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. In addition, 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

With 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 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 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

Private 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 percent 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 technological 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 sieze 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 has saved businesses up to 40% on energy costs. EIC can also provide a  carbon management team able to deliver a comprehensive net zero strategy. Full details of these services, as well as others, are on the EIC website.

 

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 the following:

“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 being 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 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.

Building 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 have 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. Full details of these services, as well as testimonials from past clients, can be found on the EIC website.

The green gold rush: CCA extension proposed

EIC explains the government’s proposed extension to the climate change agreements initiative (CCA), the benefits of compliance and how EIC can ensure you qualify.

CCA: How and why

The climate change agreements initiative was established to incentivise the continued and effective implementation of energy efficiency strategies among the most energy intensive industrial sectors.

CCA encourages businesses to streamline their energy usage by offering a 93% reduction on electricity, and a 78% reduction on other fuels accrued as a result of the climate change levy (CCL).

Since its inception in 2013, approximately 700,000 tonnes of carbon emissions have been prevented each year, with businesses using up to 2.3 TWh less energy or enough to power 140,000 homes.

The need for such legislation becomes painfully obvious when framed in the context of energy wastage, in the City of London alone businesses are losing £35m each year this way according to a Green Alliance think tank report.

Originally, the initiative was due to conclude in March 2023 however Chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak announced in the spring budget that there would be consultation on a possible two-year extension to the initiative.

The show goes on

While 9,000 facilities across the UK are already benefiting from the CCA, this extension is estimated to be worth as much as £300m annually in CCL discounts, for the businesses already taking part in the scheme as well as new beneficiaries that would now be able to apply.

It works by encouraging businesses to make improvements to site energy efficiency over an eight-year period. In return, businesses would receive a discount worth as much as £300m annually on CCL bills.

Given the financial uncertainty that COVID-19 continues to inspire, and cooling attitudes towards sustainable development and practices, the news of an extension is welcome on all fronts.

“Extending the Climate Change Agreement scheme will give businesses greater clarity and security at a time when they need it most. This extension will save businesses money while cutting emissions…”

-Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng

The consultation will cover proposals for the addition of a new Target Period, from 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2022, an extension of certification for reduced rates of CCL for participants 31 March 2025 and finally, to re-open the scheme, allowing eligible facilities not currently participating to apply to join.

Businesses that had previously missed the opportunity to join the scheme now stand a chance of taking advantage of these savings whilst contributing to a greener economy.

However, it should be noted that the criteria of eligibility for the scheme is not under review, rather the extra time will allow businesses to implement strategies that make them eligible in time for the levy discount to bear fruit.

The new gold rush

The extension proposed, should it be approved, presents a significant opportunity to both current beneficiaries and new comers to the scheme, provided they have the reporting mechanisms in place, to adhere to the scheme.

However, businesses that wish to take advantage of this opportunity in future will need to ensure that they are fully compliant with the scheme as soon as possible, in order to reap the most benefit.

EIC’s expert team of carbon consultants and data analysts are dedicated to offering your business a comprehensive CCA service from initial assessments through data analysis to actionable strategy.

SECR: Why use EIC?

A brief look into SECR, why it matters, the deadlines and reasoning behind the legislation and how EIC can combine it with ESOS in an economic package suited to your organization’s needs.

The Nuts and Bolts

The UK’s Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting Policy (SECR), is a piece of governmental legislation that came into effect April 1st of last year. It seeks to consistently highlight the carbon footprint of companies, whilst encouraging long term strategies that are congruent to UK carbon emissions goals.

To that end, the SECR requires companies to provide a detailed report which includes items such as their carbon emissions and energy efficiency / carbon reduction behaviours implemented to redress their overall carbon footprint.

Established as the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) was ending, last year’s regulations will affect approximately 11,900 companies in the UK, considerably increasing the range of influence that the CRC originally enjoyed.

The scheme affects businesses described as “large organisations” within the Companies House terminology. Therefore businesses which have at least a turnover of £36 million, balance sheet of at least £18 million, or 250 or more employees, will be within this category.

SECR works in cooperation with the pre-existing legislation the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS).

