As we approach 2018, what key trends in energy efficiency are closing out the year?

Energy Live News is reporting that a new energy and carbon reporting framework would be supported by 87% of decision makers in British businesses.

The news comes from npower Business Solutions, whose research shows UK stakeholders believe new frameworks could drive a nationwide reduction in energy use, bills and carbon emissions.

According to Energy Live News, the survey of 500 senior figures suggests reduced energy costs would be the biggest benefit from a change in reporting frameworks (58%), followed by increased energy efficiency (54%) and reduced bureaucracy (45%).

The intriguing industry sentiment comes in response to the Government’s October 2017 Streamlined Energy & Carbon Reporting Consultation, which will run until January 4 2018.

Its purpose is to seek views on how to replace the reporting element of the Carbon Reduction Commitment, which will be abolished after the 2018/19 compliance year.

“The reform package has been put in place to cut down administration burdens and raise energy efficiency awareness for UK PLC,” comments Kevin Cox, Managing Director, Energys.

“In our organisation, as experts on energy efficiency, we are aware of the fact that reporting can be burdensome, but it’s also incredibly valuable.

“It can drive internal change, behavioural change, and take energy efficiency right up the boardroom priority list. We urge every UK company to make it their business to look at the consultation.

“If we can start off 2018 in the right way, with a fantastic new framework that delivers more and more energy efficiency throughout the year; that will be an amazing Christmas present.”

Gas vs energy efficiency

Elsewhere, Carbon Brief has analysed whether gas, which accounts for more than a third of UK emissions, can continue to play a role in the provision of energy, given the UK’s current climate ambitions.

Its research, released on December 5, cites recent analysis by the Tyndall Centre which suggests the role of gas will be extremely limited, due to the small remaining carbon budget.

Alternatively, Carbon Brief finds that energy efficiency remains a more attractive option for achieving long term carbon mitigation and business opportunities in the UK.

Its research explains; ‘While gas displaces some coal initially (prior to 2020), as is currently being observed in the UK’s electricity generation sector, the modelling points to a cost-effective pathway where new investment is focused on renewables and in energy efficiency measures.’

“We’re pleased to see more evidence that energy efficiency is the best option for mitigating carbon and delivering futureproof, responsive UK businesses,” says Cox.

“Many in the sector know and understand that the energy you don’t use is always cheaper and greener than any fossil fuel, even one which acts as a ‘bridge’ to help kick the UK’s historic fossil fuel addiction.

“We advocate; get energy efficiency to the top of the pile now, and let’s not pretend that fossils represent more than a transitory option at best.”

Energys wishes all our friends and partners a Happy Christmas, and we look forward to keeping you up to date with the sector throughout 2018.

5 things you need to know about this year’s party conferences and energy

We round-up the key issues in energy which the UK’s political parties are grappling with at their respective conferences.

1. Energy prices won’t go away

According to this i news briefing, MPs of all parties are demanding Theresa May keeps her promise to curb big energy price rises.

It claims Theresa May is facing a growing Tory rebellion before her party’s conference, over failing to act on a manifesto commitment to cap electricity and gas bills for 17 million families across the UK.

The government signalled on Thursday 28 September that it was prepared to legislate to curb excessive price rises if the regulator Ofgem failed to produce adequate proposals to combat profiteering.

2. Labour to re-nationalise energy

Metro writes that John McDonnell has confirmed that Labour will re-nationalise railways, water, energy and Royal Mail, if in power.

“Building an economy for the many also means bringing ownership and control of the utilities and key services into the hands of people who use and work in them. Rail, water, energy, Royal Mail: we’re taking them back.” he said.

3. Brexit trumps energy

Richard Black, Director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, says feedback from MPs suggests it is difficult to predict what will be happening in Parliament over the next couple of months following conferences. “The prime ministership is very fragile,” he told Utility Week.

But others are more candid; saying there’s little doubt which issue will be most on Tory activists’ minds when they assemble in Manchester. “The Tory party will be dominated by Brexit, I’m afraid,” says Tim Yeo, the Conservative former Chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee.

4. But, there is hope…

However, Luke Clark, Head of Public Affairs at Renewable UK, believes the consensus around the need to decarbonise the energy mix has strengthened over the past year.

“Across the parties there is a very strong majority in favour of continued development of renewables. Very few fringe voices are questioning the direction of travel,” was his takeaway for Utility Week.

5. Nuclear is in the mix

The sense is that nuclear power will continue to be under the spotlight at the Tory conference, with environmentalists calling for a rethink of government support following the dramatic reduction in offshore wind prices thrown up by the recent contracts for difference auction.

