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F-Cell 2015: ‘F’ is for Finance

iStock 000032038932 LargeIn part 1 of his Blog Series, Principal Analyst Scott Dwyer outlines some of the questions around whether better access to low cost finance for customers can help new energy efficient technologies into the market. 

I just returned from speaking at F-Cell 2015 in Stuttgart (part of WES 2015), where one of the hot topics was ‘finance’.

And it wasn’t just financing for stationary fuel cell that was being discussed. It was also a hot topic on the adjoining battery storage event.

Some of the questions being asked were strikingly similar from both groups: How and where could finance be accessed by potential customers? What were the barriers? How could you communicate with the finance community and other actors? Where had finance been successful before with energy efficiency technology? And if not, why not?

With mechanisms where inexpensive finance can be accessed, could this help support the market introduction of innovative, low carbon technologies (like stationary fuel cell or batteries)? Perhaps ‘finance’ could help new innovative business models get off the ground and create attractive, value for money customer offerings. Could it help communities afford district scale systems that they can share and pool the benefits and costs over time?

And what could the wider benefits be for all of this? The benefits of decarbonising heat and increasing the number of distributed energy systems have been well documented. Could ‘finance’ be a key to unlocking these benefits?

In Germany, low interest loans for home energy refurbishment are widely available but this hasn’t led to the market for these technologies really exploding. The UK’s Green Deal was essentially a finance initiative for building energy efficiency improvements but that performed far below expectations and was eventually scrapped.

But until we really understand all the questions around finance and the role it has to play in distributed energy and low carbon heat, we aren’t going to find the answer.

In Part 2, Scott will address some of the questions raised in this blog. To read about previous research Delta-ee has undertaken with customers in the UK on finance, click here.

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