 

time-lapse photography of sparkler at night time

 

Year 1 – Act Now

Since the SECR came into effect on April 1st 2019, it means that we now sit on the eve of the first regulatory deadline, with the first trench of qualifying businesses financial year ending in March 2020.

For businesses which also qualify for ESOS, the SECR scheme is a useful tool to provide the necessary data sets required for compliance, making the journey smoother.

As such, we felt that the timing was right to remind our readers of the combined ESOS and SECR package that we offer. The fusing of the two services is designed to remove unnecessary stress and inconvenience with the promise of a dedicated Carbon Consultant.

Finally, EIC also offers a 10% discount to any clients that sign up for a 4-year joint service package, our website contains further details on all of our services and we invite you to find out more should they appeal to you.

Please visit our blog here for the latest news regarding SECR.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Science-Based Targets

A number of large corporations are leading the way in a bid to tackle climate change, with science-based targets.

What are science based targets?

Science-based targets are ambitious emissions reductions objectives, set out by businesses to specify how much they need to reduce their carbon emissions by, to limit temperature rises through global warming. They are considered a positive way to transition to a low-carbon economy.

This transformative action is a consequence of the Paris agreement in 2015 where 195 of the world’s governments committed to prevent climate change. A target was set, limiting global warming to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, to a level of warming of 1.5°C.

The targets set for businesses to reduce GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions to meet this target, are referred to as ‘science-based’ if they are in-line with this temperature goal.

A united initiative

An initiative for this was set up by CDP, World Resources Institute (WRI), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). It focuses on companies that have set science-based targets to highlight the positive effects such as increased innovation, strengthened investor confidence and improved profitability.

In addition, the initiative:

  1. Defines and promotes best practice in science-based target setting via the support of a Technical Advisory Group.
  2. Offers resources, workshops and guidance to reduce barriers to adoption.
  3. Independently assesses and approves companies’ targets.

What are the benefits of setting science-based targets?

There are many benefits to setting science-based targets. As well as saving the planet it;

  • Illustrates excellent CSR – for large corporates there is almost a responsibility to take action against climate change, science-based targets are a way to do this.
  • Delivers a competitive advantage – helps your business to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
  • The whole company can be involved – you can engage both internal and external stakeholders to help your business achieve or even exceed your targets.
  • Provides Investor confidence – 52% of execs have seen investor confidence boosted by targets (sciencebasedtargets.org).
  • Increases innovation – 63% of company execs say science based targets drive innovation (sciencebasedtargets.org).

How do you set a science based target?

There are three science-based target (SBT) setting approaches:

  1. In a sector-based approach the global carbon budget is divided by sector and emission reductions allocated to individual companies based on its sector’s budget.
  2. With an absolute-based approach all companies will equally work towards the same percent reduction in absolute emissions.
  3. Economic-based approach – A carbon budget is equated to global GDP and a company’s share of emissions is determined by its gross profit, since the sum of all companies’ gross profits worldwide equate to global GDP.

How do businesses get involved?

For a business to get involved in the initiative there is a simple 4 step process to follow:

  1. Submit a letter to say you are committed to the scheme.
  2. Develop your own science-based target within 24 months.
  3. Submit your target for validation.
  4. Announce your target.

838 companies are currently taking science-based climate action and 343 companies have approved science-based targets.

How EIC can help

We can help you create science-based targets as part of a Carbon Management Plan that can also incorporate Net Zero goals. We’re already partnering with leading UK private and public sector organisations supporting them to transform their operations in line with ambitious targets that will help to save the planet and future-proof their business.

EIC can assist in meeting your science based targets by:

  • Establishing your carbon footprint to act as your baseline
  • Provide recommendations to reduce your carbon impact
  • Set your target to reduce your carbon footprint to meet the 5°C objective
  • Create an ongoing Carbon Management Plan
  • Create and publish all documentation required for the scheme
  • Work with you to embed the strategy into your business
  • Assist you with carbon offset strategies

We can also provide marketing packages for use both internally and externally, to assist with CSR around your targets.

