A new report from the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) finds that energy efficiency measures boost the UK economy by £37 billion each year and does the work of 14 power stations.
The industry body, formerly the Combined Heat and Power Association (CHPA), has been rebranded to promote the collective role of decentralised energy generation and demand reduction and response technologies to the UK economy.
Its new report, Invisible Energy: the Hidden Benefits of the Demand Side, shows that, despite often being overlooked in favour of improvements to energy supply, demand-side efficiency measures save businesses and consumers £37.2 billion each year.
According to the report, the energy intensity of UK industry has almost halved in the last 30 years, meaning twice as much can be produced now as in 1980, with the same amount of energy.
The introduction of more efficient technologies over this period has saved energy capacity equivalent to 14 power stations, over half of the UK’s current generating capacity.
Notably, these advancements have barely scratched the surface of the UK’s energy efficiency opportunity, with the report noting that for every 16 units of energy currently delivered to homes and businesses, 84 units are wasted in the process due to inefficient infrastructure.
Tim Rotheray, director of ADE, said: “Cutting energy waste using demand-side services delivers economy-wide benefits: supporting 136,000 jobs, cutting carbon emissions by 462 million tonnes a year, and reducing our dependence on imported energy by two thirds.
“These investments are distributed and often unseen but taken together have a huge impact on the UK economy.
Highlighting the “substantial contribution” that individual actions by businesses and homes can make, Rotheray added: “With a clear, simple policy approach that values these smaller contributions, demand side services can help consumers do even more to cut waste, improve competitiveness and reduce emissions.
“By 2020, we could save consumers a further £5.6 billion and make the UK a more attractive place to do business.”
Opportunity for SMEs
The report estimates that the total missed cost savings opportunity for SMEs could be as much as £2.6 billion each year. A more detailed analysis of this report will be covered in the next issue of Green Intelligence.