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Between 2007 and 2013 Curve Breaker Agreements (CBAs) set binding targets for reducing electricity consumption to voluntary signatories. The targets typically ranged between three and 15 per cent of demand reduction over a period of three to five years. Thereby, the agreements and the programme overall aimed at breaking the rising curve of electricity consumption that had still prevailed in Denmark at the setup of the programme in 2007. Target groups were not only municipalities, regions, ministries and agencies but also non-governmental actors. The defined targets were negotiated with CBA coaches who worked at the Danish Saving Trust (DEST). These coaches offered proposals for tailor-made electricity saving solutions to each participant. The participants were obliged to publish a) their energy consumption on a special website in order to ensure compliance and b) how reductions had been achieved, which promoted a mutual learning process between CBA signatories. DEST, on the other hand, offered various tools to promote electricity demand reductions (e.g. training courses, behavioural campaign materials, energy efficient procurement guidelines and tools). DEST’s work was financed by an extra charge of 0.06 Eurocent/kWh on the electricity bills of private households and public institutions. Therefore the CBA participation was completely free of charge. By also embracing non-governmental actors, DEST maximised its efforts.
By 2010, 177 curve breaker agreements were concluded. By 2011, signatories achieved an average 7.5 % of electricity demand reductions.
In 1999 the Danish Energy Saving Trust (DEST) started promoting energy-efficient procurement and established a programme called the A-Club, aiming to reduce the rising electricity consumption of public institutions, which was growing by about 1% annually. The goal was to promote energy-efficient A-labelled products and to transform the market. The participants signed an agreement stipulating that they must purchase energy-efficient products when available. The Curve Breaker Agreement (CBA), which was established in 2007, replaced the A-Club and was even more successful in saving electricity.
In order to continue the process to push the market towards energy-efficient appliances DEST made several tools available to the participants of this Curve Breaker Agreement. The programme was primary introduced to reduce the electricity consumption of the public sector, but also non-governmental actors could participate.
Before an Agreement could be signed, the institution interested in increasing its energy efficiency needed to co-operate with a special contact person at the DEST. Together the institution and this coach identified energy saving potentials and they, moreover, came to terms on the amount of electric energy that was to be saved within a particular period of time (e.g. 15% of electricity saved between 2009 and 2011). Both, amount of energy saved and time, became contractual after a CBA had been signed by DEST and the participant. Regular meetings between consultants and participants safeguarded tailor-made support and surveillance over constant energy reduction efforts. All members were required to make their energy consumption transparent through the website ‘Se Elforbrug’ (Engl.: view electricity consumption, ) in order a) to self-check their consumption and b) to make information available to the public. Transparency might have increased public pressure on the participant in case of non-compliance. Secondly, participants had to publish how savings have been achieved so that other CBA members can easily adopt ideas and practices. The DEST, on the contrary, offered “coaching (i.e. via special training courses), behavioural campaign material and a special energy saving promotional suitcase” and ensured “that efforts […] are profiled in the media” (DEST 2008). As the DEST also regularly published energy efficient purchasing guidelines, it had the knowledge capacities to consult CBA participants comprehensively in the field of public procurement. A chronological order of the CBA process is shown in the figure below.
The mandatory EU Energy Label and the voluntary Energy Star label could be used to identify adequate office equipment. Even more conveniently were appliance and equipment lists, showing energy efficient products. Public institutions in Denmark were also eligible to benefit from temporary public subsidy schemes for energy-efficient appliances and systems. This was because such incentives were made available by the DEST, which was financed through an extra charge of 0.06 Eurocents/kWh on electricity bills of private households and public institutions, as well as Danish energy companies.
By 2010, 177 CBAs were concluded. Some were committed to save up to 30% between 2008 and 2012. Some partner institutions were also located outside of Danish borders such as the Danish Embassy in Athens, Greece or Cairo, Egypt. Some foreign embassies in Denmark also participated (for a complete list of signatories, see DEST 2010).
|Efforts targeted at:||Total Consumption in GWh:||Share of CBA Institutions of the total consumption:|
Source: Jarby et al. 2009, p. 11
In Finland, two types of agreements exist for municipalities. Medium-sized and large ones use the KETS agreement while small municipalities (<5,000 inhabitants or <5,000 MWh/year) may use the separate KEO programme. Such voluntary agreements are to “achieve energy savings by 2016 amounting to 9% of earlier annual energy use” (Motiva 2010).
In 1994, Denmark’s total gross electricity production had been at 144,708 TJ. Almost twenty years later this was reduced by 3.5% to 139,613 TJ. While the energy consumption of the public service was managed to remain constant between 1993 (25,909 TJ) and 2010 (26,053 TJ), figures increased for the private service sector from 30,340 TJ to 40,436 TJ. Rising electricity use affected both sectors negatively rising in the same period from 8,882 TJ to 9,247 TJ in the public service sector and, more dramatically, from 12,769 TJ to 17,071 TJ in the private service sector (DEA 2010).
