Varis, K. (2023): Voluntary Energy Efficiency Agreements in Finland.  National Case Study of the 4i-TRACTION Deliverable D2.6. University of Eastern Finland. Berlin

Voluntary Energy Efficiency Agreements in Finland

This case study sheds light on voluntary energy efficiency agreements in Finland and how they were successful in delivering energy savings.

Energy efficiency has become a significant part of EU climate and energy policies and its efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C. Increasing the share of renewable energy and phasing out coal and fossil fuels simultaneously with energy efficiency improvements are crucial to support the transition towards a sustainable energy system. In addition, energy efficiency plays a crucial role in all sectors of the energy chain from energy production to transport and consumption, and European energy efficiency policy thus has an impact on several sectors. The EU's Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) enshrines the key energy efficiency obligations for member states.

Article 7 of the EED requires member states to achieve yearly energy savings through an energy efficiency obligation scheme, but member states may opt for alternative measures. In Finland, the main policy instrument to implement the obligations set in the EED is voluntary energy efficiency agreements (EEAs). This case study seeks to identify and understand the factors that have made the Finnish system of voluntary EEAs successful and effective in delivering energy savings. The EEAs are used across sectors (energy, industry, services, municipalities) and have proved significant in delivering the required energy savings.

Voluntary EEAs are a flexible system of separate energy efficiency agreements and action plans for each sector. The obligations and commitments of participants are listed in the agreement and each participant chooses how and when they implement the measures. Extensive support for identifying possible measures is offered, as well as some financial support to adopt new energy efficient technology. One of the key features of the EEAs is its flexibility in integrating new requirements, actors, and sectors to it. It has proved very cost-effective in delivering the targeted energy savings.

Many of the features of the EEAs are aligned with the needs of transformative climate policies. One of the key challenges of transformative climate policy is the need to involve actors across all sectors and different phases of the process. This case study demonstrates how the EEAs include various actors from different levels and sectors. The EEAs are negotiated in cooperation with the government and industrial and municipal associations. With the help of responsible authorities, participants identify possible energy efficiency measures and commit to continuous improvement. Energy efficiency measures are incorporated into the management systems of companies and have the potential to spur further climate considerations.

Another key feature of the EEAs is the wide and comprehensive communication by the authorities to inform companies about their possible energy efficiency measures. In addition, a network of participants has been created to exchange information. Companies and especially municipalities have benefited from sharing their experiences, both positive and negative, thereby also encouraging others to implement further energy efficiency measures. In Finland, the latest requirements introduced at EU level to provide training and guidance on energy efficiency were relatively easy to implement thanks to the flexibility and well-functioning cooperation between participants.


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