Pipeline development

Pro-active pipeline development is key for a successful implementation of energy efficiency financing loan schemes. The activities presented below are regularly recommended to banks participating in the PF4EE instrument, and are often implemented with support of the PF4EE Expert Support Facility. The listed activities aim to increase the uptake of loans and to facilitate energy efficiency lending.

Internal capacity building
Workshops and training for bank staff
Issue

Energy efficiency lending is special in several ways: Project proposals must be evaluated in view of their energy savings potential; clients and project related contracts can be quite specific to the energy efficiency market; and, in cases where publicly funded instruments such as PF4EE are involved, certain eligibility criteria must be met. All this requires special knowledge and capacities on the side of bank staff from different departments.

Solution

Thematic workshops and trainings on the topic of energy efficiency financing can be offered to bank staff from various departments. Ideally, such workshops should be developed and implemented in collaboration between responsible bank staff and internal or external technical experts with an expertise in the local energy efficiency market.

PF4EE experience

In relation to the PF4EE instrument, such workshops are regularly implemented through the Expert Support Facility, which consists of national as well as international consultants. The specific workshop agenda and focus topics are developed in close collaboration with PF4EE partner banks to ensure that the partner bank’s energy efficiency financing background and strategy is taken into account.

E-Learning
Issue

In-person workshops and trainings to build capacities for energy efficiency financing are only feasible if the target group is rather small and attributes significant priority (and thus time) to become educated in energy efficiency financing. Capacity building activities should however also address wider groups of staff for which energy efficiency financing is not a key priority. For example, officers in banks’ branch network play a key role in energy efficiency pipeline development. Yet, they typically deal with a large number of different financing products and thus do not have the time to obtain in-depth training on energy efficiency financing.

Solution

E-learning can be an effective means to educate bank staff such as branch officers on the basic concepts of energy efficiency financing, loan pipeline development, or specific lending criteria. E-learning can also be used as an engaging way to remind a branch network of the banks’ energy efficiency lending priorities and the branch officers’ important role there-in.

PF4EE experience

The PF4EE Expert Support Facility has supported some partner banks in the development of dedicated e-learning modules for their branch network. Experience shows that such e-learning modules often need to be highly customised to the banks’ internal processes, and hence can be developed by banks themselves in the most effective manner.

Internal helpdesk and FAQ documents
Issue

Energy efficiency financing goes along with detailed technical project documentation, specific contractual constructs, and numerous technical terms and concepts that are often unfamiliar to bank staff. Bank staff engaged in client contact and project appraisal thus requires day-to-day support with specific questions in order to build confidence in energy efficiency financing and loan pipeline development.

Solution

Questions that occur on a regular basis and that can be addressed in a general manner can be covered through Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) documents. Such FAQ documents can target banks staff and clients alike. To assist bank staff with very specific questions on individual projects, an internal helpdesk for energy efficiency loan products should be established. Ideally, such a helpdesk consists of staff with a technical background in energy efficiency or with previous experience in the energy efficiency market. If such internal technical staff capacities are not available, external energy professionals should be engaged.

PF4EE experience

In relation to the PF4EE instrument, the Expert Support Facility supports partner banks to develop FAQ documents and internal helpdesks. This involves training of bank staff that constitutes the internal helpdesk, as well as ad-hoc support to the bank’s helpdesk team regarding complex questions.

Portfolio screening
Issue

Banks may finance energy efficiency projects without recognising them as such. For example, building refurbishment and industrial modernisation projects regularly go along with energy savings, but are often not tagged by banks as green investments due to a lack of awareness. This results in missed opportunities regarding the identification of a bank’s green lending portfolio and regarding bank staff’s on-the-job training with respect to the identification and appraisal of energy efficiency projects.

Solution

Through screening of a bank’s loan portfolio, investments that were previously financed but remained under the radar and were not perceived as energy efficiency projects can be identified ex-post. Thus, awareness among bank staff regarding the energy efficiency potential in their existing loan and client portfolio can be raised. Following such an exercise, involved bank staff has better insights which projects should be targeted for energy efficiency financing and can potentially be considered for financing through dedicated instruments such as PF4EE. Such an activity should involve technical experts which can relate specific project characteristics and technologies to energy efficiency.

