Paying our way: Carbon reporting during lockdown

A spike in people working from home has meant huge savings on building costs for many businesses. However, new calls for carbon reporting to account for the increase in domestic emissions could catch business leaders by surprise.

Public cost, private loss

Due to new and continued lockdown restrictions, 60% of the UK workforce is now performing their roles from home. As a result, commercial enterprises are making significant savings in building utility usage, especially on heating, cooling, and lighting.

Unfortunately, the flip side of that coin is that their employees are now footing larger bills at home. In fact, due to a combination of increased home occupation, and dropping temperatures, energy bills across the country are expected to rise dramatically this winter.

“Energyhelpline.com has predicted a full-time working household will spend an extra £107 on energy due to increased working from home, so it’s important that consumers are on the lowest energy tariff before the cold weather starts to bite.”

Victoria Arrington, spokesperson for Energy Helpline

A recent Carbon Trust report shows that more than 70% of businesses believe that the coronavirus pandemic will lead to a greater emphasis on sustainability initiatives. While corporate social responsibility is clearly increasing, the effect of lockdown on carbon emissions is unprecedented and therefore raises some questions.

As Rishi Sunak’s Green Homes Grant has demonstrated, the energy efficiency of UK housing is sorely lacking. However, there have been new calls for corporate carbon reporting that accounts for the emissions of those working at home. This could force businesses to pick up the tab.

“The coronavirus changes the way we work, so naturally it changes the way companies impact the climate… Firms across the UK must now adjust to this, and we must change the rules on how we report company emissions.”

Amit Gudka, Bulb

Log showing ants carrying leaves

Carbon reporting: Over or under

Bulb released a warning to businesses back in June, stating that nearly half a million tonnes of CO2 equivalent may go unreported due to employees working from home.

Ecoact has released a free-source white paper containing formulae for calculating the relative carbon emissions of homeworking. However, this is based on the average expense calculation from Ofgem findings over the past two years.

The problem is that they do not account for the wild variations between corporate and domestic building energy efficiency. As such, they provide an incomplete picture of actual commercial energy usage. The danger is that they may misplace responsibility for some of its costs.

Since the conditions of lockdown are so novel, legislation governing these missing carbon emissions has yet emerged. Will the Climate Change Levy (CCL) take notice for example?

The answer, for now, is unclear. What is obvious though is that commercial firms are on borrowed time to establish a clear data set that can protect them from overpaying for inefficiency that isn’t their responsibility.

The combination of smart metres and a comprehensive invoicing history would be one way to ensure such security. Equipped with this data, businesses could calculate the relative difference in energy consumption pre and post lockdown conditions.

Once a record is established, businesses can then make a case for not paying beyond their normal emissions costs.

Carbon reporting with EIC

EIC provides a comprehensive energy management service that includes Metering and Invoice Validation solutions. Our sub-metering technology allows you to create dynamic and comprehensive reports of your current consumption patterns.

These reports provide a comparative baseline to measure your historic consumption against. Our team can then analyse and validate your records, carrying out over 200 energy checks to guarantee accuracy.

A final word on the CCL, while mandates surrounding work from home emissions remain vague, the CCA still presents an opportunity to save on your own emissions. However, the deadline for new applications is closing fast, and some trade associations require submissions up to four weeks in advance.

Fortunately, EIC also specialises in climate legislation like the CCA and can provide end-to-end guidance and support from the initial submission to evidence collection.

To find out which of these services you can benefit from, get in touch.

 

Challenging Winter Ahead for Triad Season

Winter is fast approaching and the Triad season will soon begin. This is an important time for many large UK consumers as they seek to lower transmission costs by reducing demand during potential Triad periods. Triads are three half-hour periods with the highest electricity demand between the start of November and the end of February and each Triad must be separated by at least 10 clear days. This means consecutive days of high demand won’t result in multiple Triads.

If your electricity contract allows it then reducing your demand at these specific points will result in lower transmission charges. However, knowing when Triads occur is a complex business so, to help our clients, EIC provides a Triad Alert service. We have successfully forecast each of the three Triad periods for the last 8 years, saving customers millions of pounds in transmission charges.

Pandemic continues to suppress demand

Winter peak demand is at its lowest point since 1992/93 and is now 14 GW (~24%) lower than the peak of 2010/11. There are a number of factors that have contributed to the fall in peak demand over the past decade. These include improvements to the energy efficiency of appliances, an increase in LED lighting and a rise in embedded generation.

