Energy Service Companies

At the heart of innovative financing models for efficiency

Energy service companies (ESCOs) deliver energy efficiency projects that are financed based on energy savings. Given the need to rapidly and significantly increase financing for energy efficiency, interest in ESCO business models is growing.



In Belgium, the ESCO market is stable and moderately-sized in relation to the population. Public SuperESCOs such as Fedesco aided the development of the ESCO market which is expected to continue to grow.

In 2005 Fedesco, one of the first European Super ESCO, was formed by the Belgian Federal Government in cooperation with the Federal Building Agency and the Federal Public Services to provide energy efficiency retrofits of 1,800 public buildings with target of 22% CO2 savings financed by energy performance contracting or a separate contractor model. The company’s initial capital was 1.5 million euro which was extended to 6.5 million euro by 2015 when Fedesco was integrated into the Building Agency. Fedesco’s financing capabilities as a third-party-investor were initially 10 million euro which was raised to 100 million euro in 2009, although it never operated as a third party lender due to Belgium law preventing state funded loans to be classified as off-balance sheet. Fedesco employed a staff of 11 people with three project managers.

Fedesco utilized a “separate contractor model” which formalizes the process of financing subcontractors to perform the work of a typical ESCO with oversight by Fedesco. Projects using this subcontractor model included HVAC (mainly boiler replacement and boiler room renovation), HVAC regulation, relamping and relighting, co-generation and roof insulation (Citynvest 2015).

Fedesco also modified the traditional EPC to create the SmartEPC that formalizes and attaches performance guarantees to the operations and maintenance aspect of ESCOs work. Multiple projects were completed successfully using this model.

In 2011, Fedesco created a “Knowledgecenter” department to provide EPC facilitation services to regional public administrations. The Super ESCO funded an additional behavioural change campaign targeting building occupants.

Average duration of ESCO projects in Belgium:

The length of the contracts is between 10 – 15 years for the public sector and around 5 years for private (SME) clients (JRC 2016).

Survey Data

QualitEE Data

The legal framework for the ESCO sector in Belgium is not fully developed yet. For example, an Energy Performance Contract is not defined by law, in spite of the international provisions of the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED). It is expected that when the EED requirements are translated into actions the Belgian ESCO market will experience growth (Coolen et al. 2015).

The QualitEE survey has collected data surrounding the main drivers and barriers of business for ESCOs in Belgium. This is an excellent opportunity to compare the structural differences of ESCO markets to identify policies or mechanisms that account for such variance. Policies can then be built to complement existing drivers and overcome identified barriers.

Belgian ESCOs face similar barriers as their European counterparts, such as complexity of the concept, lack of information, administrative barriers, and lack of customer demand, and lack of trust in the ESCO industry (QualitEE 2017).

Additional barriers include: QualitEE Data

QualitEE Data