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.

Success is negative: Carbon negative office spaces

EIC explores the carbon-negative office spaces that are emerging, their role in the green recovery and the technology that make them possible.

Favour the bold

The path to net zero is fraught with obstacles and among these is the carbon intensive nature of the mainstream construction sector. Materials like concrete are extremely resource intensive to produce.

While often offset on a citywide scale, some firms are beginning to focus on the buildings themselves and work sustainability into their initial designs.

Blazing the smoke-free trail are Norwegian architects Snøhetta, who will design exclusively carbon-neutral buildings over the next decade.

The aim is then that from 2030 onwards, Snøhetta will focus on creating carbon-negative designs.

Carbon negative structures either generate more energy than they consume, or sequester more carbon than they produce. The figure includes expenses from initial  construction and materials, as well as operation and decommissioning.

Elusive costs like these are problematic, with 85% of building emissions generated by materials and construction, before the structure is ever used.

“For the next 10 years, we have the ambition of having projects on the table that will become CO2 negative in the cradle-to-cradle definition… This means we have to understand the embodied energies and all the materials used.”

-Snøhetta co-founder Kjetil Thorsen

Balancing the books

Since less intensive materials suited to large scale construction are not yet widely available, balancing through generation will be key.  Solar is central to Snøhettas plans, with structures taking about 60 years to hit carbon negative with embedded generation. The architect recently completed its Powerhouse Brattørkaia project, which boasts an identical timeline for net negative. The Powerhouse also sports a cutting edge ‘wedge’ shape designed to maximise exposure to the sun’s rays.

While this may seem like a life sentence for business leaders, it is refreshing that groups like Snøhetta are beginning to think in terms of multi-generational gains.

Bywater Properties are leading a similar development project aimed to create the lowest-carbon workplace in London. The office, named ‘Paradise’ for the road it occupies: Old Paradise Street. Supermarket, Iceland has already secured the majority of this space, planting a green flag for the brand in the minds of its customers.

My generation

It is no secret that the attraction of short-term gains have significantly contributed to the environmental challenges we now face.

However, vision extending beyond the next board meeting can help transform the UK and global economy to reach net zero. Carbon negative buildings are a part of that vision.

Unfortunately, that can feel exclusionary to firms that have already established their sites and do not have the luxury of completely retrofitting them.

The complex, modular nature of structures does mean that while carbon negative may not be feasible, ‘carbon-light’ might be possible.

Intelligent building control is one of the most effective ways to improve your carbon profile. Primarily because it streamlines the carbon-producing elements of a building, mainly utility consumption, and shrinks carbon footprint as a result.

A holistic ally in carbon reduction is the addition of green spaces to working environments, since these also sequester carbon.

On-site generation further reduces your reliance on the grid and the subsequent sequestered carbon in meeting demand – particularly across long distances.

Other benefits include improved energy supply security, added leverage in procurement talks and a better carbon profile for crucial legislation.

EIC understands that intelligent building design and frugality around resource-use work in hand in glove. As such, EIC offers a comprehensive carbon service combining building management, intelligent procure and compliance acumen.

Marriage of these three pillars means unlocking the full potential of sites, and leveraging for the benefit of all. EIC’s full offering is on its services page.

 

 

 

 

Summer Economic Update

EIC explores Rishi Sunak’s Summer Economic Update and what it means for businesses looking to gain a head start in the green revolution in the UK’s future.

A brave new world

The build back better campaign received a large, public endorsement from Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak this week, who pledged in the Summer Economic Update that £3bn would be committed to the new green economy. While this is only a drop in the proverbial bucket of the £160bn Covid-19 recovery package, it has been met with great enthusiasm from both business leaders and the public.

An E.on survey conducted earlier this year, polling 500 UK-based business leaders, demonstrated that 72% felt that the pandemic has given them cause to re-evaluate their organisations priorities regarding the environment.