However, in 2020 we can add another significant contributor to demand reduction. The coronavirus pandemic has led to a dramatic fall in peak demand since mid-March. Demand has increased since lockdown ended but is still lower than previous years.

National Grid are currently forecasting peak demand over the Triad period to be around 43-44 GW, slightly lower than last winter’s peak of 45 GW. The winter demand forecast looks to be flatter than previous years, making predicting when Triads will fall far more challenging. It is therefore important to receive Triad alerts from a trusted and reliable source such as EIC.

EIC’s record of Triad season success

EIC has an in-house model which has successfully forecast every triad period for the last eight years. We issue clients with comprehensive alerts advising them when a Triad is forecast, so they can reduce consumption accordingly.

Our Triad Alert Service forecasts the likelihood of any particular day being a Triad and sends alerts before 10am. Businesses can then take action to avoid high usage during these periods, while minimising disruption to everyday activity. We also monitor the market throughout the day and send out an afternoon alert in the event of significant change. The daily report can also help you plan ahead with an overview of the next 14 days alongside a long-term winter outlook.

Calling daily alerts would generate a 100% success rate, however this could have a negative impact on our clients. Organisations would incur major damage to revenues if required to turn down their production each day for 4 months ‘just in case’ and at EIC our aim is to provide as few alerts as possible. Over the 2019/20 Triad period we called just 13 alerts while the average supplier issued over 20.

Triads granted extra year

In December 2019, Ofgem published their final decision on the Targeted Charging Review (TCR). The main outcome of this decision is that, from April 2021, the residual part of transmission charges will be levied in the form of fixed charges for all households and businesses. However, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic Ofgem has decided to delay this by a year. This provides an extra opportunity for consumers to benefit from Triad avoidance before TCR changes arrive in April 2022.

With the TCR, Ofgem aims to introduce a charge it considers fair to all consumers, not just those able to reduce during peak periods. For the majority of consumers these changes will lead to a reduction in transmission costs. However, for those who are currently taking Triad avoidance action it is likely that their future costs will rise.

How we can help with Triad season

We have helped hundreds of clients avoid these transmission costs by providing them with the tools needed, giving EIC an enviable track record in Triad prediction.

Last year, our customers cut demand by an average of 41% compared to standard winter peak-period half-hour consumption – resulting in significant cost savings. Clients who responded to our Triad Alerts, saved on average £180,000. Our best result last winter saw a client saving nearly £1 million in TNUoS charges.

The Triad season starts on 1 November. Find out more about our Triad Alert service.

Can a flexible energy system lead us to net zero?

A recent project launched by Carbon Trust and Imperial College will explore the potential for a flexible energy system and its future role in decarbonisation. EIC looks at what a flexible energy system is and how it can reduce the cost of reaching net zero carbon emissions in the UK by 2050.

What is a flexible energy system?

New technology has the potential to turn our passive energy system into a smarter, more sustainable one in the very near future. This means modifying generation and/or consumption patterns in reaction to change in demand or price.

There are three main ways to achieve flexibility in the energy system:

  • Interconnection: purchasing power from neighbouring markets at times of peak demand.
  • Storage: storing excess energy and using it at times of peak demand.
  • Flexibility on the demand side: consumers cut their discretionary power use at times of peak demand for financial incentive.

Until now, flexibility in the energy industry has typically been provided on the supply-side. Now it’s becoming clear that demand flexibility will be crucial for balancing the system in order to reduce costs and decrease carbon emissions. With smart meters that can reduce consumption at peak times and financial incentives, demand flexibility could be an easy and rewarding energy option for consumers and energy operators alike. A report from the National Infrastructure Commission says that £200 million a year could be shaved off the UK’s grid operating costs if just 5% of the current peak demand were met through demand-side solutions.

There are also smaller scale assets that could prove just as effective at balancing the grid, like distributed energy resources (DERs) such as nearby or on-site solar panels, wind turbines, heat pumps or batteries. By reducing demand on the system, there’s less reliance on non-sustainable energy sources during peak demand periods. These smart solutions are becoming increasingly cost effective and in-demand, evidenced by their sustained fall in price and rising investment interest.

Why the UK should lead the world in smart power

Greener policies have seen increased support in recent years, with an emphasis on renewable energy. A strategy set out in another NIC report for 2020 – 2050 recommended 50% of all generation should be supplied by renewable power by 2030, and an entirely zero-carbon electricity supply by 2050.

The question is, how can this level of renewable integration be implemented in a consistent and cost-effective way?