PF4EE experience

Portfolio screening is an activity that is regularly offered to PF4EE partner banks and has been implemented through the Expert Support Facility in the past. Experience shows that such an activity is not only useful to raise partner banks’ awareness of the energy efficiency potential in their existing portfolio, but also facilitates an improved understanding of PF4EE lending criteria.

Identification of clients
Identification of target sectors and clients
Issue

Building an energy efficiency loan pipeline requires insights into sectors and client types that should be targeted. Financial intermediaries may however not know the energy efficiency investment needs and potentials in their country in sufficient detail to identify such targets. Further, they may be unaware of the characteristics that make a client “high potential”, or of the sources that provide insights in such characteristics.

Solution

With the support of internal staff that has a background in the energy efficiency market or through the support of local external consultants, the most relevant sectors and high potential clients can be identified. Identified target sectors may vary across different regions, and may depend on the energy efficiency technologies / investment types that a bank intends to finance. The identification of high potential clients can go hand in hand with portfolio screening activities and trainings, both as lined out before. During trainings, staff can learn about client characteristics that may indicate high potential for energy efficiency (e.g. clients with a high share in energy costs, clients that are obliged to conduct an energy audit, clients with old industrial buildings and facilities etc.). Internal or external staff can also infer potential target clients from publicly available sources, e.g. lists of company types that are legally obliged to conduct an energy audit (and hence may already know their energy savings potential) or European initiatives such as the ENERFUND tool, which rates and scores deep building renovation opportunities across Europe (http://enerfund.eu/).

PF4EE experience

PF4EE partner banks already have an initial idea of their energy efficiency target sectors when they join the PF4EE instrument. However, identified targets may need to be specified in more detail or be aligned with market needs over the course of PF4EE implementation. The PF4EE Expert Support Facility, in particular its local consultants network, regularly supports partner banks in such activities. In addition to the identification of target sectors, ESF consultants also support the partner banks through material that can be used to approach specific sub-sector groups (e.g. best practice EE project examples), or during meetings that may be held with representatives from these sectors. The ESF’s local consultants also provide their expertise and market overview with respect to sources that can be used to identify clients with particular potential to invest in energy efficiency.

Approaching third-party EE-market agents
Issue

Energy efficiency loans rarely just “fly off the shelves”. Rather, financial intermediaries offering such financing products must target the energy efficiency market with dedicated activities, offers, and communication. This also involves a need to approach specific third-party stakeholders in the energy efficiency market, i.e. those agents which can act as multipliers and raise awareness on energy efficiency investment potentials and available financing.

Solution

To approach such third-party stakeholders, financial intermediaries may require support regarding the identification of relevant agents and in approaching them. External energy consultants can provide such support, for example through specific overviews on stakeholders and institutions in the local energy efficiency market. Such overviews can inform about relevant business associations in the bank’s target sectors, energy professionals and energy auditors in the country, or energy efficiency project developers and technology suppliers. It may also be useful to involve internal or external technical experts in meetings and communication with such stakeholders in order to bridge the gap that often exists between the technical and financial worlds of energy efficiency.

PF4EE experience

Local consultants from the Expert Support Facility network regularly assist PF4EE partner banks in their outreach activities to the national energy efficiency market. Examples include the provision of detailed lists of energy auditors in the respective country which can be used to market PF4EE among these companies, as well as extended market overviews of relevant market players and associations from a variety of energy efficiency market sub-sectors. PF4EE ESF consultants can also be intensely involved in approaching such market players if the partner bank approves such involvement.

Identification of existing grant schemes
Issue

Energy efficiency grant schemes that already exist in a country may impede or foster energy efficiency loan pipeline development through financial intermediaries. On the one hand, such grant schemes may constitute competition to the debt financing possibilities offered through banks. On the other hand, some clients may want to obtain an energy efficiency loan to finance expenditure not already covered through the grant.