During the announcement, the Chancellor revealed the two major fields of improvement to be energy efficiency in public structures and a £2bn Green Homes Grant for those not in social housing. The remaining £1bn will be invested in improving the carbon usage and profile of public sector buildings through measures including double or triple glazing and smart energy meters.

“Improving the energy efficiency of buildings is crucial for reducing our emissions…. this announcement of £3bn is a welcome first step… This funding needs to be part of a comprehensive plan to improve the whole of the UK’s building stock, creating tens of thousands of jobs for the long term, not here-today-gone-tomorrow.”

UKGBC chief executive Julie Hirigoyen

Sunak also announced that £50m worth of funding would be used to support trials into early-stage energy efficiency and flexibility technology for the UK’s least efficient sectors.

The majority of respondents to E.on’s survey believe that the primary responsibility for the UK’s green revolution lies with business leaders, and the UK public, it seems, agrees.

Dancing in the dark

One of the unforeseen gifts of the pandemic has been a heightened awareness both of our potential effects on each other within our society but also the affect that our species is having on the planet. It is no secret that human behaviour is partially responsible for large-scale disease outbreaks and as a result, consumers are becoming ever more cautious about which companies to whom they declare allegiance.

The Capgemini Research Institute has also conducted a recent survey that showed almost 70% of respondents are concerned the effect that their spending habits are having on the natural world. The institute also reports that 80% have altered spending habits in the last year in response to social and environmental issues.

However, while there is clearly a market trend developing in favour of sustainable business practices, ‘greenwashing’ and a lack of transparency threaten to shake consumer trust on a mass scale. Six in ten business leaders consider their clients to be well informed of their sustainability efforts but over half of consumers have stated difficulty in confirming corporate sustainability claims.

“…when baked into an organization’s mission and purpose, sustainability has the potential to entirely change an organization’s relationship with its customers and partners… As businesses focus on transformation in the wake of the pandemic, they should put sustainability at the heart of their efforts.”

Capgemini’s VP for consumer goods and retail Kees Jacobs said.

Getting a head start

Legislation will be one of the major lynchpins in the UK’s approach to a green economic recovery, however clearly signposted legislation could also help to bolster consumer trust.

SECR stands as not only an ethical benchmark for firms that are invested in a cleaner economy, but also a declaration of intent to consumers. Compliance to such legislation demonstrates to consumers that emissions reductions is a company-wide objective and therefore representative of your brand as a whole.

The palatability of SECR is also a major benefit, while it is a complex piece of legislation; the objective is simple and easily explained to non-energy professionals. Employment of the strategies necessary to ensure compliance, be they energy efficiency measures, supply chain reorganisation or on-site generation raises a green flag to would-be clients.

Fortunately, each of these listed strategies is covered under EIC’s carbon management team, who are able to utilise over four decades of experience to create a bespoke carbon strategy for your firm. The EIC services page contains full details of its compliance offering.

 

 

 

Pause for thought: CCA extension consultation closes

Following the closure of the government’s consultation on reforms and an extension to the CCA scheme on Thursday, EIC explores the success of the scheme so far and the opportunity that this extension presents to business leaders.

Laying a foundation 

During the Spring Budget announcement, Chancellor Sunak made it clear that while the economy would be strained during and after lockdown, its recovery could not come at the expense of UK climate goals.

Little over a month after the budget announcement, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) proposed an extension to the Climate Change Agreements (CCA) scheme.

No doubt, this move was designed to engage with businesses that already fit the criteria of the scheme but were unable to join it previously and in doing so allow them to benefit from the reduced CCL cost and the environment to benefit from reduced carbon emissions.

2017 saw the Government aim its sights at a 20% improvement in commercial and industrial energy efficiency by 2030, this goal has informed the consultation with that target being upheld in regards to the extension.

The popularity and effectiveness of the scheme are undeniable, with recent analyses demonstrating that 80-100% of businesses were participating in most eligible sectors.

