Increasing research interests in energy performance contracting (EPC) has resulted in a large number of publications over the past decade. However, very limited attempts have been made to map the global research in this area. To identify the state of the field and trends in EPC research, the VOSviewer software package was used to conduct a series of content analyses and examine global patterns among publications, including the distribution of core authors and institutions, high-frequency categories and keywords, journal and author contributions, highly cited papers, etc. Based on a systematical and deeply qualitative analysis on the 127 identified papers, five mainstream research topics in EPC were summarized, covering implementations of EPC, mechanisms for effective EPC projects, stakeholder behaviors and decisions in EPC projects, energy service company (ESCO) in EPC projects, and risk management in EPC. In addition, six main research gaps in EPC were identified, including lack of effective measurement and verification of energy savings, limited studies on EPC projects in the residential sector, ineffective mechanisms to ensure post-EPC energy-saving, limited research on the dual relationships among EPC project stakeholders, how to improve the energy users’ (EU) attitudes/cognitions toward ESCO/EPC, and lack of effective mechanisms to prevent risks in EPC projects. Furthermore, based on the current EPC research topics and research gaps in EPC, six potential research directions in EPC in future were also explored, which are how to develop effective methods for measuring and verifying energy efficiency?, EPC diffusion issues in the residential sector, effective mechanisms to ensure post-EPC energy-saving, effects of cooperative and competitive relationships between EU and ESCO on the performance of EPC projects, how to improve the EU’s attitudes/cognitions toward ESCO/EPC, and how to deal with risks in EPC projects. The outcomes would be useful for understanding the latest development of global EPC research and guiding future research in the subject.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited