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Understanding Industrial Investment Decisions


October 25, 2012

Research Report IE124

Authors:

Christopher Russell and Rachel Young

Description:

After a prolonged recession, the U.S. economy is poised for recovery.  Economic rebound implies growth and renewal to accompany the ongoing evolution of energy markets, regulations, and technologies. Industrial modernization coincides with economic recovery and presents an opportunity to improve the use of energy across the industrial sector.  Though industry continues to capture many of the low- and no-cost energy improvement opportunities, future improvements will be increasingly linked to industry’s capital investment activity.  Industrial energy program administrators will need a better understanding of capital investment processes as these vary throughout industry.  By influencing capital investment decisions, the next generation of energy assistance programs can influence the profile of industrial energy use for years to come.  

This report describes industrial capital investment dynamics at two levels.  In the first section, macroeconomic indicators are used to segment the manufacturing sector according to growth trends for industrial output and productivity. Patterns in this data suggest priorities and nuances for engaging industry with capital investment energy program initiatives. 

The second section describes corporate investment decision-making as it is revealed through a survey of 30 industry stakeholders.  The report describes the motivations, perceptions, and impacts of investment decision-making.  Respondents also describe industry’s current receptiveness to assistance programs.  This study yields a number of critical success factors for implementing energy-related capital investment projects.