Solution

Bank staff needs to be well informed about existing and upcoming grant schemes, in particular regarding target investments and beneficiaries, possible grant amounts, and eligibility criteria. With a view to grant schemes that may constitute competition to the bank’s energy efficiency financing offers, banks should aim to identify niches not already covered by larger grant schemes. With a view to grant schemes that can complement energy efficiency lending, banks should ensure that their staff is well informed and can advise their clients regarding such possibilities of combination. It is also recommended to evaluate how investments that already obtain a grant should be treated in loan appraisal procedures. Projects that obtain grant financing may have undergone a stringent “eligibility check” already and can thus potentially be treated with higher speed during loan appraisal.

PF4EE experience

Regarding grant schemes, the Expert Support Facility supports PF4EE partner banks through local energy efficiency market experts. These experts have a good overview on existing as well as upcoming grant schemes, and can support banks to identify the key characteristics of such schemes. They can also support partner banks in their engagement with local authorities that are in charge of administering relevant grant schemes.

Acquisition of clients
Showcases of financed energy efficiency projects
Issue

Awareness on energy savings potential is often limited among agents who could qualify as potential borrowers of energy efficiency loans. Though there are many initiatives that aim to showcase the savings potential of energy efficiency measures to individuals, companies, or public entities across Europe, banks also have an important role to play in raising this awareness.

Solution

Banks can produce showcases of energy efficiency projects that have been financed through them. Such showcases should tell the story of the borrower and the facility in which the measures were implemented, ideally present details on the realised energy/cost/CO2 savings, and give an overview on the specific technologies and investment costs. Both videos and illustrative texts can be useful in this regard. These showcases can then be presented in the banks marketing material, be used by bank staff when talking to potential clients, and serve as an effective add-on during presentations at networking events.

PF4EE experience

The PF4EE Expert Support Facility has produced a number of 1-page showcase documents in collaboration with PF4EE partner banks. These showcases present projects that were co-financed by PF4EE and are useful to give final beneficiaries as well as bank staff an idea of potential projects. Some PF4EE partner banks have also produced such showcases and respective videos without ESF support.

Best practice examples
Issue

When banks are still at the beginning of their energy efficiency lending activities, they may not have showcases of financed energy efficiency projects available. Thus, for bank staff as well as potential clients, it may be difficult to obtain an idea on projects that can be financed, and on the energy savings potential of such projects.

Solution

Best practice examples relating to specific energy efficiency technologies and projects should be prepared in such cases, if needed with the support of external experts. External energy efficiency experts typically have a good overview on such example projects. These examples can, for example, be prepared in the form of flyers, and can serve both as marketing material towards clients and as information source for bank staff.

PF4EE experience

The PF4EE Expert Support Facility has developed the brochure “Energy Efficiency Projects in Europe”, which collects examples of good practice energy efficiency projects across Europe. For each example information on estimated energy and cost savings is included. The brochure can be used as a source of inspiration, by bankers as well as their clients.

Energy efficiency measures guide
Issue

Bank staff without a technical background typically has a limited overview on technologies that are related to energy efficiency. Further, even if such an overview is available, knowledge on the advantages of and mechanics behind such technologies is often absent. However, some basic understanding of energy efficiency measures is useful when talking to potential clients and when appraising specific loan requests.

Solution

Bank staff should have access to informational material which overviews typical energy efficiency measures and provides basic technical background information. Such material should be developed in accessible language and describe each technology in a concise manner.

PF4EE experience

The PF4EE Expert Support Facility has developed the “Energy Efficiency Manual” which informs about energy efficiency measures that are generally eligible for PF4EE financing. The manual briefly describes these measures and highlights factors that should be kept in mind when considering financing through the PF4EE instrument. The manual is targeted to staff at PF4EE partner banks as well as their potential clients. Partner banks can draw on the content of the manual when developing their own material.