The nuclear lobby will be heartened that BEIS Secretary Greg Clark’s biggest energy speaking slot on the Tory fringe will be an hour-long Q&A at a Nuclear Industry Association meeting.

“There’s so much electricity capacity coming off in the next 10 to 15 years that we need to develop all of the low-carbon options available to us and that includes nuclear,” says Peter Haslam, Head of Policy at the Nuclear Industry Association.

Energys Group are experts in delivering energy efficient technologies. We’d be delighted to talk about any of the issues and themes covered in this article. Give us a call for a chat.

Energy policy, infrastructure, investment and the future; Energys Group supports aims of new Balfour Beatty report

Balfour Beatty is one of the UK’s top infrastructure providers. As such, it is expertly positioned to comment and lobby on measures required to maintain jobs, competitive industry and a burgeoning UK economy.

The firm’s latest report; ‘Infrastructure 2050 – Future Infrastructure Need,’ has much to say. Overarchingly, it seeks to influence future infrastructure and energy policy, highlighting UK skills shortages, an investment shortfall and economic uncertainty, plus Brexit, as just some of the obstacles to future prosperity.

The report in detail; energy

Balfour Beatty clearly believes that technology is key to the future. Its paper argues that smart technology in building design can help individuals control the space around them and the amount of energy they use.

This endorsement of energy efficiency is most welcome, but there is more. The firm says that a clear long-term vision for UK energy policy needs to be developed, agreed, communicated and retained to provide investors with certainty.

More specifically, the government should support the development of interconnectors, smart grids and smart networks and energy storage through the removal of regulatory barriers to develop markets, in order to help deliver £8bn a year savings to the UK consumer.

Evidently, Balfour considers the UK grid antiquated, and wants solutions fast. It says society will come more and more to demand intelligent infrastructure, which makes the most of energy generation and
distribution.

This will make our buildings smarter and offer up data to inform future decision making. But the implicit sense in the paper is that as a whole, the UK is as yet distant from reaching such goals.

Decarbonisation

Unsurprisingly, Balfour seeks a largely decarbonised energy system before the middle of the century, saying a continuous, reliable and low carbon energy supply is crucial for economic growth and stability as well as social well-being.

It predicts a worsening energy crunch by 2030 and is candid on today’s incoherent strategy, saying, ‘A clear long-term vision for UK energy policy needs to be developed and communicated to facilitate the hundreds of billions of pounds worth of investment in the energy supply infrastructure required by 2030.’

Balfour does praise recent decisions on an overall coal phase out, but argues such certainty is required across the energy policy and investment landscape.

The firm sees a burgeoning future for energy storage, saying it can be used to complement low carbon and renewable generation sources if utilised as a balancing mechanism and appropriately regulated, creating a multi-billion pound industry.

The sense within the paper as a whole is that there is hope out there, but appropriate actions are required fast, and today’s politics pose a risk to future readiness in energy.

The Energys response

“We welcome Balfour Beatty’s paper,” comments Kevin Cox, Managing Director, Energys Group. “The energy sections in particular show how world leading infrastructure providers are all coming to the same conclusion; energy efficiency and decarbonisation represent the future.

“Obviously, tough political times are here, and there are myriad challenges for today’s UK energy sector. To my mind, the paper points to one truth.

“If low carbon firms, centralised policy and the big infrastructure providers and operators come together, there is a chance not only to develop a prosperous UK, but one whose jobs and industries primarily create wealth from low carbon, not coal.

“The issue is we must start now. And all must pull together. Time is not available to waste.”

Energy Institute Report Highlights: Energy efficiency’s challenges and opportunities

000The Energy Institute (TEI) has produced its 2017 Barometer; analysing the pressure on UK energy efficiency. What’s TEI’s professional verdict on the next 12 months for low carbon?

What are 2017’s key challenges?

Energy policy, the investment environment and the need for energy system change are the main challenges for the energy industry in 2017, as identified by TEI members.

Uncertainties

Brexit and wider geopolitics could negatively impact efforts to develop a clear UK energy strategy, to update infrastructure, and to meet demand and climate targets at least cost to end users.

Brexit itself

Brexit is a vast concern to the sector. Negotiators must pay heed to energy policy, regulation and trade agreements, energy costs, and security of supply.

Free movement of labour is key, and skilled engineers and workers could be at a premium. Training and apprenticeships could help prevent a shortfall.

Great Repeal regulations should be informed by existing EU legislation, and continued cooperation with the EU is considered desirable.

UK energy policy

Uncertain energy policy is contributing to a risky investment climate, with immature low carbon technologies most affected. Tech readiness and markets are being harmed. Better business and academia links are needed.