A consensus of this magnitude inspires hope for the UK’s climate goals, given that, of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions, 25% are business driven. An evaluation for the 2017 Clean Growth Strategy also showed that up to 22m tonnes of CO2 could be saved through investments in energy efficiency technology.

An open forum

The BEIS has made clear that facilities that do meet the current criteria would now be able to join the scheme for the first time since its initial closure in October 2018.

The Target Period being proposed, in addition to remaining in line with periods 1-4 of the scheme (running from the 1st January 2021 until 31st December 2022), will be supported by a variation of the certification period. Initially planned to end in March 2023, it would be pushed back to June of the same year to allow participants to gain certification for CCL discounts between April and June 2023. The added certification period, for which facilities will only be certified having met obligations in Target Period 5, will begin on 1 July 2023 and end on 31 March 2025.

The CCA’s closing in 2018 had shut out new entrants to the scheme; however, businesses fitting the eligibility now have an opportunity to recoup up to 92% on electricity and 83% on gas CCL charges.

Applications to the CCA can be long-winded and complex, however the return on an initial investment of time is huge, especially considering that an average energy intensive business the added certification period, for which facilities will only be certified having met obligations in Target Period 5, will begin on 1 July 2023 and end on 31 March 2025.

Based on these figures, the opportunity presented by Sunak and the BEIS has the potential to dramatically change the landscape of the UK energy industry post COVID-19. Alongside legislation like ESOS, MEES and SECR, the CCA calls for expertise rather than direct action. EIC oversees the entire CCA application process and subsequent management of the service following approval of the application. We will be able to show the fiscal savings based on individual business’s energy consumption and ROI against our typical fees.

Moreover, EIC offers a comprehensive range of compliance services as well as ancillary strategies that can help improve your carbon profile while reducing utility costs.

 

COP26’s race to zero begins

EIC highlights the key points made in COP26 President Alok Sharma’s speech, which symbolised the beginning of the organisations ‘Race to Zero’ campaign, and how business leaders can take a poll position despite the starting gun having already been fired.

Mapping the future

News that the UK will postpone its hosting of the UN climate change conference (COP26) was not unexpected, given the necessity for social distancing that COVID-19 has imposed, however it did raise concerns over the UK’s determination to enact a green recovery post-lockdown.

While the UK track record may, in part, justify some of these concerns, individual safety is not the only benefit of such a delay to talks, for one the nations taking part will need a clear idea of the state of their respective economies once lockdown ends before committing to new policy. 

And from a psychological perspective it might be argued that due to the all-consuming nature of the pandemic when it comes to public and government attention, the conference would not receive the attention necessary if it went ahead this year.

How far we’ve come

Despite the conference now being slated for Q4 2021 (-12 November), Alok Sharma gave a speech last Friday that reasserted the UK’s ambitions and responsibilities with regards to the 2050 net zero target and how the race to zero was already hastening its completion.

The UK, in collaboration with Chile and the U.N., are already leaders of the Climate Ambition Alliance – representing over half of global GDP – however Sharma insisted in his speech that “…we must go further”.

Sharma outlined some of the UK’s major achievements in reducing carbon emissions in the last thirty years:

  • Since 1990 the UK economy has grown by 75% while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions by 43%
  • In the same time, the UK has two offshore wind turbines able to power 2,000 homes, as of 2020 the UK is leading nation for offshore wind capacity
  • Globally, the cost of solar and wind power have dropped by 85% and 49% respectively
  • Over two thirds of the worlds nations can now generate renewable energy cheaper than coal

While details of the path forward remain scant – not surprising given the reasons for postponement – Sharma made it clear that liberating capital to fund green initiatives and widespread support for electric vehicles would be crucial to the UNFCCC’s success.

Approximately 1,000 business leaders, representing revenue totalling in excess £3.5tn have committed to the scheme including British motor giant Rolls Royce. According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCCC, around 75% of these businesses have already developed strategies and targets aligned with the 2050 target.