PF4EE online tool
Issue

To foster the development of energy efficiency loan pipelines on a broad scale, a high degree of standardisation in pipeline development and loan appraisal is required. This is particularly true where investment volumes are small and the involvement of internal and external experts is thus difficult to justify. Sales staff typically constitutes the first point of contact for potential customers and therefore plays a crucial role for the development of such high granularity / low complexity pipelines. Enabling this group of staff to raise awareness for energy efficiency, to market dedicated financial products, and to appraise specific financing requests in a smooth manner is therefore key.

Solution

Web-based solutions are ideal to ease the appraisal of standard energy efficiency projects with smaller investment volumes through banks’ sales staff, and to raise awareness for the energy savings potential of typical measures among clients.

PF4EE experience

Under PF4EE, two online tools have been developed by the Expert Support Facility: The PF4EE Web-Check Tool and the Energy Efficiency Quick Estimator (EEQuest). These tools aim to support financial intermediaries in marketing dedicated energy efficiency financing, raise awareness for the energy savings potential in different sectors, and facilitate on-lending for energy efficiency. Based on limited user input, the tools provide a rough estimate on energy, cost, and CO2 savings that can result from measures in buildings and industry. Users such as bank sales staff, companies, and individuals can access the tools free of charge and without registration, and can draw on them to obtain savings estimates for their energy efficiency projects. Estimation results can also be downloaded as a PDF summary, which can support application and documentation for financing. The PF4EE Web-Check tool is customised to specific partner banks to an extent and enables users to pre-check eligibility for PF4EE financing.

Targeted advertisements and news articles
Issue

Energy efficiency market participants, and hence potential borrowers and multipliers, can best be targeted through their own channels of communication and marketing. Banks implementing energy efficiency loan schemes, however, may not be aware of the key publications, journals, and web-pages in the energy efficiency market. Further, bank staff may not have the technical knowledge to write articles that are targeted to a very technical audience.

Solution

In absence of internal technical staff, external consultants can support banks in the identification of relevant communication channels and in articles that speak to a specific technical audience.

PF4EE experience

The PF4EE Expert Support Facility has provided such services to partner banks in the past. These services included the development of a list on relevant publications in the field of energy efficiency and the preparation of articles on the subject. On this basis, the partner banks were able to place targeted advertisements and articles in specialised or regional journals as well as on websites in the field of energy efficiency.

Flyers advertising energy efficiency
Issue

Bank clients are often not aware of the multiple benefits of energy efficiency, which include energy cost savings and hence improved cash flows, but also co-benefits such as independence from scarce resources or an improved atmosphere in buildings. Such co-benefits are often considered key drivers for energy efficiency investment decisions.

Solution

The multiple benefits of energy efficiency can be communicated to clients through bank staff, for example in the form of flyers which advertise the financing possibilities at the same time. Any such material should be customised to the specific target group, for example the buildings sector vs. the industrial sector.

PF4EE experience

PF4EE partner banks typically develop their marketing material according to their internal standards. However, the Expert Support Facility regularly provides input to such material, for example in the form of flyer content, technology lists, or best practice project examples.

Networking and marketing events with the EE market
Issue

It is often said that one reason for the slow uptake of energy efficiency loan products is the apparent gap between the technical and financial sides of energy efficiency investing. Agents from both sides often do not encounter each other unless a specific financing request is concerned. This induces missed opportunities for energy efficiency loan pipeline development, since the key target group, i.e. the energy efficiency market itself, may be unaware of attractive financing possibilities and of the project documentation required to obtain an energy efficiency loan.

Solution

Banks that want to approach energy efficiency as a dedicated financing segment need to connect to the market in a very pro-active manner. Regular presentations and participation in industry events, e.g. organised by relevant business associations, ESCO forums, or from the technology supplier side, should be one of the core pillars of such activities. Banks should also consider the organisation of own events, bringing the market together and strengthening the bank’s visibility as a committed green lending institution.

PF4EE experience

The PF4EE Expert Support Facility offers several services to PF4EE partner banks in this respect: Local ESF experts provide overviews on relevant events in the national energy efficiency market as well as lists regarding target groups for own events; the ESF offers support regarding the preparation of presentation material that speaks to the audience; and the ESF can also participate in such events and provide technical input.