One of the current issues with renewable generation is it is fairly inflexible, so finding more flexibility through demand, interconnection, and storage is key. It could also be the most cost-efficient way to reach net zero. According to an NIC report, Smart Power, a more flexible power system could save consumers as much as £8 billion a year by 2030.

Finding flexibility with EIC

Achieving more flexibility in the energy system is an integral part of EIC’s client commitment. Through a variety of services, including flexible procurement, smart metering, and many years of experience working with carbon monitoring and compliance, EIC goes to great lengths to offer consumers freedom and flexibility. Our goal is to find the bespoke energy package that best suits your business or property, while simultaneously lowering your costs and carbon emissions.

Find out more about our energy management services.

 

LED lighting: Reducing costs and carbon at the same time

The past decade in carbon savings has been awash with success stories surrounding the installation of LED lighting systems. EIC has summarised a few public sector examples below and guidance on how your properties could benefit from a lighting upgrade.

Success in the NHS

A UK NHS trust recently made facility management news as it implemented a comprehensive upgrade to its lighting systems. Undertaking a site-wide LED installation means that the trust will now enjoy savings in excess of £180,000 annually. Provided these savings remain consistent, the project will have paid for itself within six years.

The gains of the forward-thinking trust are not only measured in pounds and pence; the switch to highly efficient LED lighting, whose lifespan is more than quadruple that of its fluorescent counterparts, also means reduced maintenance as well as a significantly diminished carbon footprint.

Capital gives green light for LEDs

Earlier this year, the city of London underwent a large-scale retrofit of over 8,000 traffic signals, regulatory box signs and push buttons. Upgrading these sites to LED lighting is expected to deliver energy and cost savings of 75% for Transport for London.

“It’s making our infrastructure greener, more sustainable and cheaper to run and not only that but as LEDs are more visible it is making our roads safer…”

– Glynn Barton, TfL’s Director of Network Management

This conversion echoes another 2018 retrofit that saw 25,000 London signals at 900 sites upgraded with similar technology.

Hertfordshire County Council is taking this attitude a step further and has pledged to replace all the street lighting in its seat with LED illumination. The project reached its final stage earlier this year and the council expect it to reduce street lighting CO2 emissions by more than half. In material terms, this equates to 12,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide and £5m saved for the residents of Hertfordshire.

The Power of LED

The commercial picture

The benefits of LEDs are not just public sector, businesses can also make significant savings with this technology. Consider that a 20% reduction in energy costs can have the equivalent economic effect of a 5% increase in sales.

The difference with an LED installation is that it is permanent, and not subject to market conditions.

Traditional lighting actually wastes 95% of the energy it uses on the heat it produces. Since it operates at low temperatures, LED lighting reduces this waste by 90%. This also makes LED a much safer option if the lighting is located near human activity.

By effectively removing this heat source, temperature control systems like air conditioning will operate with greater efficiency. As EIC’s TM44 blog demonstrates, this too can equate to significant savings.

Light the halls

While the office Christmas party may be cancelled this year, it’s worth mentioning the seasonal savings potential of LEDs.

Granted, decorative lighting is not a year-round expense, but incandescent bulbs can run up quite a bill, especially for smaller retail businesses.

Fortunately holiday lights are now also available as LEDs, with several benefits included. Aside from the aforementioned savings, LED lighting is much more durable as well. Epoxy is used in place of glass to create their lenses, so they are highly resistant to breakage.

Bulbs last dozens of holiday seasons before needing replacement and low voltage requirements means many can share a single outlet.

EIC’s Lighting Solutions, including complimentary lighting control systems, has helped dozens of organisations. These controls include movement sensors, time clocks and light sensors which can all support an LED upgrade in reducing costs and CO2 footprint.

The EIC service includes initial surveys to establish the unique needs of a site, later formulating a bespoke proposal. Once installation is complete, EIC will also provide supplementary training to teams within an enterprise to ensure the new equipment is used as effectively as possible.

A full breakdown of this service is available by contacting the EIC team here.

 

Explaining TM44 Inspections: The what, who, when and why

EIC explores the purpose of TM44 inspections, why your organisation might need one and how EIC can help you get one.

 

What is TM44?

TM44 is the accepted guidance for the UK for judging the efficiency of air-conditioning units. The key role of the guidance is to support inspections to comply with the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). However, they can provide assistance to any building owner or manager desiring further data on the efficiency of their air-conditioning system. The EPBD1 was initiated in 2003 and replaced a decade later by a recast Directive2.

