The Government has produced its Clean Growth Strategy to signpost how the UK will grow its economy in a green way and not at the expense of our environment. This strategy continues on the path set by the Climate Change Act of 2008 and is strong on aspiration and high level policy.
Unfortunately, the Government does not produce all the carbon that it seeks to control through its policies and the second policy (of fifty overall) puts businesses firmly in the frame. All business must improve their energy productivity by at least 20% by 2030. This is regardless of how big or small they become over the next 12 years, or on how cheap or expensive energy prices may become.
EvoEnergy have been helping businesses reduce their carbon footprints for over ten years giving the following advice to those who are keen to start this journey:
- Start early – becoming a sustainable business takes time and effort. Changing employees’, customers’ and suppliers’ behaviours takes leadership and time. The EU’s guide to a low carbon economy recognises that early action saves costs later, and that inaction will demand drastic measures are taken later, when it will be more difficult to bring our stakeholders with us.
- Pick the low hanging fruit early to demonstrate your company’s commitment to a sustainable future. These will include LED lighting, solar PV and upgrading your building insulation and air-tightness are all effective investments with realistic paybacks.
- Align your sustainability strategy with your business strategy. This makes selling a sustainable action plan easier within your business and demonstrates a commitment to customers and employees who are increasingly aware of the importance of these issues.
- The advertised 20% is probably not the end of the matter for business. The independent Committee on Climate Change has pointed out that if all the policies in this strategy are followed then the UK will still miss its targets in the next two carbon budgets. The risk is that UK business will be asked to do more, not less.
- It is not always possible to connect a solar installation to the grid and EvoEnergy advises an early approach to the District Network Operator to secure the local available capacity. This will ensure your ability to reduce your costs and meet the 20% before others in the local network.
- The feed-in-tariff is due for abolition for new connections in April 2019. Those who wish to avail themselves of this subsidy need to act fast as it can take months to install and commission a large installation. EvoEnergy are not anticipating the customary drop in solar panel prices after the feed-in-tariff is withdrawn and so the financial argument for solar will become more difficult.
- Solar arrays and battery installations are not all about a financial return. EvoEnergy believes that these installations are approved by customers, who recognise an energy resilience in their suppliers, by employees who are proud that their company is doing its bit and by potential younger employees who believe that it is the responsibility of business to play its part in bringing a stop to the rise in global temperatures, particularly having played such a part in creating the problem.
The Government’s strategy talks of supporting business to make the necessary changes. I can not say whether this is with a carrot or stick, but knowing how much discretionary cash the Government has to spend on supporting industry I suspect the latter. The sooner you reduce your footprint the sooner your business will make your contribution to saving the planet and the less energy risks you will suffer.
By Mark Wakeford, MD of EvoEnergy