Climate change, due to anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases, is driving policymakers to make decisions to promote more efficient energy use. Improved industrial energy efficiency is said to play a key role in the transition to more carbon-neutral energy systems. In most countries, industrial small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent 95% or more of the total number of companies. Thus, SMEs, apart from using energy, are a major driver in the economy with regard to innovation, GDP growth, employment, investments, exports, etc. Despite this, research and policy activities related to SMEs have been scarce, calling for contributions in the field. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to critically assess how adequate energy efficiency policy programmes for industrial SMEs could be designed. Results show that scientific publications in the field differ in scope and origin, but a major emphasis of the scientific papers has been on barriers to and drivers for energy efficiency. Scientific contributions from studies of energy policy programmes primarily cover energy audit programmes and show that the major energy efficiency measures from industrial SMEs are found in support processes. The review further reveals an imbalance in geographic scope of the papers within the field, where a vast majority of the papers emanate from Europe, calling for scientific publications from other parts of the world. The study synthesizes the findings into a general method on how to design efficiency programs for the sector.
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