The current model for energy efficiency is broken. It’s time to do something different. For too long, efficiency programs have been locked into costly, top-down approaches that take years to validate and provide ambiguous results.
Energy efficiency in its current form faces an existential problem. After forty years, investment in efficiency is still just a fraction of what it needs to be to meet our climate and energy goals. At the same time, given their costs, if current efficiency programs were truly to scale up, they would go bankrupt. Typically 30-50 percent of energy efficiency budgets are allocated to administrative costs instead of projects.
There is another way: open metering and real time pay-for-performance can unlock innovation by regulating markets, not businesses. With an agreed-upon system of weights and measures for efficiency, utilities and aggregators can procure energy savings just as they would bid for any other DER.
It’s time to stop forcing utilities and regulators to pick winners and let them do what they do best: enabling markets and protecting consumers.
Proprietary, engineering-model black box approaches to EM&V focus on deemed savings models and measure attribution, requiring complex, ex post facto adjustments to account for variable results.
As a result, actual information on which efficiency providers are getting real, verifiable results is hard to come by.
By calculating efficiency on an open platform using only energy consumption and weather data as inputs, we can provide insights that were never before available. And the results are open, third-party verifiable and reproducible.
In a world of smart energy grids and distributed, renewable resources, a system that measures efficiency based on monthly metering and calculates results years after the fact simply won’t cut it. To take its place as a true DER and meet the needs of Grid 2.0, efficiency will have to deliver savings at the times and places where it really matters.
From smart thermostat makers to demand-response app developers to home zero-down home performance financiers, businesses are coming up with more and more innovative ways to drive efficiency investments and deliver energy savings.
What these companies need is a more streamlined access to markets that can value the benefit they’re creating along with the new revenue streams and larger demand that comes from a pay-for-performance, procurement-centered market.
With access to open measurement tools, these companies will be able to use data to make deploying and managing their businesses more efficient.
And by focusing on procuring measurable, verifiable savings at the meter and paying for actual performance, utilities and program managers can stop worrying about what measures will work, and allow the market to come up with efficiency innovations that none of us have even thought of yet.
The OpenEEmeter is an open source software platform for calculating energy efficiency. Using the meter, private companies, utilities, and regulators can all calculate the same level of savings for a given set of building efficiency projects.
The meter’s core stack is 100% open source licensed, meaning that anyone can download the code, inspect it and modify it.
Being open source makes third-party verification of methods easy, which in turn helps to validate results and ensure that all parties are working under the same set of assumptions. It also prevents vendor lock-in.
At the same time, anyone is free to build proprietary tools on top of the code.