The legislation required that European members devise ‘measures to establish a regular inspection of air-conditioning systems of an effective rated output of more than 12 kW’.

 

Who needs a TM44?

Not all air-conditioning systems are equal; TM44 focuses on those that use refrigerants for cooling, and parts of other cooling methods such as cooled decks/ceiling slabs or those using aquifers for cooling.

The 12kW figure is a good rule of thumb, making any building owner or manager with a system of that scale subject to TM44. It is important to note that this applies to single large-scale units with an output of 12kW and to individual units that together reach or exceed 12kW.

When is a TM44 necessary?

Inspections timings are relevant here since each mandatory inspection must take place within five years of the previous one. According to TM44 guidance, the initial inspection must satisfy the following criteria:

  • Any system that began service on or after 1st January 2008, must have undergone an initial inspection within five years of the date service began.
  • Systems whose output exceeds 250kW must have undergone inspection no later than 4th January 2009.
  • Systems with a service start date prior to 1st January 2008 and whose output exceeds 12kW must have received inspection by 4th January 2011.

From 6 April 2012, all TM44 air-conditioning inspection reports have been required to be lodged on the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government Energy Performance of Buildings Register where a report and certificate are generated. Accredited assessors and members of the public may access this site to view and download their TM44 certificates and reports.

 

Why is TM44 important?

There are several benefits to having a TM44 inspection. Firstly, a company can avoid penalties for non-compliance. These penalties are costly, inviting a £300 fine per offence – meaning either a non-complying building or multiple units inside a single structure whose combined output is more than 12kW, and if an organisation fails to supply a copy of their inspection report within seven days of request by an enforcement authority, they can incur an additional fixed penalty of £200 per building or unit. Enforcement Officers can check at any time whether a building or unit is compliant.

TM44 is an excellent data gathering opportunity about a major source of utility costs, offering insight on how to:

  • Improve efficiency
  • Reduce electricity consumption
  • Decrease operating costs
  • Diminish carbon emissions
  • Reduce maintenance needs
  • Improve controls and settings
  • Identify technical flaws

The report will also highlight opportunities such as:

  • Improvement to operation
  • Improvements to replace less efficient systems
  • Replacement of oversized systems (scale of the system relative to cooling load)

When viewed with these gains in mind, TM44 can be thought of a necessary process that yields significant benefits down the line.

 

Securing your TM44 with EIC

The EIC team were among the first to receive UK accreditation for the delivery of airconditioning inspections and actively follow any legislative changes so they can keep businesses ahead of the game.

The team can also provide Wrap Reports as standard, offering an overview of essential report findings including reference pictures, additional relevant data and a complete asset list of equipment found.

Alongside this extensive experience, clients will receive additional complimentary intelligence in other areas of sustainable improvement. EIC’s expertise in other fields like Energy Contract Procurement and Intelligent Building Management will position organisations to undertake other sustainable development projects seamlessly, with guidance and security.

For a full breakdown of EIC’s compliance services, and how your organisation can acquire TM44 Certification, get in touch with the EIC team here.

 

1(2002/91/EC)

2(2010/31/EU)

3(Statutory instrument 2012 N0 3118)

 

 

Simplifying Display Energy Certificates

EIC discusses the purpose behind DECs, the benefits they offer and how the EIC carbon team can help you secure one.

What is a DEC?

Display Energy Certificates (DEC) have been a required document in public buildings since 2012. While some structures are exempt, those with floor space of less than 250m2, larger buildings fitting certain criteria must comply. These are properties that are occupied by a public authority and frequently visited by the public.

The certificate summarises the energy performance of the building based on criteria known to affect energy demand and usage. These criteria include the type of building under assessment, its total floor area and fuel use.

Accreditors then measure this data against specific benchmarks to determine the building’s overall energy performance. Newer buildings are more likely to have consolidated record-keeping on a building and their HVAC. However, older properties may need to collate this data from various departments and archives.

Since data might be stored in a multitude of locations and formats, this process can be complex and time-consuming. However, the more intelligence that can be sought, the more valuable the DEC becomes in its ability to help identify sources of energy waste.

Looking at trees through glasses held away from faceWhat are the benefits?

The primary benefit of a DEC is to provide a litmus test for the current energy efficiency of a building. This data can then guide improvement strategies for the structure’s utility usage, thereby reducing their demand and subsequent cost. Only accredited assessors are qualified to analyse and deliver DECs. Part of their service is identifying opportunities for improvement and providing guidance on how to implement these improvements as well.

