Alowais goes on to note that around 40% of SEWA’s top 100 consumers are from the industrial sector, while 33% are from the government and 26% are commercial entities.
Pointing out that the industrial sector has a “lot of potential” for energy savings, she adds that retrofit activities involving industrial companies and buildings have specific requirements that ESCOs without experience in the sector struggle to fulfil.
“This is one of the challenges of the ESCO market,” she says. “You need an experienced ESCO because [retrofitting] can affect the company’s processes and production line. You don’t want to affect profits, so you need to find a flexible ESCO with experience in the industrial sector.”
This awareness of the varying retrofit needs of different sectors has prompted SEWA to offer free consultancy services, including energy audits.
According to Alowais, by offering free energy audits, SEWA is able to use numbers to convince customers that they stand to benefit from retrofitting their properties, which she describes as being more effective than simply detailing what the retrofit programme is all about.
“We ask the customers to allow us to carry out an energy audit on their buildings, and then we discuss with them their savings potential,” she explains. “When customers see the figures and numbers, they will be open and ready to listen. At that stage, they will collaborate with you to find the best way to achieve [the savings].
“You can’t just introduce the programme without showing them some numbers. If you go to a customer saying we can save them 30% in [their building’s energy use], they will ask you how you knew that. But if you audit the building first and show them exactly how much they can save, they will be convinced to listen to you.”
In addition to energy audits, SEWA matches retrofit projects with registered ESCOs for free, says Alowais, adding that the scheme benefits all parties: “The ESCO can get work through SEWA, and the customer can get the best offer, also through SEWA.”
The authority’s energy-efficiency efforts are not just directed towards the retrofitting of existing buildings, however. SEWA has started selling products it deems efficient, such as light-emitting diode lighting systems, and has extended its free consultancy services to new construction.
“When customers come to us, they ask for electricity and water services,” Alowais says. “What SEWA does is try to find the best product for each customer. We will recommend the best brands and help them find out how they can make their buildings more efficient, even before construction.
“Instead of developing the building and then wondering how to reduce its consumption, it is better to start from the beginning.”