Budget 2020

The new Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has delivered the first Budget since the UK set its 2050 Net Zero target last year. The previous Chancellor, Sajid Javid, had promised a “green” Budget, however the current health crisis caused by the spread of COVID-19 had cast doubts on how much time Mr. Sunak would spend on energy and the environment.

Below, we highlight key announcements:

Carbon reduction schemes

The government announced a Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Infrastructure Fund to establish CCS in at least two UK sites. One by the mid-2020s and a second by 2030. CCS is a technology that involves the capturing of carbon dioxide emissions created by fossil fuels during energy generation. The CO2 can then be transported and stored safely.  There are currently no operational commercial CCS facilities in the UK to date. However, there are a small number of pilot projects currently in development.

The Chancellor also announced a Green Gas Levy, designed to help fund the use of greener fuels. This is in effort to encourage more environmentally-friendly ways of heating buildings through a new support scheme for biomethane. In addition, the Budget stated that the government will increase the Climate Change Levy (CCL) that businesses pay on gas in 2022/23 and 2023/24 (whilst freezing the rate on electricity). It will also reopen and extend the Climate Change Agreement (CCA) scheme by two years.

Further announcements saw the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme extended for  two years until March 2022. This is alongside a new allocation of flexible tariff guarantees to non-domestic RHI in March next year. The government said these efforts would “provide investment certainty for the larger and more cost-effective renewable heat projects”.

Electric vehicle infrastructure

Road transport is currently responsible for approximately one fifth of all UK emissions. To reduce this the government has announced investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure with aims that “drivers are never more than 30 miles from a rapid charging station”.  The government will invest £500 million over the next five years to support the rollout of a fast-charging network.

The government is still considering the long-term future of incentives for zero-emission vehicles alongside the 2040 phase-out date consultation. In the meantime, £403 million will be provided for the Plug-in Car Grant, extending it to 2022/23, with a further £129.5 million to extend the scheme to vans, taxis and motorcycles. In addition there will be an exemption of zero emission cars from the Vehicle Excise Duty (VED).

Natural environment

The Budget has announced a Nature for Climate Fund, which will invest £640 million in tree planting and peatland restoration across England, representing the coverage of an area greater than Birmingham over the next five years. Additionally, the announcement of the Nature Recovery Network Fund and the Natural Environment Impact Fund will each provide avenues for environmental restoration and sustainable development.

Future reading

In the build-up to the COP26 Climate Summit, to be hosted in Scotland later in the year, HM Treasury will publish two reviews. One into the economic costs and opportunities associated with reaching Net Zero and the other into the economics of biodiversity.

In summary

Reactions to the Budget have been a mixed bag. It’s been cited as simultaneously the greenest modern Budget to date and a missed opportunity regarding the larger climate picture. The government has announced a number of positive policies that will begin to pave the way for the Net Zero transition. However, the decision to freeze fuel duty for the tenth year in a row and investment of £27 billion into new roads will be regarded as counter-productive to ambitious targets.

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Our Market Intelligence team keep a close eye on the energy markets and industry updates. For the timeliest updates you can find us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Climate Emergencies and Net Zero – what you need to know

Global scientific data supports action

The action follows a highly critical 33 page report publicised in 2018 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change.

The report focused on the impact of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. Limiting warming to 1.5°C rather than 2°C significantly reduces the climate change risks according to Professor Jim Skea, who co-chairs the IPCC.

What’s alarming is the scale of the challenge ahead of us to ensure we achieve these targets and do not allow the situation to escalate further.

Five steps to achieving the 1.5°C have been announced:

  1. Global emissions of CO2 need to decline by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030
  2. Renewables are estimated to provide up to 85% of global electricity by 2050
  3. Coal is expected to reduce to close to zero
  4. Up to seven million sq km of land will be needed for energy crops (a bit less than the size of Australia)
  5. Global net zero emissions by 2050.

Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement brings together nations towards a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change. It was originally signed by 196 countries back in 2016.

In line with the IPCC report its core aim is to keep the global temperature increase this century well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. In particular, to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5°C.

2019 – a watershed year for climate change?

