Lars Erik Knaack Opinion - 11/January/2023

We can accelerate the green agenda if we look across borders

Europe should look at how other nations are promoting new technologies to accelerate the deployment of new smart energy systems in Europe, says Lars Erik Knaack at NOVENCO Building & Industry

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of FORESIGHT Climate & Energy

State support can offset the risk for use of new, more expensive technologies

There is no doubt that implementing existing energy-efficient solutions is just as important as developing new green technologies if we are to meet the Paris agreement target. But we need to be much better at sharing best practice across borders to get the required speed in the green transition.

One of the projects that could be a beacon for many building owners and operators is Keppel Bay Tower in Singapore. In 2018, Keppel Land, the building’s owner, received a grant from the Building and Construction Authority in Singapore of over $1 million to test five new and emerging energy-efficient technologies with the aim of reducing the building’s energy consumption significantly and improving its energy efficiency by 20%.

In 2020, Keppel Land announced that the changes had resulted in an improvement of 22.3%, exceeding the initial ambitious target by an additional 2.3 percentage points.

Keppel Bay Tower’s approach to selecting and implementing new technologies could be more widely used for two reasons: Firstly, Keppel Bay Tower was a building already in operation with existing infrastructure, where it is more challenging to implement new technologies than in a new building that is designed with energy-efficient solutions from the offset. And, secondly, the improvement works had to be carried out without disturbing the ongoing operations in the building.

In Europe, roughly 75% of the building stock is energy-inefficient, wasting a large part of the energy used. Since the built environment is the single largest energy consumer in the EU, accounting for 40% of the energy consumption, there is a dire need to act upon this knowledge and to do so at a high pace.




Using the grant funding, Keppel Land selected the most interesting technologies to be installed on its structure, acting as a testbed. Out of more than 50 applicants, the technologies piloted included a high-efficiency air distribution system, an innovative cooling tower water management system, integrated sensor technology to optimise fresh air intake, smart LED lighting and an intelligent building-control system.

Can the Keppel Bay Tower testbed approach be used in a European setting and would it help us make current building stock energy efficient at the pace required? I am in no doubt that it would.

A testbed can verify technologies’ proof of concept in an accurate, transparent, and replicable way and keep the test environment shielded from the risks of testing in a live environment.

The fastest way to the green transition is to be more efficient and use less, which is why we should look across borders to find the best solutions and approaches to bring them into operation as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Right now, we cannot rely on climate solutions to lie solely in large-scale solar parks or offshore wind projects like energy islands because the construction time is too long.

As we wait for these new energy islands and other new technologies to be in operation, we must make use of the efficient technologies already at hand—and we need to do it as smartly as possible by using best practices from others.


If you have a thoughtful response to the opinions expressed here or if you have an idea for a thought leadership article regarding an aspect of the global energy transition, please send a short pitch of 200 words outlining your thoughts and credentials to:



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related articles

The energy transition needs a new definition of pretty

Current policies around the energy transition place emphasis on the democratisation of power generation and the rise of prosumers. But while the energy system of the future may be decarbonised and digital, it will also be less decentralised than we envisage, say Thomas Boermans and Michael Stautz of E.ON

Read more

Why do we favour renewables over energy efficiency?

It is beyond discussion that the global climate emergency calls for solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and requires decarbonisation. Often, the spotlight is aimed at renewable energy as the solution, but in fact, we can achieve 44% of the required global reductions by capturing the potential of energy efficiency, argues Lars Knaack of Novenco

Read more

On the hunt for low-carbon aluminium

Recycling existing aluminium has significant carbon benefits compared to producing brand new material. However, the limited resources cannot keep up with the growing demand. The industry is looking to reduce carbon intensity while maintaining aluminium’s benefits

Read more

Soaring energy prices call for more energy efficiency

Two things have made energy-efficient solutions more in demand than ever: the invasion of Ukraine, which has sent Europe’s energy prices skyrocketing, and the green agenda, says Lars Erik Knaack at Novenco Building & Industry

Read more

Decarbonising our buildings

In this first episode of Policy Dispatch, we take a deep dive into buildings and the need to accelerate their decarbonisation, with Member of the European Parliament Ciarán Cuffe

Read more

A ‘buildings breakthrough’ agenda at COP means heat pumps are in the limelight

Placing decarbonisation of buildings on the international agenda means heat pumps can finally have their moment in the spotlight, says Richard Lowes of the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP)

Read more

House power: the hidden powerhouse of the new energy landscape

With REPowerEU underway, Europe’s energy and climate strategy demands a rapid change of scenery. We must utilise the full palette of solutions available, including household flexibility, says Sophie Yule-Bennett from the Regulatory Assistance Project

Read more

How to maximise energy efficiency investments

Sudden spikes in the cost of energy have pushed energy efficiency higher up the public and political agenda. Building renovations can be costly, but there could be ways of making energy efficiency itself more efficient

Read more

EU presses ahead with policy renovation

Two of the European Union’s (EU) main energy laws are in the process of being updated. Despite the fundamental role they play in decarbonisation efforts, the rules have so far failed to live up to climate expectations. This is set to change

Read more

The heating policy paradox

Citizens across Europe are concerned about their heating bills as a result of the energy price crisis, but sustainable heating and cooling do not yet receive much attention in the EU’s agenda

Read more