver! Reducing energy demand sustainably - La Colle Sur Loup, France
Duration: 2009 Jun 12009 Jun 6

Publication series

ISSN (Print)1653-7025


ConferenceAct! Innovate! Deliver! Reducing energy demand sustainably
CityLa Colle Sur Loup

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Energy Systems


  • ESCOs
  • efficiency gap
  • Energy Services Directive
  • Sweden
  • business case
  • business strategy


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