Together with the impact of Greta Thunberg – the 16 year old Swedish activist – there have been a number of key factors driving the climate change movement this year. At Glastonbury festival in June 2019, 2,000 festival goers joined protestors to stage a procession across the site.

At the United Nations Climate Action Summit in late September you may have missed the news that Russia, the world’s fourth largest polluter will finally join the agreement. This announcement was overshadowed by the stirring “You have stolen my dreams” headlines surrounding Greta Thunberg’s appearance. Hailed as “the voice of the planet” she’s already been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Despite the raised awareness there are real fears that most of the world’s biggest firms are ‘unlikely’ to meet the targets set. Only a fifth of companies remain on track according to fresh analysis by investment data provider Arabesque S-Ray. Of 3,000 listed business only 18% have disclosed their plans.

UK reaction

In reaction to the IPCC report, UN Paris Agreement and other related research findings and movements, the UK public sector is taking positive, proactive steps to mitigate climate change risks.

Councillor Carla Danyer led the charge in Bristol by first declaring a climate emergency and this has sparked a wave of similar responses.

In June 2019, the UK became the first major economy to pass a net zero emissions law. The new target will require the UK to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. Net zero means any emissions would be balanced by schemes to offset an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, such as planting trees or using technology like carbon capture and storage. Other countries setting similar targets include Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and France as well as the US state of California.

Many UK councils, NHS Trusts and universities have publically declared their long term targets. Some aiming for speedier action by declaring net zero 2030 targets. These include Ipswich Borough, Vale of Glamorgan and Telford & Wrekin councils.

Unsurprisingly, Bristol University is one of the leading educational facilities leading the way. To date they’ve cut carbon emissions by 27% and are well on their way to achieving their target to become carbon neutral by 2030. The University of Cambridge, along with others, has set a net zero target of 2038 and has announced it is adopting science-based targets. On one website – climateemergency.uk – 228 councils are listed as having signed up to the targets.

In Boris Johnson’s first speech as Prime Minister, he affirmed the UKs commitment to a net zero future. Johnson proclaimed “Our Kingdom in 2050… will no longer make any contribution whatsoever to the destruction of our precious planet brought about by carbon emissions,” he said. “Because we will have led the world in delivering that net zero target.”

Steps towards a better future

According to the Centre for Alternative Technology (CATs) Zero Carbon Britain research a modern, zero emissions society is possible using technology available today.

Below we’ve outlined some key initiatives that can help the UK achieve its net zero ambitions:

  • Businesses implementing science-based targets.
  • Improving built environment efficiencies. Upgrading old buildings and ensuring new buildings must meet higher energy efficiency standards.
  • A shift to electric vehicles and the continued battery storage revolution.
  • Decentralised energy. Home and local energy generation.
  • Shift to renewable energy sources.
  • New policy.

The Aldersgate Group issued a green policy manifesto to Boris Johnson on 1 August 2019. They are a politically impartial, multi-stakeholder alliance championing a competitive and environmentally sustainable economy. Members of the group include Friends of the Earth, BT, M&S, Tesco, National Grid and Sky. Their green manifesto focuses on 4 key areas for the government to take decisive action and provide greater policy detail:

  • Delivering a Clean Growth Strategy Plus (CGS+) that matches the ambition of the net zero target. This should consist of a targeted update to the existing Clean Growth Strategy to increase ambition where required (for example on zero emission vehicle roll-out). Plus it should incorporate concrete policies that accelerate private sector investment to decarbonise priority sectors. These include surface transport, buildings and support the competitiveness of industry during this transition.
  • Passing an ambitious Environment Bill that safeguards environmental protections currently enshrined in EU law. They believe it must set ambitious and legally binding targets for environmental improvements in line with the vision of the 25 Year Environment Plan.
  • Implementing the Resources and Waste Strategy, through the introduction of detailed regulatory measures and fiscal incentives that drive greater resource efficiency and cut waste across the economy.
  • Building on the Green Finance Strategy, to rapidly grow private capital flows into the green infrastructure required to deliver the UK’s net zero target and the objectives set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan.

