Professional Development in the Energy Industry – Education v/s Training
As the European Energy Efficiency fades into the background of the raft of national and European energy legislation that we as energy professionals need to deal with, the main focus of the energy industry appears to have been focussed on a small number of the areas addressed by the directive, obligation schemes for suppliers (Article 7), Energy Audits and Energy Management Systems (Article 8); Promotion of ESCo’s (Article 18), and Demonstrating the exemplar role of the public sector (Article 5) being the ones that immediately spring to mind. In the background there is also additional work behind the scenes laying the groundwork for other areas addressed in the directive such as improvement in building regulations – to improve the energy efficiency of buildings but one area of the directive appears to have been largely left to one side – Article 16.
Article 16 of the directive is part of what is called the Horizontal Provisions, generally seen as attempting to ensure that across the European Union we take a consistent approach to implementation of European requirements – thereby supporting the principle of free movement of goods and services. This part of the directive deals with the availability of qualifications, accreditation and certification schemes for the energy sector at a national level – to ensure the technical competence, objectivity and reliability within the sector is delivered and maintained.
My belief is that this in an area that Ireland can further lead the way in Europe through promotion of competence and recognition of competence as opposed to minimum standards. The ISO 17024 accreditation approach provides a clear mechanism where we can push towards this aim.
Watching closely the effects of various schemes that have been used to implement the various schemes used throughout Europe to implement the various requirements of European requirements it was clearly seen that where a compliance based approach has been implemented – for example taking the energy audit scheme in Ireland and ESOS in the UK, where organisations have been required to undertake energy audits – to meet a compliance requirement laid down by the directive – it was easily seen that the direct result was a quick fall in the standards delivered of energy services delivered. This appears to have effectively come about because organisations did not particularly want to spend money on getting energy audits completed – for the sake of it – and therefore focussed on how these could be done for the cheapest possible cost.
Following this where individuals are seen to be able to “meet the requirements” of delivering an audit for €X, then why would the organisation pay €2X to get the audit completed – to meet the requirements.
This in my opinion leads to the requirements to focus on competence and ability to deliver as opposed to minimum standards in the energy area. One of the key focus points that Ireland needs to focus upon is the binding European 2020 targets.
We have seen where Ireland is making progress towards its binding targets – but no guarantee that we will get there – and we have already, where possible taken credit for measures previously taken that were allowable to feed towards these targets so the remainder of the targets need to come from “new delivery of savings”
The minimum requirements that have been seen to have been delivered across some sectors where audits have not really delivered any meaningful potential improvements that are cost viable for business and does not do the energy sector any justice, nor assist in delivery of meaningful progress towards our energy savings targets.
My belief is that in Ireland we need to look carefully at delivery of quality energy services rather than quantity, and to look closely at how we can ensure that we move away from minimum standards. If we look across other professions such as accountancy, the legal sector, medical sector etc – none of which are ideal – BUT in every case there is a mechanism for instigating a “fitness to practice” review and persons that are not fit to practice are not allowed to practice – at least not as sole entities.
I believe that Ireland should take a lead in this area for Europe and move towards competency driven energy services
About Ian Boylan
Ian is Director of Target Energy, a small Irish based energy consultancy company with a global outreach providing its clients with independent energy advice based on sound engineering principles, coupled with experience and integrity.
Target Energy’s focus is based on the best principles of energy management, making best use of existing systems first, improving efficiency of operational use and essentially looking at the low cost energy reduction options.
Ian is one of Ireland’s energy sector that can clearly be seen to be recognised internationally. He has delivered services to clients across Ireland, UK, Spain, Italy, USA, Canada, Ukraine, New Zealand, Armenia and other countries.
Ian is a leading member of the Association of Energy Engineers, a Global organisation with members in 91 countries worldwide. He delivers certified professional training on their behalf in Western Europe, he chairs the AEE International Certification Board and is the incoming president for 2017, only the second time in the fourty year history of AEE that a non-USA based individual has been elected as the organisations president, and the first European. Currently AEE President elect, he was previously secretary of AEE in 2015.
Additionally Ian is a leading expert in the international Energy Management Standard ISO50001 and has worked and spoken internationally on this topic.
- E (Electrical Engineering) – University College Cork
- Eng.Sc (Sustainable Energy) – University College Cork
- Chartered Engineer – Engineers Ireland
- Certified Energy Manager AEE
- Certified Energy Auditor – AEE
- Certified Measurement & Verification Professional – AEE
- Certified Water Efficiency Professional AEE
- Certified Building Commissioning Professional – AEE