Interview with Jacqueline Jakob, Managing Director of the Energy Agency for Industry (EnAW)
The Energy Agency for Industry (EnAW) supports companies in the identification and assessment of energy efficiency potential, the development of individual measures, target agreements with the federal government, reporting and, finally, the achievement of the defined targets. By the end of 2019, more than 4000 companies, which account for about 50 percent of theCO2 emissions of Swiss industrial and service companies, had signed 2405 target agreements with EnAW. UBS supports its corporate clients in the EnAW energy check-up and in the implementation of measures that help to increase energy efficiency and thus reduce operating costs.
Business Sustainability Today:Ms Jakob, how do you think Switzerland can implement the Energy Strategy 2050 and become climate neutral by that date?
Jacqueline Jakob:Climate neutrality by 2050 is an enormous challenge for society as a whole. It is therefore important to make everyone aware of this issue, and SMEs can also make a contribution. The sooner an SME starts to deal with this, the more stable it is positioned for the future and the better it secures its competitiveness.
Business Sustainability Today:Where do companies have the most potential to save energy, and which efficiency measures are most effective?
Jacqueline Jakob:Proven approaches include, above all, efficiency improvements, technical improvements, renovations and operational optimisation. In addition, one should take a look at the products and consider product substitutions if necessary. This is undoubtedly difficult. In the next step we recommend to rely on renewable energies. The best solution is a good mix of renewable, CO2-free and CO2-neutral energies and the right infrastructure. Intensive research is also being carried out in this area. Chemistry professor Greta Patzke, for example, is working on the question of how natural photosynthesis can be reconstructed by technical means and thus produce renewable energy.
Business Sustainability Today:Where is the most energy consumed or lost?
Jacqueline Jakob:In the environment of the EnAW participants, we notice that the greatest potential still exists in process heat. Around 70 percent of fuels in industry are used for process heat. Processes have to be optimised here and made fit for the future. That takes guts.
Business Sustainability Today:Why can SMEs in particular benefit from the EnAW energy check?
Jacqueline Jakob:It is understandable that SMEs focus on their core business and not necessarily on energy consumption. SMEs therefore often do not have an energy officer and need straightforward access to external expertise. The EnAW energy check closes a gap here and has a kind of driving effect: this begins with observation, measurement and evaluation. This in turn subsequently sets various dynamic processes in motion. In addition, companies can learn from each other in EnAW exchange and experience groups, and the EnAW also has a good overview of all the funding programmes offered in this area.
Business Sustainability Today:What advice do you give to SMEs who express concerns, especially about operational and financial challenges?
Ecological measures must always make economic sense.
Jacqueline Jakob:Ecological measures must always make economic sense. For example, the combination of a target agreement and the possibility of reimbursement of the incentive tax has now become a successful model. More and more companies are realising that ecological measures also bring economic benefits. Authorities set the target, but firms are given the leeway needed to implement it. The results of 20 years of EnAW with more than 4000 participants show that this approach has proven its worth in terms of the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of the measures.
Business Sustainability Today:Apart from financial savings: Why is it worth investing in energy efficiency?
Jacqueline Jakob:We often experience that the management reacts somewhat critically at the beginning. However, when the process gets underway and benefits beyond energy emerge – for example, better working environment, product improvements and increased competitiveness – this creates positive momentum and encourages other SMEs to participate. This development is strengthened by the awareness of having already made provisions for rising energy prices and of having the latest and best technologies at their disposal.
Business Sustainability Today:What is your vision for the future, Ms. Jakob?
Jacqueline Jakob:I envision a largely decarbonized economy with renewable energies that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable. And it must be possible to intelligently offset CO2 emissions that cannot be reduced with negative emissions.
Facts & Figures of the EnAW:
© Photo Jacqueline Jakob: EnAW