Our view

At EIC we believe new government policy is one of the most important steps needed to turn sentiment into action. Legislation relating to major energy users such as ESOS and SECR are steps in the right direction but they aren’t enough. Without doubt more effective policy is needed, to not only ensure energy and carbon is measured, but also that carbon reduction strategies are developed and implemented across the UK. Too often business cases for energy and carbon reduction are created and filed, never to be signed off.

The end of CRC

The final reporting period for the Carbon Reduction Commitment Scheme (CRC) concluded in March this year. Qualifying companies now only have to manage the final elements of the scheme: ensuring they have purchased and surrendered sufficient allowances to finalise Phase 2 reporting.

The CRC scheme ran for eight years, from April 2010 to March 2019. It covered approximately 10% of the UK’s carbon emissions, and raised roughly £790 million annually for the exchequer.

Qualifying businesses

Qualification criteria for CRC Phase 2 was determined as organisations with at least one half-hourly meter using 6,000 megawatt hours or more of qualifying electricity. This was a simpler method of working out relevant organisations and was implemented following Phase 1 feedback that the system was too complex. The seemingly sensible criteria did a good job of identifying significant energy consumers with a test that was simple.

An issue arose however with qualification being considered only in the period April 2012 to March 2013, and then lasting for all subsequent years in the phase. As time went on, there was an increase in companies who qualified, but had subsequently sold off the (usually industrial) sites that made them qualify for the scheme. This left comparatively low energy users stuck in a scheme for which they were no longer suitable. The qualification criteria became less effective over time. We learnt that rolling qualification criteria for schemes helps to avoid this problem and keep qualifying members relevant.

The impact of ‘greening the grid’

The CRC scheme also changed significantly due to the “greening of the grid”. The government’s electricity conversion factors, which denote the amount of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions associated with consuming a fixed amount of electricity, fell approximately 15% year on year over the last three years of the scheme.

This meant that in three years the number of allowances required to cover a fixed amount of electricity, halved. Some members of the scheme were caught out by this, and held a large number of prepaid allowances which were no longer needed due to the drop in conversion factors that was not forecast. This also had a big impact on the total tax revenue generated by CRC, and if the scheme were to continue, we would expect this to be addressed in a review. We learnt that if part of a carbon scheme’s purpose is to raise tax, then there are factors that can unexpectedly influence this.

The future of compliance

Now the CRC scheme is closed, we see a new future opening for carbon compliance. The tax-raising component of CRC has been incorporated into the Climate Change Levy as an increased flat rate across business energy bills in the UK for firms who pay 20% VAT. This is charged per kWh of energy, and so tax revenues are easier to forecast and less likely to change. However, this has shifted the tax burden initially placed on high emitters to being evenly spread across a wider group of energy bills.

The reporting side of CRC has been followed by the new Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) scheme. This has a larger footprint of approximately 11,000 qualifying firms, and the new qualifying criteria is attached to accounting standards which is both simple and applicable year on year. We welcome the increased attention on emissions that will be generated by the SECR scheme.

Talk to the EIC team

EIC can offer a full review of your organisation to assess your legal obligations and compliance status. We offer ESOS, SECR, Air Conditioning Inspections, Display Energy Certificates and much more, see our full suite of services here. We’ll provide you with a Compliance Report that will summarise our findings, explain the legislation, and outline your next steps.

Our in-house team includes qualified ESOS Lead Assessors and ISO 50001 Lead Auditors, as well as members of the Chartered Institution of Building Service Engineers (CIBSE), the Register of Professional Energy Consultants (RPEC), and the Energy Institute. Call us on 01527 511 757 or contact us here.

Net Zero UK

The action will require the UK to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to nothing over the next 30 years. This is a more ambitious target than the previous, which was at least an 80% reduction from 1990 levels.

The decision follows the Net Zero report, by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which was commissioned by the government to reassess the UK’s long-term emissions targets. The report recommended the 2050 net zero target for the UK, while issuing a 2045 target for Scotland and a 95% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050 for Wales.

Representatives of the Scottish and Welsh governments have already announced intentions for the nations to aim for these targets, with the Welsh government aiming to go further than the CCC advice; targeting net zero emissions no later than 2050.

