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Concerns over energy efficiency linger

A new report suggests that confidence in the energy efficiency sector has hit an all-time low, with research showing that many companies are failing to make the business case for improvements.

A new report suggests that confidence in the energy efficiency sector has hit an all-time low, with research showing that many companies are failing to make the business case for improvements.

According to the latest quarterly Energy Efficiency Trends Report, compiled by energy analysts, EEVS, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance, high efficiency lighting remains by far the most popular energy efficiency measure for UK businesses.

However, the number of businesses making energy efficiency improvements in general has dropped to its lowest level for a year, despite a record-breaking surge in the last quarter of 2015. 

In response, supplier confidence in the energy efficiency sector has hit an all-time low, with low customer demand the main concern.

Crisis of confidence

The findings support recent research from the Carbon Trust, which found that there was a growing crisis of confidence in the energy or emissions saving credentials of products, particularly following high-profile cases in the media such as the Volkswagen car emissions scandal.

According to a separate survey of over 2,100 businesses by the British Chambers of Commerce and British Gas, many companies believe the savings on offer from energy efficiency improvements do not ‘stack up’ in the current climate. 

Mike Spicer, director of research and economics at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “For many businesses, the savings on offer are too marginal and as the economy is softening, other investments are taking priority. 

“They are aware of the benefits, they just don’t feel that the economics stack up for them. It is clear that more must be done to encourage these measures.”

When asked what type of support could help, over half of respondents called for grants or tax breaks for energy saving products. 

Landlords

In addition, many businesses did not feel that they could improve their energy efficiency because they do not own their premises.

However, companies that rent their property may soon benefit from regulations that require commercial landlords to bring their buildings up to a minimum Energy Performance Certificate rating of ‘E’ in England and Wales by April 2018. 

The regulations could affect up to 80,000 commercial properties and force thousands of landlords to invest in energy efficiency measures. 

Available support

The British Chambers of Commerce report suggests that businesses that own their properties should consider getting advice to prioritise their actions to see the best possible return.

Grants for energy efficiency measures are also currently available to SMEs from the Carbon Trust, alongside the Energy Technology List (ETL), an independently assessed list of energy saving technologies that can be used to inform procurement.

Overall, confidence in energy efficiency seems to be higher in SMEs. According to research from the European Commission published in 2015, energy efficiency is likely to become the most common means of cutting costs for SMEs in Europe over the next two years.

A useful guide to energy efficiency for SMEs is available here