Moderate price rises across primary and retail energy markets are coming in 2017, with exchange rates expected to have a greater influence than in previous years.

Transition to low carbon

The UK will likely fall short of its carbon targets through to 2050. Additional support for energy efficiency and renewables could help close the perceived carbon policy gap. That said, wider environmental concerns, falling technology costs, and rising energy costs are making efficiency more attractive.

Future energy will be more flexible and will involve system-level strategies and new business models. Grid updates, energy storage and new tech will change behaviours and shift consumer demand.

Financial incentives, mandatory standards and community engagement are seen as the best measures for reducing emissions.

Overall, decentralisation and new models will drive innovation, with new tech coming to suit the new direction.

And finally

TEI professionals expect that decarbonisation of the energy system will be the greatest change they witness over their careers. But it won’t come without its challenges, and its winners and losers.

Call us today for an informal chat about the ways Energys Group can help your business improve its low carbon. 

Cash-positive lease package delivers energy efficient LED lighting upgrade to Theresa May’s former school

A risk-free operational lease has allowed the Oxfordshire state secondary school to install the latest LED lighting technology with no upfront costs, delivering £8.5k annual savings.

The number of schools across the UK deciding to make the journey from traditional lighting to the latest LED-based systems is increasing all the time – thanks in no small part to the availability of innovative financing schemes that make it possible to cope with the investment expenses over an extended period of time.

Occupying the site of UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s former school, Wheatley Park School in Oxfordshire is one such institution, having recently utilised a leasing scheme operated by lighting specialist Energys Group and Utility Rentals to undertake a comprehensive lighting upgrade.

The school is no stranger to the benefits of energy efficient lighting, having engaged Energys Group five years ago to undertake the successful retrofit conversion of fluorescent T8 tubes to energy-efficient T5s. With the T5 adapters coming to the end of their life, Energys proposed an LED upgrade using the latest technology from New Vision, that would bring significant benefits in terms of energy consumption and lighting quality.

Unique funding option

It was Raj Gunasekaran, Business Development Manager at Energys Group, who first suggested to Wheatley Park Senior Site Manager David Jones and School Business Manager Kevin Heritage that they might wish to explore the opportunities presented by a unique lease package funded by Utility Rentals. The scheme enables schools to upgrade their lighting to energy efficient LED with no upfront cost.

By contrast to some other available funding schemes, the Utility Rentals scheme is “fast and guaranteed and is available for any school in the country – no matter what size or establishment type. The rental scheme is cash-positive from day one, with repayments covered by the energy costs saved. The repayments are also fixed and won’t go up year on year and can even be deferred until 12 months after the lighting has been installed,” says Utility Rentals director Steve Mattey, who highlights the scheme’s compliance with the Academies Financial Handbook.

‘Extremely happy’

 For Kevin Heritage, the business case for the lease package was a ‘no brainer’ and helped the project to get approved by governors. “There is no upfront investment capital needed and the repayments are covered by the money we will save on energy. All of the lighting is fully maintained for the duration of the lease, so there will be no surprises.”

Encompassing both indoor and outdoor areas, the installation resulted in new LED lighting being brought to classrooms, offices, science labs, workshops, common areas, science labs and the drama block, among other spaces.

Remarkably, the fit-out was completed in just over one week, but its benefits are set to be long-lasting indeed. With annual energy savings expected to be £8.5k, and maintenance costs reduced by £4k, the project’s Return on Investment is predicted to less than 3 and a half years.

Enhanced learning environment

The school is evidently delighted by the results of the project. “The lighting is now 30% more efficient and it has actually been possible to reduce the amount of lighting as the output is so much brighter – so there’s a further notable saving to be taken into account,” David Jones observes. “The funding scheme’s five-year repayment terms allow us to meet the costs in a reasonable way that complements the long-term budgeting of the school.”

Kevin Heritage adds that teaching staff have commented positively on the upgrade. “A number of studies demonstrate the importance of good lighting for student performance, and for us it stands to reason that the excellent illumination levels, pleasant daylight colour and uniformity of the new lighting has improved the learning environment.”

Final word goes to Raj Gunasekaran, who helped plant the seed of the entire project in the minds of the school staff. “The Energys/Utility Rentals scheme has brought obvious and immediate advantages to Wheatley Park, which is terrific news,” he says. “With many other projects currently in progress funded by the scheme, numerous other schools are set to experience similar benefits from new LED lighting fit-outs in the months and years ahead.”

Looking for more information on lighting efficiency for schools? Don’t hesitate to contact us here for help and advice on energy saving ideas and how you can upgrade your school lighting.