DECs also communicate your commitment to carbon reduction to visitors, due to the requirement to display them prominently. As consumers become more aware of the effect of their spending habits on the environment, it will dictate the businesses they are willing to interact with. A DEC demonstrates dedication to reduce to or maintain an efficient rating for the building.

Do you need a DEC?

If you are a public authority receiving frequent public visitation, with usable floor space in excess of 250m2, then you will need to display a DEC. The validity period of these certificates does vary depending on building size. The DEC of buildings between 250m2 -1000m2  remains valid for 10 years. However, buildings larger than 1000m2 must renew every year.

Those in need of a DEC or those looking to renew would benefit from shopping around. Ideally looking for a compliance specialist that can offer them the most value with their service.

EIC offers an end-to-end DEC acquisition, starting with a comprehensive site survey if a lack of available data necessitates it. A copy of the accreditation documents will be forwarded to your organisation once the process is complete.

The EIC team pride themselves on providing relief from the complex process of accreditation, allowing business leaders to focus on their own clients and services. To date, EIC has produced over 5,000 DECs and currently manages the renewal process for over 600 sites.

Each of EIC’s EPBD delivery team, have worked within the schemes since their inception, thereby bringing trusted and reliable expertise to your project.

The EIC carbon team provides various compliance services including major carbon-legislative guidance and all EPBD services (EPCs, DECs, TM44). Since these accreditations work in tandem, and share data sets, getting them under one roof can save you some time. While each of these carbon services can be found on EIC’s trusted compliance page, those seeking the DEC offering specifically can find it here.

 

CCA Deadline Approaching: 30th November

The CCA applications deadline draws close and EIC explores the benefits of compliance and why firms should submit their application as soon as they can.

The two-minute warning

After half a year in lockdown energy professionals could be forgiven for falling out of touch with current events. Isolation has left many of us with that post-Christmas, pre-new year feeling of not knowing our days and weeks apart.

That is why EIC has taken the time to put together a small reminder of the now-imminent CCA (Climate Change Agreements) deadline and why it is worth paying attention to.

Climate Change Agreements allow energy-intensive firms to receive reductions on their Climate Change Levy (CCL) obligations, in return for abiding by set energy efficiency targets.

The government extended the CCA for a further two years back in June. Which gives eligible organisations as much as a 92% reduction – on electricity, and up to 83% on gas from payment of the CCL (Climate Change Levy).

The scheme is as potent as it is ambitious. The latest extension alone offers the entire UK business sector approximately £300m per annum in savings.

The scheme is open to new entrants for the first time since 2018 and presents an unequalled opportunity for energy-related savings. However, the time is drawing near to apply for the extension to the scheme, with some trade associations requiring submission up to 4 weeks beforehand.

In addition to this added processing period, the process of assuring compliance can often be complex and long-winded. This latest target carries several charges including an increase in both buy-out prices as well as the financial penalty price for target period 5.

A helping hand

Energy professionals who are now trying to wade against the current of recession to stay afloat may simply not have the time or capacity to undertake the CCA process – thereby risking missing out on this golden opportunity.

EIC demystifies this process, adopting a 360 degree view, assessing the benefits to your organisation and advising of scheme’s requirements. EIC can fully manage the data and reporting requirements of the CCA process, alleviating the burden on your resource, whilst receiving the benefits available. To get started on the CCA compliance process, your organisation can find EIC’s full carbon offering here.

Should SMEs conduct an energy audit?

EIC explores the benefits that firms can reap from conducting an energy audit and how to maximise the value of its findings.

Information is power

Energy audits provide firms with a clearer picture of their energy consumption patterns. Also, they can highlight existing points of weakness where wastage may be occurring as well as provide a foundation of knowledge for negotiating new energy procurement contracts.

As we approach the 2050 net-zero deadline, clarity surrounding energy usage – the major driver behind office-based carbon emissions – will become increasingly valuable.

Small to medium enterprises in particular stand to benefit greatly from the help audits can provide. Especially in navigating information barriers that conceal opportunities to improve their energy efficiency.

While a review of an organisations energy portfolio can seem daunting, technology can help lighten the load. Smart meters can keep an ongoing, up-to-date record of energy usage across an entire site.

Employing one of these devices essentially automates the local data-finding necessary to perform an effective audit. Given how vulnerable long-term metering is to human error, this makes their installation a wise first step in the process.

Metering alone can provide average energy savings of 10% and comprehensive sub-metering can raise these savings by a further 30% according to the Carbon Trust.

