Mihaela Lupancescu, as a representative of the South-West Oltenia Automotive Competitiveness Pole, agreed to give us an interview regarding the policy and energy efficiency measures for industrial SMEs in the automotive sector. Founded back in 2012 and counting 37 members, the Automotive Competitiveness Pole has set as main objective to increase the competitiveness of the automotive sector with a wide range of activities both in the professional training and by making new investments, technology transfer and enhancing collaboration between the University of Craiova and companies active in the automotive field for the development of joint research projects applied especially in the field of electromobility, in order to use the experience of regional R & D & I sector.

Mihai Marian, as regional implementation manager from the South-West Oltenia Regional Development Agency, interviewed Mihaela about the regional energy efficiency policy framework and measures related to industrial SMEs in the automotive sector.

Mihai Marian, South-West Oltenia Regional Development Agency: Why is energy saving important for industrial SMEs and also for the region?

Mihaela Lupancescu, South-West Oltenia Automotive Competitiveness Pole: One of the main priorities of the Romanian Industrial Policy Document is represented by the increase of economic competitiveness through energy efficiency in industrial processes. This is transposed at regional level through the RIS 3 Strategy for 2021-2027 financing period. Also, in the same RIS 3 Strategy, we can identify as a Strategic Priority the increase of competitiveness of the business environment and supporting the industrial transition by offering support for the acquisition of new technologies, including energy efficiency, sustainable use of resources and alignment with the principles of the circular economy. To conclude, we can tell that the energy efficiency policy already represents a priority for the next 10 to 20 years. As a general highlight, we can see that the energy efficiency will not focus only at the level of regional / local public administrations and individuals, but also in the case of the business environment, particularly targeting small and medium enterprises in the industrial sector.

Mihai: What kind of energy efficiency measures do you consider to have a greater impact in the region: financial (greenhouse gas emission certificates), market - based on instruments (giving market actors the freedom to choose the measures and delivery routes that work best for them – ex: energy management), legislative or informative (promoting the use of energy efficient equipment and appliances)?

Mihaela: We consider that all of the mentioned measures (meaning financial, market and legislative), packed in an integrated framework approach of the energy efficiency policy will have the greatest impact on the regional market. Of course that in order to obtain the best results you will have to adapt and to have a decentralized approach that takes into account the specific needs identified at the SME level. In our case, judging by the estimated potential for energy savings and reduction of production costs by streamlining processes in the industrial sector, we believe that only through an integrated approach can this potential be fully exploited.

Mihai: What are the main technological and non-technological barriers for an Industrial SME in implementing energy efficiency measures?

Mihaela: The most considered technological and non-technological barriers for an industrial SME when implementing EE measures, could be the following:

  • Lack of knowledge of the SMEs regarding to the EE possibilities in the technological process;
  • Lack of training and experience in the field of energy management of consumers;
  • Lack of tools for arguing the benefit of the EE measures;
  • Considering EE measures a threat for the production process and product quality;
  • Lack of equipment / technology;
  • Energy efficiency usually is not considered a priority in SMEs.

Another barrier that is often reported by the SMEs with regards to energy efficiency measures refers to the technical risk. The risk of production failure and the risk of product quality issues represent a significant concern for SMEs and they usually reflect the lack of trust and confidence of the available technical solutions. If this barrier is combined with the lack of skilled personnel responsible for proposing and evaluating energy improvements within the SMEs, then it will be obvious that most of the SMEs are not potentially ready to adopt the solutions provided by the market, from a technical point of view.

... continue to the Part 2 of the interview