Dr. Alison Doig, international lead at the ECIU (Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit) recently commented on the danger of complacency in the opening stages of such a race. 

“This is not, however, about pushing climate action to some date in the future; no entity can reach net-zero in 2050 without starting now… participants will have to present delivery plans, including setting interim targets for the next decade, by the time COP26 opens in Glasgow next year.”

Clean energy was the first element of the British economy that Sharma cited when referring to the need for green growth after lockdown, making it a pressing issue for business leaders looking to get a head start on net zero. EIC provides comprehensive  support and advice to businesses in the procurement, management and generation of alternative energy sources. Each service forms an element of the robust energy management service that EIC offers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

EIC’s Utility Belt: Tips for more effective utility management

EIC outlines its best advice for intelligent energy management, minor changes that can yield significant savings and the importance of consistency in establishing new workplace cultures.

Technology vs culture 

The majority of your utility belt will be focused on the technology that you are currently using or could utilise in future however there is also a short section on the culture within your business and how that can factor into your success.

Heating and Ventilation 

Comfortable ambient temperature has become something of an assumption, commercially speaking, however the technology behind it often remains unexplored except to establish its basic controls for the user. Given that air conditioning alone can account for up to 30% of a site’s energy consumption, this is a significant oversight that, sadly can be solved very simply.

Sealing off or switching on 

A common method of controlling indoor temperatures is by sealing buildings, preventing windows being left open, however this can actually exacerbate the overall costs trying to be mitigated. It means air conditioning will be working overtime during hotter periods but also that air circulation may take a dip, meaning higher concentrations of CO2 and dampened performance from staff as a result.

IoT connectivity across sites can use occupancy monitoring and responsive temperature and air quality control to mitigate these issues. The provision of real-time data streams means that you can control individual spaces across large sites, maintaining utility usages that are responsive to demand and need.

Casual is smart 

Enstating a casual dress code during acutely hot or cold weather conditions means that staff will be able to offset their own demand on heating or cooling, not to mention be more comfortable in their work. 

Dig for victory

Planting trees is also a relatively cheap and environmentally friendly way to offset heating costs, since they provide shade and fresh oxygen as well as absorbing latent humidity in the air.

Lighting 

Intelligent lighting control can save 30-50% on energy costs automating this utility according to occupancy and respective demand means that you will not have spaces unnecessarily drawing power that isn’t being utilised. 

Let the sunshine in 

Not always an option depending on how sites are initially designed, however by using automated lighting, you can schedule lights to power down during daylight hours and reactivate once night falls. 

Using what you have 

The installation of LED bulbs for better efficiency and a longer lifespan can be an added boost to light use efficiency without being disruptive to pre-installed equipment, motion sensors are another low-impact option that help ensure that light is never wasted.

Professional culture 

As social creatures, culture is effectively the software that our communities run on, understanding this means that you can leverage your professional culture to become more energy efficient with a minimum of cost.

Empowering your team 

The use of environmental posters can help remind team members that their actions have weight in something larger than themselves. Small adjustments like the use of power strips also make it easier for them to adopt the positive habits that will be the foundation of your new professional culture. 

Communicate that computers should be shut down at the end of the day rather than left in standby, especially before the weekend. It has been estimated that a company with 200 PCs could save £12,000 annually this way. 

Breaking ranks 

2020 has demonstrated many things, among them our ability to work remotely and effectively and how doing so can help foster trust between managers and staff members. Encouraging this way of business means you can reduce or re-purpose the amount you are spending on office space and its attached utility costs. The same can be said of meetings that might’ve taken place on-site, by using video technology to bridge these physical gaps you reduce the occupancy on your own sites and the utility usage along with it.

