The Effectiveness of Energy Efficiency Voluntary Agreements

Voluntary Agreements (VAs) are one type of policy measure used by governments to stimulate the development and uptake of energy efficiency appliances and equipment.

In 2017, 4E conducted research that focused mainly on 51 VAs in place since 2000 made between a government and industry actors, where industry has taken the initiative.

The results are contained within a consultants’ report and 4E Policy Brief.

The key findings include:

Since 2000 the majority of VAs studied have been initiated:

  • To implement minimum performance levels for consumer electronics & information and communications technology (ICT). These include VAs in Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia, covering products such as set-top boxes, games consoles, small networked equipment, imaging equipment, data centres and external power supplies.
  • To establish the voluntary labelling of equipment. Examples of these exist for air- conditioning, commercial refrigeration, motors, circulator pumps and coffee machines in Europe, the United States and Switzerland.

Our analysis shows that:

  • In general, the VAs studied appear to have delivered energy performance improvements and energy savings, however the level of ambition has been modest.
  • VAs usually take 1-2 years to come into force, although negotiations may become protracted where the level of ambition is raised, with increased technical complexity or with more participants in the process.
  • Where all parties agree, VAs can be modified relatively quickly to take account of changes in product types or functionalities.
  • For product categories where there is limited information about energy performance and technological potential, VAs can enable both governments and industry partners to improve their understanding.
  • VAs are a distinct policy tool best applied when policy action is desirable but regulation currently not feasible, for example when there are regulatory hurdles, unusual markets, lack of information or lack of government resources.

The are no plans at the currently time for 4E to undertake further work on this topic.