Q: How is the SPEEDIER project progressing?
A: The SPEEDIER project began in June 2019 and, in our first year, we have already achieved so much. In the first six months of the project, we focussed our attention on understanding the key challenges and barriers that prevent SMEs from undertaking energy audits and implementing energy efficiency measures.
We carried out an in-depth literature review to ensure that we learned from, and made use of, the findings from other projects and took time to get to know the SME markets in each of our pilot regions through a series of online questionnaires and focus groups with key stakeholders. This really allowed us to refine the SPEEDIER Service definition to make sure that what we are offering is something that is both wanted and needed by SMEs and highlighted the need to be flexible enough to account for the different requirements according to SME location, size and sector.
In the background, other team members have also been working hard to prepare the SPEEDIER tool for Experts, a software tool that aims to streamline and standardise the process of carrying out energy assessments for SMEs, and the SPEEDIER mobile app, which will be used as a means of enhancing the training and capacity building programmes delivered to SMEs by SPEEDIER Experts. More recently we have begun to develop the training and capacity building materials to be delivered to our SMEs and the training for our SPEEDIER Experts.
Q: What are the challenges ahead?
A: Like many projects, SPEEDIER has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic. The lockdowns in each of the SPEEDIER pilot regions prevented our SPEEDIER Experts from visiting SME sites to carry out energy assessments and capacity building activities.
This has delayed the implementation phase of the project and recovering from this delay will be a significant challenge for the SPEEDIER team. As lockdowns start to ease around Europe, we are now beginning to re-engage with the SMEs and restructuring some elements of the project to account for new ways of working.
For example, where possible we have been gathering energy consumption data to allow desktop energy audits to be carried out and most of our training and capacity building activities will now take place online.
But the real challenge is in re-engaging with SMEs who have suffered significant losses over the last few months, some of whom are still struggling to reopen. We are taking the view that SPEEDIER should be part of the “green recovery” and are working with local organisations to offer the SPEEDIER Service as part of local COVID-19 recovery packages. This will help SMEs to manage their energy costs and operate as efficiently as possible.