4E Technology Collaboration Programme and Annexes Frequently asked questions

What is the 4E Technology Collaboration Programme?

4E is an International Energy Agency (IEA) Technology Collaboration Programme established in 2008 to support governments to formulate effective policies that increase production and trade in efficient electrical end-use equipment. 4E is an abbreviation for ‘Energy Efficient End-use Equipment’.

Globally, appliances and equipment are amongst the largest and most rapidly expanding areas of energy consumption and this poses considerable challenges in terms of economic development, environmental protection and energy security. As the international trade in appliances grows, many of the reputable multilateral organisations (for example the G8, APEC and the IEA) have highlighted exchanging of information and the co-ordination of policies amongst countries as a cost-effective means to further improve policies and maximise energy efficiency.

Fifteen countries have joined together to form 4E as a forum to co-operate on a mixture of technical and policy projects focussed on increasing the efficiency of energy consuming equipment. These countries include: Austria, Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, European Commision, France, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

But 4E is more than a forum for sharing information – it initiates projects designed to meet the policy needs of participants. Participants find that pooling of resources is not only an efficient use of available funds, but results in outcomes that are comprehensive and authoritative.

How to participate in 4E?

4E is an intergovernmental organisation, and membership of 4E is open to governments of all countries, not only IEA or OECD economies. To join 4E, governments sign an agreement to signify that they will abide by the rules established by 4E, and nominate who will be their representative within 4E. Typically, the national ministry, department or agency responsible for energy efficiency represents each government, although research entities and others may be nominated. The national delegates from each country participate in 4E’s Executive committee (ExCo). A country is deemed to be a member of 4E once the agreement has been signed and the annual membership fee is paid.

Members may also elect to participate in the work undertaken by individual Annexes, although this is entirely voluntary. 4E members may join any Annex by nominating their representatives and paying the Annex membership fee. Only 4E members can join a 4E Annex.

Membership fees can vary from year to year depending upon the agreed work program. The 2022 annual fees are shown in the table below:

  • Executive Committee €20,000
  • Electric Motor Systems Annex (EMSA) €15,000
  • Solid State Lighting Annex (SSL) €22,000
  • Electronic Devices and Networks Annex (EDNA) €15,000
  • Power Electronic Conversion Technology (PECTA) €20,000

Governments that are considering membership of 4E may request observer status so that they can attend ExCo meetings for a limited period, to meet other participants and better understand the work of 4E.

What do membership fees cover?

The work of 4E involves a high degree of co-ordination amongst participants and significant amounts of research and analysis, and therefore some financial contribution is required. However, the ExCo and Annexes are mindful of the need to keep contributions to a minimum. At the same time, because members are pooling their resources they are able to maximise the impact of their expenditure.

Fees are determined annually according to budgets agreed by participants. The Operating Agents provide a financial report to each ExCo meeting.

The annual 4E membership fee is €20,000 per country, and covers the cost of funding Mapping and Benchmarking and other projects, secretariat services, publications and promotional activities such as the website.

The fee structure for Annexes varies depending upon the task undertaken by each group, and the degree to which in-kind contributions can be used.

Are there any other costs?

In addition to the payment of membership fees, members of the ExCo and Annexes are required to cover their own travel expenses for meetings, as well as the time needed for these meetings and in reviewing documents and other management functions.

The work undertaken within Annexes usually requires input from participants, which is clearly identified within the Annex proposal. This may involve only the time taken for meetings, or in identifying local sources of information, or in providing contacts. In some cases, countries may be asked to provide local data, for example to conduct international benchmarking activities. Some countries allocate these tasks to specialist staff or to consultants; however this is a matter to be determined by individual participants.

Periodically all participants in 4E have the opportunity to provide additional funding on a voluntary basis for specific activities that are over and above the agreed work program.

How is 4E structured?

4E is managed by an Executive Committee (ExCo) comprising one voting delegate from each participating country, which currently includes Austria, Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, European Commission, France, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

This executive group meets twice yearly to manage the work programme of 4E, which is laid out within a Programme of Work approved on an annual basis, and to promote the activities of 4E. Secretariat functions for the ExCo are provided by the Operating Agent, funded by annual membership fees.