Is this achievable?

The report by the Committee on Climate Change states that the net zero target is possible with known technologies, alongside behavioral and societal changes in people’s lives. The organisation has forecast that that the target is also within the expected economic cost that Parliament accepted when legislating the previous 2050 target under the Paris Agreement.

The report does come with the caveat that net zero is only possible if clear, sensible and well-designed policies to enable reductions in emissions are introduced across the country in a strict timeline. The CCC highlights that current policy would not meet even the previous target.

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Updates to the SECR Scheme

The Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting Scheme (SECR) came into force at the start of this month. Quoted companies and large unquoted companies and LLPs are affected, and will now be required to make a public disclosure within their Directors’ Annual Report of their UK energy use and carbon emissions.

Over the last few months the ETG (Emissions Trading Group) have been consulting with various parties and collating feedback and queries regarding the guidance for the scheme. As a result, a number of minor updates have been made to the SECR section (Chapter 2) of the Environmental Reporting Guidance.

 

A guide to the updates

All of the updates can be found in Chapter 2 of the Environmental Reporting Guidance.

Below is a summary of the changes:

  • Page 14, 20, 36 – hyperlinks for ISO 14001, BS 8555, ISO 14064-3 and ISO 14064-1 have been updated.
  • Page 26 – reference to public sector has been expanded (first paragraph and footnote 22) and also for charitable organisations (second bullet point).
  • Page 26 – new paragraph inserted to ensure that guidance is not seen as a substitute for the SECR Regulations.
  • Page 30 – reference to corporate group legislation has been expanded (sections 1158 to 1162 of Companies Act 2006) in the last paragraph of section 2.
  • Page 33 and 39 – amended reference to NF3 to reflect that it is not currently listed as a direct GHG in section 92 of the Climate Change Act.
  • Page 45 – footnote 39 referencing Government consultation published on 11 March 2019 on the recommendations made by the Independent Review of the Financial Reporting Council.
  • Pages 50-56 – changes to reporting templates to recommend grid-average emission factor is included as the default by those organisations that choose not to dual report.


Our view on the changes

These updates provide useful clarification on outstanding queries raised by EIC such as dual reporting of electricity. Dual reporting remains voluntary but doing so allows companies to demonstrate responsible procurement decisions. For example, those selecting to procure electricity from renewable sources with a lower emissions factor can demonstrate this within their energy and carbon report if they choose to dual report.

EIC work closely with the ETG and BEIS to help the group reach key decisions regarding carbon compliance scheme development and implementation, including SECR, and will continue to do so. As a result we are able to ensure all of our customers receive the most up-to-date information and we are always on hand to support with SECR compliant reporting.

Click here to learn more about the Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting scheme.

7 things you need to know about SECR

    1. SECR stands for Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting, a new UK Carbon Reporting framework. Companies in scope of the legislation will need to include their energy use and carbon emissions in their Directors’ Report as part of their annual filing obligations.

 

    1. It starts on 1 April 2019 and companies will need to report annually, reporting deadlines align with the company’s financial reporting year.

 

    1. The scheme affects UK quoted companies and ‘large’ unquoted companies and LLPs, defined as those meeting at least two of the following; 250 employees or more, annual turnover of £36m or more or an annual balance sheet of £18m or more.

 

    1. It will affect over 11,000 firms from high street retailers to manufacturers.

 

    1. SECR requires companies to report the following: their Scope 1 (direct) and Scope 2 (indirect) energy and carbon emissions (electricity, gas and transport as a minimum). Previous year’s figures for energy and carbon. At least one intensity ratio (e.g. tCO2/turnover). Detail of energy efficiency action taken within the reporting year. Reporting methodology applied.

 

    1. Not meeting the reporting requirements can result in accounts not being signed off and missing the filing deadline could lead to a civil penalty. So it’s important for organisations to fully align communications between their energy and finance teams and to get a head start where possible!

 

  1. There is an overlap with other reporting and compliance schemes such as ESOS so savvy businesses can save time and hassle by using data collection from one to support compliance with another.

Find out more at our Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) service page.