As part of TLT's support for the Energy Storage Alliance we hosted an energy management roundtable in February at our London office. We were joined by a range of expert contributors who shared their views on both the importance of, and challenges facing the energy management sector.
With the ESOS scheme being completed, a key area of discussion was the likelihood of the scheme leading to a wide take-up of energy efficiency measures. The perception is that many in the industry are 'hanging fire' before moving forward to delivery.
Also under discussion, the challenges faced by ‘energy champions’ across all industries. There was unanimous agreement that the perception of energy efficiency within companies across the UK needed to change.
Budgetary constraints and issues surrounding value of payback were seen as two hurdles to be overcome, with many energy managers operating within a limited scope and budget. The majority of companies appear to still view energy efficiency as a business cost rather than an investment where savings can be used to fund further measures.
It would seem that the way in which companies view energy efficiency needs to be changed at board-level. Support for, and the importance of carrying out work, including performance improvement measures, can then be filtered down throughout the company.
Board-level training to highlight the significant savings that can be made has been offered and undertaken, however there is still a lack of appreciation amongst CEOs and CFOs. Unfortunately, without the backing at this level, it is very difficult for energy managers to deliver truly effective measures.
Though the private sector is being hampered by board input, budgets and role scope, the public sector has got behind energy efficiency, something which is evident in the increasing deal sizes. This may be due to local authorities' ability to borrow at low rates, coupled with strong procurement frameworks, meaning that they are able to overcome procurement challenges and inertia. Indeed, for those in the public sector, pay-to-save initiatives are often seen as a way of introducing long term budget savings.
Whilst it is more difficult to accurately measure the savings that energy efficiency measures generate, strong data will identify the difference between actual energy usage and the hypothetical usage of a system with energy efficiency measures introduced. This data will prove key to winning over decision makers and forming a platform where role scope, budget and support will allow energy champions to effectively undertake their roles.
What is clear is that unless UK businesses change their perception of energy efficiency, there will be little scope for technology providers or professionals to implement their ambitious plans.