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In Belgium, the energy issue is managed at both federal and regional level. We talked to Paul Furlan, Walloon Minister for Energy and Climate, to gain a clearer view of the impact of this policy on SMEs.
"To meet our COP21 commitments, we have to do our utmost to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and generate more renewable energy. By 2020, our CO2 emissions have to fall by 15%. So we are aiming high. That has consequences for all sectors, both public and private.”
"Sustainability needs to be high on the agenda for every company. SMEs will have to strive for greater energy efficiency and therefore develop sustainable energy technologies without compromising on competitiveness or comfort. These days the energy bill is still a major cost factor for companies. Businesses that want to make use of smart solutions to reduce their energy footprint have to invest. But eventually, these costs will become opportunities because they optimize companies’ economic models and bring down energy costs."
"First you have to map out your current situation. The ideal starting-point is an energy audit, so that you can draw up a basic state of affairs regarding current circumstances. This audit has to cover the various aspects of the energy bill and put forward an action plan to increase the company’s energy efficiency or facilitate the development of renewable energy sources and cogeneration. Then think about greener transport, LED lighting, insulation, etc. Solutions like this help use less, but you should also take into account ways of planning consumption differently using smart meters, so that supply and demand are better aligned to one another.”
"In Wallonia, the Marshall 4.0 plan includes agreements where companies can have a simplified energy audit carried out. Support and funding systems will be implemented to help these companies with the requisite investments. SMEs can also bring in 'ESCOs' (Energy Service Companies) for this, which will help them with the efforts they make. Besides the conventional investment aids, specific assistance can also be provided.
For instance, an AMURE subsidy is granted in Wallonia to every private company that has an energy audit carried out by an auditor who is recognized according to the specifications. The Walloon Government Economy and Work Directorate, headed by Minister Jean-Claude Marcourt, also allocates companies investment bonuses and exemptions from property tax. So energy investments are feasible and hopefully this will trigger a real revolution. It’s a matter that concerns everyone, which is why we are working so hard on promoting awareness of this issue."
An ESCO, an Energy Service Company, carries out an energy project in your company and pre-finances the investment itself. This investment brings down your energy bill. You then use part of the savings to pay off your new installation. Once payment in full is made, you become the sole owner of the installation and continue to benefit from the energy savings. So you can keep on investing in your core business.
Proximus contributes towards the energy goals of SMEs. Read more on www.proximus.be/groeneoplossingen