Jarby et al. (2009, 846) traced this back to “increasing amounts of electrical equipment, including IT and office equipment, lighting, and ventilation and cooling equipment” having been purchased and used within both sectors.
Denmark had already introduced public sector programmes to increase the energy efficiency of appliances. A programme called A-Club had been implemented in 1999 to realise energy savings via voluntary procurement agreements for public purchasers and private investors. They had entered a four-year agreement with the DEST and had agreed to buy only products that meet high energy-efficiency criteria. The CBA replaced the A-Club in 2007, with the aim to reverse the then prevailing trend of rising electricity consumption – to break this rising curve.
The trend of rising electricity consumption was to be countered by various CBA measures which were free of charge for participating organisations. Basically, the CBA tool kit, including coaching, purchasing guidelines, training, etc., aimed at increasing the energy-related knowledge in such organisations. Rather indirectly, CBAs also increase the demand for energy-efficient electronic equipment.
It is a national policy.
Organisations from the public, industrial and commercial sector with an annual energy consumption above 1 GWh were allowed to participate (DEST 2011).
Lighting, PCs, server centres and other electronic office equipment, and ventilation were identified as priority areas (DEST 2010a). Circulation and other pumps, large residential appliances, and consumer electronics such as TVs were also covered (Jarby et al. 2009).
Together with the DEST’s coaches and with in-house staff, advisers, suppliers, and other specialists, the CBA participants needed to identify areas in which they could improve their energy performance. For example, the purchase of new IT equipment was one option to achieve valuable energy savings. Renovation or additional controls on lighting, ventilation or pumps could have been another way to decrease energy consumption. However, behavioural changes like switching a device completely off instead of using the standby mode were additionally used as a measures to improve energy efficiency – especially in larger offices.
Curve Breaker Agreements set binding electricity saving targets and provided training courses to the participants. With these measures the energy consumption of appliances and systems could also be reduced significantly.
According to the purchasing guidelines published by the DEST, CBA-energy-consuming products belonged to the top 20-25% of their product category (DEST 2009, 5).
CBA participants benefited directly as measures offered under the CBA were free of charge. Moreover, organisations also benefited financially as measures recommended by DEST staff must be cost effective. Additionally, by signing a CBA, an organisation’s reputation was likely to be enhanced.
At the other end of the spectrum, the public benefited due to enhanced transparency because, as stated earlier, CBA-parties must have publicised their electricity consumption.
In general, public institutions had already been committed to energy-efficient purchasing and to making their energy consumption visible to the public because of regulation that is set out by the Danish government. Thus, CBAs helped to achieve these goals but added the absolute electricity savings target (Jarby et al. 2009, 848).
The mandatory EU energy label and the voluntary Energy Star label were helpful to immediately identify energy-efficient technologies (see our good practice policy files on these two labels).
From time to time, DEST launched subsidy campaigns for electronic equipment. For example in 2004, the DEST subsidised the purchase of A+ and A++ labelled refrigerators, freezers and their combinations. Purchases were subsidised with around €67 (or DKK500) (and €133 on dryers) and governmental institutions were eligible for funding, as well (Harris 2005, 890). Together, both measures, the subsidy campaigns and CBAs, worked as complements.
With regard to energy savings in lighting, ventilation or other building-installed systems, public institutions could also benefit from the advice offered by or with financial support from the Danish energy companies (see good practice policy file on the Danish energy saving obligations of energy companies). Increasingly, these companies also offered financial incentives for investment to implement solutions identified through the advice.
CBAs included innovative elements.
The most innovative elements were the targets for absolute reduction in electricity consumption.
Agreements also demanded that electricity consumption of every CBA participant was made public on the internet on Se Elforbrug’ (engl.: View electricity consumption).
Moreover, mutual learning was facilitated as participants were “required to be open about how the organisation reduces its electricity consumption” (Jarby et al. 2009, 848) and signatories were also encouraged to propose additional tools that may help them achieve their targets, to the DEST .
A competition including an award for every CBA participant could have incentivised the authority or the facility management staff to really achieve its goals or to even target more ambitious goals.
An awareness raising campaign for employees of public institutions (similar to the Mission E in Germany) could have had a complementary energy-saving effect by changing the energy-consuming behaviour of the staff of public authorities.
The policy package could have been improved.
For example, it should have become a requirement for every public actor to publish energy consumption data on the “Se Elforbrug” platform, or to have an independent energy audit once a year publishing audit reports – including energy efficiency recommendations – online.