An on-site walk around compliments the auditing process since it can identify sources of inefficiency missed by meter readings. Old equipment in need of replacement is one common example. Another being wholesale temperature regulation of buildings since this often does not reflect actual occupancy levels in individual rooms.

The fruits of an energy audit

mixed fruitWith the audit complete, realistic energy efficiency targets become foreseeable and have a baseline for comparison of progress. Such a foundation is crucial for effective engagement with carbon compliance schemes like SECR and CCA.

Firms might follow up by installing site-wide building management systems that can provide further clarity on utility consumption.

Such a system can remotely govern space occupancy, dynamic temperature regulation and air quality from a single platform. The latter of these also affects the health and productivity of those within. Thus, intelligent air quality management can represent a twofold investment.

EIC understands the potential of informed utility management, hence why it provides all these services under a single banner.

Whether it be by supporting data collation with expert metering guidance or exploiting the discoveries that an audit yields with a single-platform building management system, EIC can provide the technical expertise needed for enterprises to maximise the benefit of an energy audit.

 

The end of fixed term energy contracts?

EIC expands on recent comments from industry professionals concerning the viability of fixed-term energy contracts in an uncertain future.

The floodgates open

The impact of COVID-19 has been felt at all levels of commerce, whether it be the radical transition to remote working or exposing the fragility of the fossil fuel sector.

Many organisations have recognised the opportunity that remote communications technology like Zoom and Skype have presented. Building costs account for a huge portion of the average firms outgoings and by reducing the need for space, these costs can shrink as well.

‘The new normal’ it seems could be a boon for all businesses in terms of operation costs, not to mention time saved for their employees. However, as with any paradigm shift, this transition has a great deal of uncertainty attached to it.

A major challenge facing energy suppliers will be in predicting consumption patterns as more people start to work from home. Unpredictable fluctuation will make it more difficult for suppliers to mitigate risk on fixed term contracts. As a result, they will become greatly exposed to imbalance charges and ‘Take-or-pay’ penalties embedded in most standard fixed contracts.

Fixed vs flexible contracts

As a means to protect against these volatile shifts in the country’s energy demand, energy suppliers will increase the price of fixed energy contracts. Doing so will protect against uncertain consumption patterns. Suppliers may also begin to leverage the terms within those contracts to the cost of the firms they are supplying.

Chris Hurcombe, CEO of Catalyst Commercial Services, believes fixed-price contracts may ultimately disappear as suppliers struggle to predict consumption patterns and attempt to insulate themselves from risk.

Post-Covid, there are too many unknowns for suppliers to price them accurately, so they are doing everything possible to de-risk contracts. Credit requirements are going up and some suppliers are not pricing for certain industries without an upfront deposit or a significant price premium…”

Chris Hurcombe, CEO of Catalyst Commercial Services

Currently, fixed-price contracts levy a 10% price premium compared to their flexible counterparts. Additionally, Hurcombe has predicted a 15-17% rise in 2021,  continuing to 20% the following year.

Non-commodity costs, expected to climb in the near future, now represent the lion’s share of energy bills. As such, they represent the largest risk factor for end-users/client procurement budgets. These ‘fixed’ contracts, which allow suppliers to pass through additional energy charges, may hold a costly surprise for the firms taking part.

ballerina lying on grass doing the splits

Help on the inside

Fortunately, flexible contracts, which EIC specialises in procuring, offer means to reduce or avoid some of these charges. They also afford adaptability in a changing commercial landscape. As volume consumption forecast becomes difficult and budget certainty key for the survival of companies, flexibility will become crucial.

The UK commercial and industrial sectors consume 185TWh annually, approximately £27bn worth, so the potential savings here are gargantuan. Savings of such magnitude can’t be ignored in an economy approaching its deepest recession since 2008’s financial crisis.

EIC can secure you a flexible energy contract to take advantage of these savings. The key markers that EIC looks for when engaging suppliers include contract features and functionality, transparency around price-fixing mechanism and competitiveness of the supplier’s account management fee.

Using these criteria means EIC can effectively guide your market position despite the fluctuations that a post-COVID future promises.

Existing EIC clients were collectively under budget to the tune of £65.7m between 2014 and 2018 for electricity and gas. One pharmaceutical client enjoyed 78% in annual savings over a 36 month period.

Find out more about how to recruit EIC’s expertise into your negotiations.

