It’s very rare for me to publicly share what I do for a living. It’s not because I’m embarrassed—quite the opposite actually. It’s more that when people get word that your work involves the energy sector, one of two responses can almost be guaranteed: a bit of insight about their current household supplier or, more than often, eyes starting to glaze over. I don’t take it personally, it’s just something which is typically beyond the concern of senior businesspeople, although attention often picks up when the conversation turns toward an upcoming deadline which their companies will soon be directly affected by.
The Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) is approaching the Phase 2 submission deadline on December 5—mandating that large organisations (over 250 employees or turnover of more than €250 million) undertake comprehensive assessments of energy usage and energy efficiency opportunities at least once every four years.
Many companies of this scale will have already completed audits for Phase 1, which closed in 2016. But as the legislation was still in its infancy, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy took somewhat of a relaxed approach around meeting the deadline—now warning of fines of up to £50,000 if the December target is missed.
Unfortunately, a lot of the businesses which have completed the laborious process of measuring their total energy consumption and identifying options for savings have done little to implement the recommendations—viewing the overall process as more of a box-ticking exercise, rather than taking advantage of an average cost decrease of 20%.
It’s quite deflating to see companies of this scale choosing to ignore the recommendations presented, especially when they’re overlooking not only the possible monetary savings, but also the reduction in overall energy usage.
Failure to act on a report is a real missed opportunity, especially when you take into account the amount of work it takes to complete the internal energy assessment—which could be easily offset by the reduction in utility expenditure.
But upon closer analysis, it is sometimes obvious why these reports spend the rest of their lives gathering dust.
When it comes to potential efficiency savings on offer, many reports suggest changes which are simply unaffordable, overly complicated or too slow to generate return—deterring businesses from enacting any of the guidance.
It is unlikely that a multi-site manufacturer is going to install wind turbines at each of their factories—but some quick adjustments to boiler controls, pipework insulation and a switch to LED lighting can be much more attainable whilst leading to noticeable savings.
Equally, is a hotel group really going to erect a wind turbine in front of their 4-star property when they could instead adjust the controls on internal freezers or look at how the swimming pools are heated?
Recommendations must be achievable as opposed to ‘pie in the sky’ proposals—with feasible changes making an immediate and lasting impact to both costs and emissions output.
Still unsure of the procedure, some firms are having to cobble together last-minute audits by trawling through reams of historic data, rather than collating information on a month-by-month basis. Again, this only adds to the process’s overall pressures while negating its effectiveness.
With ESOS Phase 3 commencing just after Christmas, affected businesses should really be taking advantage of the plethora of detailed suggestions generated from the initiative which will make real changes to outgoings and impact. They will reap the rewards and so will the environment.