The following pre-conditions were necessary to implement Curve Breaker Agreement
Agencies or other actors responsible for implementation
The Danish Energy Saving Trust, formerly known as Danish Electricity Saving Trust until 2010, is a strong institutional and independent actor. Established in 1997 it was been working to promote energy efficiency in households as well as in the public and private sector. Since then it has gained expertise in energy-efficient appliances and is responsible for providing information on energy efficiency, for concluding voluntary agreements with public and private organisations to promote energy savings and for the procurement of low-energy consuming technology. The fact that it is financed by an extra levy (0.06 Eurocent/kWh) on electricity bills of households and public institutions guarantees its independence. Its board is appointed by the Danish Ministry of Climate and Energy (DEST 2012).
The extra levy of 0.06 Eurocent/kWh on electricity bills that funding the DEST also ensured the funding of CBA staff and activities such as training courses etc.
Test procedures for measuring energy efficiency were a very relevant basis for the Danish purchasing guide for energy-efficient appliances and equipment. Indirectly, they were thus also important to the CBAs.
The implementation process of CBAs was straightforward. If organisations were interested in participation they could call a service number. A CBA coach approached the organisation conveying energy efficiency information in general and identifying problem areas (e.g. the use inefficient IT equipment) of that particular organisation.
Subsequently, the electricity saving target (in %), which had to be achieved within a given period of time, was laid down in a CBA, signed ideally by senior management (e.g. the mayor of a municipality).
After that, the organisation had to register at “View Electricity Consumption” while also preparing an action plan. Measures had to be carried out as stipulated in the plan. Contact with the coach was required every three months. Every year, the participant had to state whether goals were still achievable.
The programme was very successful in attracting signatories: the participants of the Curve Breaker Agreement increased constantly. The next figure illustrates the development of the programme.
The programme as such did not have any specific targets. Rather, it was necessary to demonstrate good progress regarding the number of agreements and by showing successes in energy savings.
In 2009, the DEST and the Malaysian government began to co-operate in order to implement the CBA programme in the Southeast Asian country (DEST 2009a).
Actors responsible for design
The Danish Electricity Saving Trust (Energy Agency) was responsible for the design of the policy
Actors responsible for implementation
The Danish Electricity Saving Trust (Energy Agency) was responsible for the implementation of the policy.
The website Se-Elforbrug ( ) lists all organisations that signed a CBA. It states floor area (in m2), annual electricity consumption in kWh, kWh/person and kWh/m2 of every participating body. More detailed information can also be accessed (please refer to the website).
No formal evaluation has been made available. However, the monitoring of the electricity consumption of all participants easily allows calculation of overall and average results. There seems to be no evaluation of economic benefits and costs.
The following barriers have been experienced during the implementation of the policy
Some municipalities were reluctant to sign CBAs as DEST’s focus shifted from public institutions towards SMEs.
Concrete figures in energy savings/year
Each CBA participant worked out different targets during different timeframes. Targets typically ranged between three and 15 per cent of demand reduction over a period of three to five years but the range also extended more widely. For example, there are actors that aimed at a 30% reduction between 2009 and 2012 (GE Money Bank; commercial sector) while others bound themselves only to a 1% reduction from 2007 to 2008 (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark; public sector).
Expected additional, yearly energy savings in kWh/year
Individual agreements of 177 institutions and their respective target values / commitments can be accessed via DEST 2010. The average amount of savings was around 6.5%.
Concrete figures in energy savings/year
An overall average reduction in electricity consumption of 7.5% was monitored by 2011 for CBA signatories. For example, from 2007 to 2008, CBA participants reduced their electricity consumption by 2 %, while consumption for all other public institutions grew by 0.3 % (Jarby et al. 2009).
Potential electricity savings in the Danish public sector were estimated to be 23% over a repayment horizon of up to 4 years, and 27% over a repayment period of up to six years (Jarby et al. 2009). Taking this as a reference, the CBAs have already achieved around 30 % of the potential (i.e., 7.5 % out of 23 to 27%) for their signatories after only four years.
There is no concrete information about the financial resources DEST contributed to the CBA programme. The total budget of DEST for all of its programmes and campaigns used to be €12 million per year (Jarby et al. 2009).
The costs for the implementation of tailor-made solutions (investment in energy-efficient technology and building energy management) formulated with the assistance of the DEST, varied depending on the size, experience and level of ambition of the respective partner organisation.
Based on DEST data, collective energy-efficient purchasing of only public sector organisations, which was a core element of CBAs, would add up to 95 million Euro of annual electricity cost savings (Jarby et al. 2009, 849). If all public sector actors had signed a CBA, Denmark would have been able to generate enormous investments in other areas (e.g. education, social security institutions).
The tailor-made solutions (investment in energy-efficient technology and building energy management) formulated with the assistance of the DEST and implemented by the CBA signatories would have normally been cost-effective. The programme as such can therefore be expected to be cost-effective as well, since the DEST’s programme costs are quite small.
An example of a Curve Breaker Agreement in English is available at:
A Danish version can be accessed via: