Provide a tool that supports energy engineers to design optimised energy efficient systems, which is easy to use, corresponds to needs of auditing practice, adds value (in the sense of helping energy auditors to consider options which maybe would not have been taken into account without) and helps doing the job better and more efficient.
Feed-back of EINSTEIN users is encouraged in form of contributions to discussion in forae and mailing lists, reporting of bugs and requests for new features.
The discussion about energy and related environmental problems is a highly political one; the major actors are mostly private companies with are moved by their particular economic interests (maximisation of sales of their technologies, services, etc.) and, therefore, tend to highlight the “bright side” of their own solutions and spread it out in marketing campaigns, trade fairs and lobby activities, while at the same time hiding as much as possible the “dark sides”.
In contrast, EINSTEIN’s concern is to provide a tool which allows for a comparison of different options following objective, transparent and scientifically founded criteria using a transparent and standardised energy accountancy framework.
EINSTEIN is independent of particular economic interests and adopts an a-priori neutral point of view towards different technologies and technological options, looking for the best solution in order to minimise environmental problems related with energy consumption.
EINSTEIN’s tools, algorithms and criteria are transparent and open to discussion within the community of users.
Energy saving in many cases requires investment of capital. This means, the implementation of (human) resources today in order to reduce the need for natural (e.g. fossile fuels) and human (labour) resources tomorrow.
From the society point of view, any investment is reasonable (from a merely economic point of view), if its economic return is higher than the average growth rate of the economy as a whole (which is the average return to the total current capital stock). If the real world-GDP growth rate since the year 2.000 was about 4 % in the average, this means that each investment with an internal rate of return (IRR) higher than 4 % (or in other terms, a linear pay-back period of less than 11 years at 15 years lifetime or 14 years at 20 years lifetime) would save economic resources for the society as a whole on the long run. If in addition the additional benefits: avoidance of environmental, health and other problems (which in micro-economic calculations are [not] considered as “externalities”) are taken into account, even lower rates of return / higher pay-back times would still be reasonable – and given the current emergency situation of the planet - even desirable.
This contrasts radically with the experience from everyday practice of many of us working as energy auditors, system designers or energy engineers in industrial companies: energy saving projects are very likely to be rejected by company management, if pay-back times are higher than 2 years, and in most cases fully out of discussion if pay-back times are longer than 4 or 5 years (corresponding to internal rates of return still in the range 18 – 25 %). This means that micro-economic rationality (the company or shareholder point of view) is in contrast with macro-economic rationality or the society point of view.
The way to a solution to this conflict is not a technical, but a political one and would require a change of paradigm where economic decisions are taken democratically (economic democracy) instead of following criteria of private profit maximisation of a minority. EINSTEIN cannot solve this conflict, but our goal is to educate EINSTEIN users and to create consciousness in order to make the conflict VISIBLE between WHAT IS and WHAT COULD BE. It’s up to everybody and out of the scope of EINSTEIN to draw conclusions out of this insight and act in consequence (or not).
In practice this means that everywhere where economic analysis or the concept of economic feasibility comes into play, EINSTEIN obliges the user to be aware that economic feasibility is not an objective truth, but depends on the subjective point of view: economically feasible for whom ? in whose interest ? In consequence, in parallel to the classical (micro-)economic analysis as teached by the schools for business administration and understood by company management, EINSTEIN always offers also the additional alternative possibilty to evaluate investments in energy savings and renewables from the society (or social planner’s) point of view.
The base version of EINSTEIN is free and open source. With this, EINSTEIN, which in major parts has been developed in the framework of publicly funded projects, follows the philosophy of public funding for public benefit. Even if up to the present – in spite of several attempts - we did not succeed to make community development to a major pillar for EINSTEIN development, we continue promoting this idea inviting all the interested people who share (some of) our objectives and our philosophy to contribute to and to participate in the discussion about this project.