In 2012, The Saudi Energy Efficiency Center (SEEC) launched the Saudi Energy Efficiency Program (SEEP – called hereafter ‘the Program’) with the objectives of improving the Kingdom’s energy efficiency by designing and implementing initiatives and their enablers. A sub-committee was established by SEEC’s Board, chaired by the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources and composed of members from all related government entities, to establish the Program. The subcommittee focused the Program’s scope of work on three main sectors (buildings, transportation, and industry) representing more than 90 per cent of Saudi Arabia’s energy consumption, and five enablers (regulations, Energy Services Companies, funding, governance, and awareness). The sub-committee also ensured that the Program followed a set of guiding principles:
- The Program is limited to energy demand-side management only;
- The Program does not include price reforms;
- The Program designs energy efficiency initiatives based on the effects on the end-users (to ensure reasonable payback periods);
- The Program designs the initiatives in consensus with the stakeholders, including the private sector if necessary.
The Program has focused its initial efforts on increasing the minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) for air conditioners (ACs), lighting products, various other home appliances (such as washing machines and driers), and on enforcing thermal insulation in new buildings. In addition, efforts have been initiated with the National Committee of the Saudi Building Code to enhance and revise measures and enforcement mechanisms related to energy efficiency in new buildings. Existing public buildings will be retrofitted to increase their energy efficiency, whereas households in residential buildings will be incentivized through financial schemes to replace existing inefficient products with efficient ones.
A number of important lessons were learned during the development of the Program:
1. Technical expertise and approach: The team should use a fact-based systematic methodological approach in the design and implementation of the Program to avoid conflicts of opinions and give confidence to the stakeholders that decisions are rational and unbiased.
2. Stakeholder engagement: The team should engage with the government and private sector stakeholders from the inception of the Program to ensure practical initiative design and buy-in for smooth implementation.
3. Leadership commitment: The team should have the continuous support of the highest level of the government, to alleviate the hurdles which are bound to present themselves for the Program, as the interest of the Kingdom might conflict with the status quo.
4. Coordinated enforcement: Enforcement of the regulations and standards ought to be optimized by developing a unified enforcement approach and coordinating the various government entities’ enforcement efforts, in order to ensure high levels of compliance.