Measure for measure 

Meters and sub-meters are essential tools in understanding the energy needs of a site as well as what areas have the highest concentration of usage. Armed with this information you are better equipped to make policy decisions pertaining to both technology and culture within your utility management. The Carbon Trust has found that a site meter can save 10% in energy costs while sub-metres, which allow you to pinpoint areas where demand is highest, can offer a further saving of 30%.

Going the extra mile

There are a number of additional features that can be added to the design of many sites to both off-set and reduce utility costs including on-site solar generation & storage, combined heat and power and demand side response schemes.

EIC can create a comprehensive and all-inclusive package for your business that oversees all aspects of utility management from metering & monitoring to IoT empowered devices that keep you connected to site data 24/7.

Open architecture technology affords access to all your vital business systems, meaning EIC can communicate with, control and report on any aspect of any site including heating, lighting and ventilation. Our services page contains full details of our offerings.

 

 

 

 

 

Here comes the Sun

EIC explores the benefits and future of on-site solar generation for businesses, how COVID-19 has highlighted and bolstered the strengths of solar power and how EIC can help businesses engage with the technology.

The wild blue yonder

Lockdown, while effective, has been a source of ongoing financial and emotional strain for many in the UK and businesses are no exception. However, there have been a number of benefits to this economic slowing that perhaps are going overlooked.

Chiefly, air pollution, in proportion with industrial energy demand, has dropped significantly. Combined with the severe oversupply of Oil and faltering resilience of fossil fuels generally, this has given solar generation the opportunity to enjoy a moment in the sun. 

However, solar is not a recent arrival to the energy scene, existing theoretically since at least 1839 thanks to French scientist Edmund Bacquerel. Bacquerel’s work was groundbreaking because it was the first time that solid material with no moving parts had been used to convert sunlight directly into electrical energy.

A guiding light

Since 1839, we’ve come a long way and furthest perhaps in the last five years, during which time the costs of solar have halved while storage options have improved consistently with the introduction of graphene and vanadium technology.

The conditions of lockdown have demonstrated that renewable energy sources are likely to be the most resilient to the supply chain disruptions that a major crisis can create. 

In fact, EU solar generation jumped by 28% year-on-year, between March 28th and April 26th of this year compared to 2019, breaking generation records while doing so. 

Energy security is a basic necessity for the survival of any business and, as such, will be a subject of great scrutiny throughout lockdown and in its aftermath. Novel technologies like on-site generation will become more attractive, not only for their resilience but for the savings that their flexibility offers. 

The use of on-site photovoltaics can also improve a company’s carbon profile while providing a measure of protection against supply failure. 

EIC manages around 12TWH each year and with over 40 years industry experience, we are able to create bespoke energy solutions for your needs. We can help you engage with on-site generation, saving you as much as 20% on your energy usage or 40% when combined with on-site battery storage. Better still, in times of plenty, you’ll be able to sell excess energy back to the grid and further offset energy costs. 

Our solutions page contains full details of our on-site generation and storage offerings, as well as further information on the compliance service we provide that can be bolstered by such technology.

 

A road map for change: UK climate goals post COVID-19

EIC outlines the call to action the UK government has received from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) to ensure that the road map for economic recovery post COVID-19 aligns with existing environmental targets.

Forging a path

Yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced proposed easing on several lockdown measures and made it clear that an exit strategy from COVID-19 was being developed to prevent further infection and revive the UK economy.

While the lion’s share of Johnson’s speech was devoted to these adjustments, he reiterated that maintaining social distancing would be critical in ensuring their success.

The next steps, beyond decreased restrictions on travel and exercise, will be in allowing non-key workers to return to work if their role was site-restricted but to remain working at home if possible. Thus the first sparks of economic resurrection appeared.

COVID-19 has ushered in one of the greatest economic cooling periods in modern history, in combination with geo-political tensions it has brought the oil industry to its knees and exposed many of the frailties in existing energy infrastructure.

In his speech, Johnson expressed the gravity of COVID-19, describing it as follows:

 

“The most vicious threat this country has faced in my lifetime…. [of a] kind we’ve seen never before in peace or war.”

