Energy efficiency is seen by many as a crucial component of the UK’s Energy Security Strategy. It has been proven to be one way that businesses can reduce their costs and carbon emissions quickly, which will help them avoid economic downturns caused by fuel and energy price hikes or environmental concerns.
Energy efficiency improvements across all sectors in the UK have gone up year-on-year. In the past 20 years, the UK commercial sector has seen a 30 percent improvement in energy efficiency.
According to a report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the UK is the second-most energy efficient country in the world – behind France and ahead of Germany and the Netherlands. This achievement is largely due to the UK government’s support for households in this regard.
Businesses play a major role in the UK’s energy efficiency strategies. Below we discuss schemes and policies that drive this initiative for businesses in the UK.
Government grants, policies, and schemes for energy efficiency in the UK
The UK has a variety of policies that target energy efficiency within its industry. One such measure is The Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS). Other measures targeting energy efficiency (and carbon emissions by extension) include Climate Change Agreements (CCA), Climate Change Levy (CCL), and Enhanced Capital Allowances (ECA), the UK ETS, and the Energy Company Obligation (ECO).
[Image with alt text: business energy efficiency grants]
ESOS is a mandatory energy assessment scheme for organisations in the UK qualified as having large undertakings. It is a mandatory programme that requires energy audits for “large enterprises” – more than 250 employees, an annual turnover of more than £50m, and an annual balance sheet total of more than £43m. These audits are of the energy used by buildings, industrial processes and transport to identify cost effective energy saving measures.
Climate Change Agreements
Climate change agreements are voluntary agreements made between UK industry and the Environment Agency to reduce energy use and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. In return, operators receive a discount on the Climate Change Levy (CCL), a tax added to electricity and fuel bills.
Climate Change Levy
The Climate Change Levy is an environmental tax charged on the energy that businesses use. It’s designed to encourage businesses in all industries to be more efficient about how they operate while also helping reduce overall emissions.
Enhanced Capital Allowances
Businesses can claim enhanced capital allowances – a type of first-year allowance – when they purchase equipment that helps them be more energy efficient and lower their emissions. Qualifying equipment includes new zero-emissions cars; electric vehicle charging stations; gas, biogas, and hydrogen refuelling equipment; and more.
The UK Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) is a cap-and-trade system which caps the total level of greenhouse gas emissions, creating a carbon market with a carbon price signal to incentivise decarbonisation.
Energy Company Obligation
The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) is a government energy efficiency scheme in Great Britain to help reduce carbon emissions and tackle fuel poverty.
All businesses must have their buildings assessed for energy efficiency through the Energy Performance Certificates scheme.
Updates to this consultation are found here.
Supports schemes for UK businesses investing in energy efficiency
These support schemes and networks are available nationwide in the UK:
- BEIS Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator provides funds for companies willing to implement low carbon technology.
- Clean Growth Fund invests in early stage UK companies seeking investment capital for low carbon activities.
- Industrial Energy Transformation Fund gives “high energy use” businesses matching funds up to £30M for feasibility studies, efficiency measures and decarbonisation deployment.
What are commercial Energy Performance Certificates?
Most businesses operating in the UK must be certified with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). Issued by qualified assessors, these certificates inform how energy efficient the building of a business is. The rating scale goes from A (very efficient) to G (inefficient).
An EPC also includes information on what the energy efficiency rating could be if you made the recommended improvements and highlights cost effective ways to achieve a better rating.
EPCs are valid for 10 years from the date of issue.
Groups and associations promoting energy efficiency in the UK
There are a number of groups and associations in the UK that promote energy efficiency. Businesses can join or look to these groups to gain insights into improving their own business energy consumption and networking with others doing the same.
Energy Managers Association
The Energy Managers Association tarets energy managers as a profession but offers energy management training, courses, and resources for businesses. It publishes a bi-monthly magazine.
Energy Efficiency Infrastructure Group
The Energy Efficiency Infrastructure Group (EEIG), is a collaboration of leading industry and trade bodies and consumer groups, think tanks, environmental NGOs and major engineering, energy, construction and insulation businesses.
Energy Efficiency Hub
The Energy Efficiency Hub is a global platform for collaboration on energy efficiency, pursuing solutions through task groups focused on topics of common interest. The UK is one of the “Hub’s” founding members.
How to achieve energy efficiency today
Changing the materials of your buildings throughout your business can be costly and time-consuming. While improving and modernising your buildings would net you improved energy efficiency scoring, you can achieve better efficiencies immediately and with little to no costs by reducing your energy consumption in your operations.
Energy management systems (EMS) are important tools for businesses to monitor their power and gas consumption. An EMS like ClearVUE.Zero processes large volumes of energy and carbon data from numerous circuits and meters, and instantly shows the data on easily readable charts and graphs on any web-enabled device. Your company will have immediate access to energy and carbon analysis and insight to become more energy efficient overnight.
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