 

The Hydrogen Age

EIC explores the potential of Hydrogen fuel to decarbonise the UK, its domestic supporters and success it has already enjoyed in the EU.

Hydrogen showing carbon the door

In the wake of COVID-19, economic recovery is now a top priority for the UK government. However, Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have both staked their flag in making sure it is a ‘green’ economic recovery. As such, industry leaders – particularly within the energy sector – have reopened the conversation on the role of hydrogen in reaching net zero.

The CCC (Committee on Climate Change) published a report in 2018 summarising its recommendations for a UK hydrogen strategy. The hope is to utilise Hydrogen in the UK’s heating systems, specifically by blending it with natural gas, to reduce its carbon footprint.

UK buildings account for 40% of its energy consumption and 70% of industrial building energy is used on space heating and cooling. With these figures in mind, hydrogen’s value is clear to see provided it can get off the ground.

Unfortunately, there are several roadblocks to hydrogen use on a mass scale. The biggest of these is that it would require an infrastructural overall of current heating systems. Blended gas requires plastic pipes while the vast majority of those in the UK are iron.

In addition, the production of hydrogen fuel is highly carbon-intensive. Fortunately, this embedded carbon can be offset by CCS (carbon capture and storage) technology into its production.

However, these are costly caveats to making hydrogen a viable fuel replacement. Naturally, there are concerns that the government may opt for cheaper, quicker progress that, ironically, may prove unsustainable.

 “On the one hand, we need to put money where it has an immediate economic impact and in the most affected sectors. On the other, we need to keep in mind the long-term benefits of making our economy more resilient.”

Kadri Simson, European Commissioner for energy

Forest and low cloudsPrivate sector rescue

The EU Commission announced in June that it would provide €750 billion for its green recovery plan, reserving €1 billion for R&D into green hydrogen. Simson has stated that hydrogen has the potential to capture 10-16% of the EU’s energy market by 2050.

Following the EU’s lead, industry leaders in the UK approached the government and questioned the absence of hydrogen in both the spring budget COVID recovery plan.

Last month, a letter from the chiefs of four major unions implored the government to move forward on hydrogen development. The leaders of GMB, Prospect, Unison and Unite cited, in the letter, the massive reductions this could offer in the heat, transport and heavy industry sectors. Of course, the development of any new technology sector would also create thousands of jobs.

However, the letter was only one component of the “Hydrogen Strategy Now” campaign led by firms like EDF and Siemens. These companies, along with others supporting the campaign, have stated intentions to invest £1.5bn into hydrogen development.

The government must now seize the initiative and provide the necessary funding and support to make hydrogen happen. Firms that desire to adopt a long-term view of their energy and heat use might benefit from EICs services.

EIC’s combined heat and power solution have saved businesses up to 40% on energy costs. EIC can also provide a  carbon management team able to deliver a comprehensive net-zero strategy. Find out more about the services we offer.

 

EPBD: What you need to know

EIC unpacks Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), it’s origins, purpose and how firms can make sure they are compliant.

The Kyoto Protocol

Two years after the 1992 UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), the Kyoto Protocol emerged as an extension to the conventions primary treaty.

The UNFCCC’s objective is to:

“Stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”

The extension took effect in 1997 and was as much political as it was scientific, viewing the climate crisis from a purely mathematical perspective. The consensus was that industrially developed nations were far greater contributors to climate change than rural and agricultural ones.

CO2 emissions would not be divided equally between the committed nations but rather based on their industrial activity. Subsequently, the EU and its member states committed to binding emission reduction targets which remain in effect today.

Following Kyoto, the EU established EPBD in January 2003 to ensure sufficient CO2 reductions from European buildings. The primary objective is to incentivise widespread improvement of their energy efficiency. The beauty of this that its criteria apply more to industrially developed nations due to their carbon intensity.

What legislative requirements are covered by EPBD?

The UK governments interpretation of embedding EPBD recognises 3 streams of certification, required by both the private and public sectors:

  • DECs (Display Energy Certificates) – required by publicly-owned or funded buildings on an annual basis
  • TM44 / Air Conditioning Inspections – required for all buildings with installed comfort cooling
  • EPCs (Energy Performance Certificates) – required for both domestic and non-domestic new builds, majorly refurbished, sold or let out

The certificates are valid for 10 years from issue. EPCs underpin the MEES standard, whereby a building cannot be sold or let with an energy rating below E.

power lines at sunsentBuilding better

As lockdown restrictions ease, and the ‘Build Back Better’ initiative gains momentum, compliance with EPBD will only become more relevant.

