Voluntary agreements - a measure for energy-efficiency in industry? Lessons from a Swedish programme
Summary, in English
Voluntary agreements represent a policy instrument for applying new knowledge, routines or technology to specified issues. The traditional role of an authority when using information, and taking economic, or administrative measures is that of an initiator and controller. Voluntary agreements, on the other hand, represent a communication process between an authority and a partner where relations of dependency and mutuality are more important in advancing the programme. This article analyses and discusses the motivational aspects of voluntary agreements, the role of the contract, advising, information, education, time planning and the importance of reporting and evaluation in energy-efficiency programmes. Besides sociological and communication theories, the discussion is based on the outcome of an evaluation of a Swedish energy-efficiency programme. Among the conclusions are that communication processes have to be planned and implemented in time sequences and steps of measures, which was partially neglected in the Swedish programme. Also, agreements between partners have to be defined in ways valid for all partners. In the Swedish programme, quantitative goals, at least measured in kWh, were impossible to achieve for some industries. On the other hand, most industries reported progress in side effects of energy efficiency as for example transportation policy for products, recirculation of waste material, lighting policy and behaviour, qualifications for ISO labelling. Information in combination with voluntary agreements can be efficient for industrial energy conservation. The education and auditing that was part of the Swedish programme were highly appreciated and added to the achievements.