 

However fears are now circulating that we will see a retreat away from renewable energy sources as both governments and investors move to revitalise that sector, perhaps at the cost of UK climate targets.

 

An opportunity in disguise

The CCC, among others, have stated that there is no reason that the economic recovery plan cannot be inclusive of UK climate goals. 

 

“Recovery means investing in new jobs, cleaner air and improved health. The actions needed to tackle climate change are central to rebuilding our economy. The government must prioritise actions that reduce climate risks and avoid measures that lock-in higher emissions.”

Lord Deben, CCC Chairman

 

Historically, Lord Deben is correct, perhaps the most dramatic green energy success story in recent history is that of the United States. Immediately after the 2008 financial crisis, the U.S. prioritised funding for clean energy which generated 900,000 jobs in a five-year period.

According to a recent insight from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), in excess of 17m jobs could be generated globally by 2030 through similar investment now-effectively doubling that work force.

Additionally, IRENA have calculated that this model could yield a global GDP gain of approximately $98tn by 2050, returning in the range of $3 to $8 on every dollar spent.

 

“Things have changed markedly since the last global economic downturn a decade ago – renewables are now cheaper than the alternatives” 

Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit

 

The global picture shows many benefits to leveraging COVID-19 for the purposes of green transition however these gains are logistical as well as financial. As Fatih Birol, head of the IEA, implied, renewables have also proven far more resilient during this crisis:

 

“Only renewables are holding up during the previously unheard-of slump in electricity use…”

Fatih Birol, head of the IEA

 

Upon this rock

The responsibility now falls to the UK government to create and enact policies that reflect its commitment to carbon neutral and to an economy for the future instead of simply offering life support to fossil fuels.

Despite not presenting a comprehensive strategy, the prime minister did comment on the UK’s green trajectory while responding to questions after the announcement. Johnson declared the UK’s resolve in meeting net zero by 2050, pandemic or not, saying “…we know we can do it”.

 

 

Although COP26, this year’s proposed Glasgow climate talks, are unlikely to go ahead, the UK is still considered a global leader in the fight against climate change, however actions taken now will dictate the fortitude of both our economy and reputation in years to come:

 

“The UK now finds itself in a unique position to ramp-up climate action at home and supercharge the international response to climate change abroad…” 

Baroness Brown of Cambridge,CCC Adaptation Committee chair 

 

Thankfully, while the costs of climate inaction are all too apparent, the benefits of a green transition are more and more becoming a matter of consensus, as Richard George of Greenpeace UK states:

“…200 top economists told us that transitioning to a low-carbon economy was the most effective form of economic stimulus… Now the UK government’s climate advisors have reinforced that message… the debate is over.”

The question then becomes how individuals and businesses can contribute to, and take advantage of, this new green trajectory?

No doubt new legislation will be introduced to further incentivise greener business practices, and the Energy Transitions Commission (ETC) has made suggestions along those lines in a strategic document. 

One such suggestion is that the second wave of financial support to UK businesses be conditional on their commitment to climate-friendly policy and practices. 

Leveraging the pandemic in order to pressure businesses into adopting sustainable practices may seem extreme however it is in order to prevent a much greater catastrophe and as such might be viewed as both timely and reasonable.

That being said, legislation and compliance will likely become the government’s major tools in achieving carbon neutral within the industrial and commercial sectors. As such, the value of compliance becomes even more pronounced, particularly given the need to reduce costs during and after a period of low income.

Carbon management then, becomes a vital priority as businesses and management professionals try to anticipate and navigate this possible transition. Not unlike the lockdown itself, social responsibility and personal accountability are at the heart of Carbon management and EIC will develop a bespoke plan for your business that reflects that. 

Combined with in-house compliance and IoT empowered facility management services, EIC can integrate many of the elements of your carbon strategy into a single cohesive framework for the benefit of your shareholders, team members and clients.

 

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.