The most recent recast of EPBD, in 2010, focuses on new builds and major renovations thereby adopting a long term view of the situation.

EPBD also protects consumers, it requires disclosure of efficiency measures within a property to buyers, to inform them of running costs.

The requirement led to the widespread introduction of Energy Performance Certificates (EPC), one of the major successes of EPBD to date. First introduced in 2007, the UK national database now contains energy performance information on a staggering 40% of homes.

Last year marked the EPBD deadline for all member states to have NZEBs – or Nearly Zero Energy Buildings. The criteria for an NZEB is simply that it has a very high energy performance, made possible by quality insulation and on-site renewable generation.

Since Zero Carbon Homes was scrapped in 2016, EPBD is one of the few legislations that targets the energy performance of buildings.

The fervour in reaching net-zero means that this legislation is here to stay and so firms should be asking how they could ensure they are taking part.

Upgrading for EPBD

Improving the energy performance of a structure needn’t be a complex process, however, it must be an informed one.

EIC’s approach to structural efficiency is twofold, assessing pre-existing assets using integrated metering and monitoring technology. Next, EIC adopts an end-to-end approach, carrying out initial certification, devising and implementing improvements. Finally undertaking a certificate review to demonstrate progress.

Depending on site limitations, EIC can consult on the installation of on-site generation, with a particular focus on solar generation. Thereby lessening a structure’s energy consumption, lowering your utility bills and improving its overall energy profile. View full details of these services, as well as testimonials from past clients.

Alone, together: Mental health during lockdown

EIC looks back on the recent Mental Health Awareness Week UK, this year’s theme of kindness and some of the stories of kindness that have emerged from the energy sector since lockdown began.

Kindness to all

The theme of kindness could not have been more appropriate for this year’s Mental Health Week UK, with so many struggling under the emotional, financial and medical burdens of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown.

Indeed, kindness, solidarity and generosity are things that have been in great demand as a result of the widespread concerns wrought by coronavirus. Despite the added pressure felt simultaneously by the commercial energy sector, it’s proponents have responded with a magnanimity seldom anticipated by their customers.

Orsted

Danish renewables supplier, Orsted, has promised more than £165,000 to various health and charity organisations across the UK to help support them through the crisis, beneficiaries include Guy and St. Thomas’ Hospital and Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Duncan Clark, the supplier’s UK region head, impressed the importance of solidarity between companies and their customers:

“Across the UK, the current situation is having a profound effect on families and communities.. It is at times like these that we must come together to do what we can to support each other.”

Duncan Clark, Orsted

British gas  

Big six supplier British Gas stated their allegiance to customer welfare early on in the lockdown by announcing that vulnerable customers would be issued with 2 weeks of discretionary credit for electricity. The support will be pre-loaded onto keys or cards while gas customers will receive £5 credit, British Gas is also offering a remote version of the same service for those customers with smart meters.

Emergency measures 

Emergency credit limit for gas and electricity has been extended across the board by many major suppliers in the UK,  with E.ON raising the limit tenfold from £5 to £50 and nPower raising emergency credit limits from £7 to £45. 

Hands across the oceans

The trend of solidarity hasn’t stopped in the UK, energy companies across Europe are taking up the cause of customer support during the challenges of COVID-19. Italy was infamous for being one of the worst affected European countries and taken as an omen to be heeded by other EU states, domestic energy giant ENEL has answered with vigour. The supplier has donated €23m to support Italian healthcare professionals by funding hospitals, beds and machinery and president Patrizia Grieco framed this move as an act of duty from ENEL.  

“We are an Italian multinational with strong ties with the territory. It’s natural but also a duty to aid the territories where we operate and the communities we work with every day.”

Meanwhile in France, multinational ENGIE, has also contributed to Italy’s fight against the virus by providing free electricity and technical assistance on the construction of new medical units. 

 

 

A kinder world

The primary beneficiary of the lockdown measures however, might be an unexpected one, with the slowing of economic activity and the subsequent drop in emissions, the planet is receiving a long overdue dose of kindness from our entire species.

COVID-19 may have given us an opportunity to reflect on our current practices as well as a vision of what the world could look like with better, greener behaviour from us. 

EIC are champions of sustainable business practices through an end-to-end approach that can support you from initial procurement of your utilities, through to maximising their efficiency with IoT in order to faster deliver a sustainable commercial culture.

The strides EIC is taking to help the UK build a green commercial sector and reach climate targets are myriad and you can find out how to engage with them on our website.