The collaborative research and development activities under 4E are undertaken within Annexes or Projects, each of which have a particular focus and agreed work plan.

What are Annexes and Projects?

Annexes and Projects are working groups on specific technologies or topics. Annexes tend to have a broader focus and may comprise a range of tasks that are best suited to issues that require a sustained focus of 3-5 years. Each Annex has one or more ‘lead country’ that establishes the Annex and invites other 4E members to participate. Once approved by the ExCo, Annexes appoint an Operating Agent and are run by their participating members who are responsible for agreeing and managing workplans, setting budgets and organising the tasks to be undertaken.

Projects tend to be shorter-lived than Annexes and typically focus on a single issue. Projects are funded out of the common 4E fund and therefore require support from all 4E members.

Since 4E is not primarily a research organisation, both Annexes and Projects are organised around the delivery of outputs that support the development of better policies by member countries. Any member of 4E can bring forward suggestions and ideas for future activities, and are encouraged to do so. The ExCo will consider any reasonable proposal, so long as it can demonstrate that it has support from other participants, does not duplicate other activities, has clear deliverables and is viable.

How frequently do meetings occur?

The ExCo meets twice each year and alternates between Europe and other participating countries. ExCo meetings typically last for one and a half days and are timed to coincide with other events relevant to equipment policy makers. Annexes have their own meeting schedule, and often include teleconferences to keep participants up-to-date. Some Annex meetings occur around the ExCo meeting so that delegates can attend both.

How is the IEA involved in 4E?

4E is one of 38 IEA Technology Collaboration Programmes active in 2018 that form the Energy Technology Network. Technology Collaboration Programmes were established by the IEA to allow interested member and non-member governments to pool resources and research the development and deployment of particular technologies.

As well as creating a legal contract and a system of standard rules and regulations, the IEA Committee on Energy Research and Technology (CERT) and Governing Board have a formal responsibility to approve new applications for Implementing Agreements. The IEA Secretariat also provides legal advice and support, and reports on energy technology collaboration activities through the IEA Web pages, the OPEN Bulletin and the publication Energy Technology Initiatives.

4E works closely with the IEA Secretariat and contributes to IEA and joint publications, such as More Date, Less Energy. The following IEA publications have used 4E research materials: Energy Efficiency Policy Opportunities for Electric Motor-Driven Systems, Tracking Clean Energy Progress, Electricity in a Climate Constrained World – Data and Analysis, Energy Technology Transitions for Building, Strategies and Opportunities to 2050.

Why are there several international organisations interested in energy efficiency?

In response to environmental, energy security and economic challenges, governments have strengthened their commitment to energy efficiency over recent years. Recognising that substantial benefits from energy efficiency will be realised more quickly and at lower cost through collaborative action, governments are driving initiatives to accelerate the dynamic sharing of knowledge, information and expertise both at the political and technical level.

While it may appear that there are many groups working on similar issues, in fact each has a unique role to play in the emerging international network of public and private sector groups with an interest in end-use energy efficiency.

4E is able to leverage high-level support through platforms such as the Clean Energy Ministerial, the International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Co-operation (IPEEC) and APEC. 4E also continues to engage with organisations such as the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, international standards organisations and industry groups to promote a better understanding of issues relating to the efficiency of end-use equipment.

The Memorandum of Understanding with SEAD demonstrates 4E’s commitment to working with other organisations to maximise impact, while at the same time taking practical steps to avoid any duplication of efforts.

How long will 4E last?

4E was established in 2008 for an initial five-year period with an option to extend, subject to a thorough review of 4E’s effectiveness and achievements and agreement by the participants and the IEA CERT. 4E entered it’s second term from 2014 to 2019, and in 2019, the existing members of 4E unanimously voted to apply for an extension, and a new Strategic Plan has been endorsed by the IEA until 2024.