Attention has focused on financial incentives to encourage energy end users, primarily residential customers, to invest in energy efficiency and renewable-energy technologies in buildings. However, little attention has been paid to the issue of incentives for the infrastructure that strongly affects how much energy is used in buildings. The current trend is to develop and test financial incentives for infrastructure organizations -- utility companies, product manufacturers, and energy intermediaries -- to foster their promotion of energy efficiency in buildings and the use of renewable-energy technologies.
While the literature on financial incentives is sizable, most of it is focused on energy end users in residential and commercial buildings. Only a handful of studies compare the results of different types of financial incentives within and across organizations. Few studies examined costs and benefits of financial incentives for residences. A great deal of consolidation of existing literature would be required to produce a complete state-of-knowledge chapter.
Methodological problems include a lack of comparability of operational measures, definitions of terms, and so on. The cost of an incentive might be operationally defined to include the dollar amount provided to the recipient, the marketing cost involved, administrative costs, or all three. Studies lack consistency in using these approaches.
While incentive programs may not have achieved the levels of market penetration originally desired, and while their penetration has varied markedly (from lows of 1% to 2% to highs of 30%), they may have yielded positive unintended consequences in infrastructure development.