Keynote: better metering could save businesses millions

A Carbon Trust trial identified the potential to save 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 and save UK small businesses £300 million per year.

Need a sweeter meter? The Carbon Trust thinks so.

Need a sweeter meter? The Carbon Trust thinks so.

Research published by the government-funded trust identified that the use of advanced metering by small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) could save 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year - equivalent to the entire annual carbon footprint of Bristol - and also provide a net financial benefit to the UK economy.

This research was carried out as part of a three year Carbon Trust field trial into the use of advanced metering in SMEs. The aim of the trial was to demonstrate the potential benefits of the technology and understand whether there was a case for encouraging the widespread adoption of advanced metering by SMEs.

Based on the findings from the trial, the Carbon Trust is calling for new policy measures to support the installation of advanced meters in all small and medium sized businesses across the UK.

The Carbon Trust's trial - the largest in the UK to date - saw advanced meters installed at over 580 sites across the UK. Results show that by switching to advanced metering, on average SMEs can identify potential carbon savings of over 12 per cent and successfully achieve savings of over 5 per cent.

Cutting carbon also results in significant financial savings for SMEs. On average, the companies who took part in the trial saved over £1,000 a year on their energy bills.

The largest financial benefits were seen by multi-site businesses, such as retail and wholesale chains, and for high energy users, such as small manufacturing companies. Widespread adoption of advanced metering across the UK SME community would result in annual cost savings of £300 million for small businesses.

The take-up of advanced metering technology is currently hindered by the lack of financial incentives for energy suppliers to provide these services to SMEs, which is why the Carbon Trust is calling for action and new policy measures to accelerate the roll out of this technology.

Tom Delay, chief executive of the Carbon Trust, said: "Our trial has shown that advanced meters can help businesses save money and also deliver significant carbon savings for the UK.

"To harness this potential there needs to be a structured and sustainable roll out of this important technology to help the UK meet its commitment to cut carbon emissions by 60% by 2050.
"Widespread use of advanced metering will also create new business opportunities for energy suppliers and metering service providers."

Ian Pearson, Environment and Climate Change Minister, said: "Boosting energy efficiency makes good financial and economic sense for businesses. It also helps cut costs and carbon emissions, as this research by the Carbon Trust shows. We need to overcome the barriers faced by companies that are trying to increase their energy efficiency."

John Holbrow, chairman, Environmental & Rural Affairs Policy Unit, Federation of Small Businesses added: "The Federation of Small Businesses welcomes the Carbon Trust's trial and report on advanced metering for SMEs.

"This work has shown that advanced meters can help our members save money on their energy bills, cut their carbon emissions and reduce their impact on climate change. We hope to see further action taken to help our members access these benefits cost-effectively and we encourage the government and energy suppliers to take the necessary steps to make this possible."

Gareth Elliott, policy adviser at the British Chambers of Commerce added: "We welcome this approach by the Carbon Trust to assist the SME sector in cutting their carbon emissions.

"Small and medium sized businesses recognise the environmental challenges yet need assistance to meet them in a cost effective manner. This is a step in the right direction."

The report was also welcomed by the Green Alliance. Stephen Hale, director said: "This research shows there is a clear opportunity to use new metering to drive carbon and cost savings for small businesses.

Advanced meters enable businesses to identify energy, cost and carbon savings by providing detailed information about the way they use their energy.

Although this technology is well established in larger companies it is not widely used by small businesses, which currently use over 2.7 million traditional energy meters.

The energy consumption through these meters is worth around £6.5 billion per year and leads to emissions of over 50 million tonnes of CO2 per year.

Based on the evidence from this study, the Carbon Trust is making the following recommendations:
  • Government should take action to ensure a widespread roll out of advanced metering technology to SME users
  • Government should work to ensure that appropriate standards are put in place regarding advanced meter functionality, data availability and data transfer procedures
  • Energy suppliers and metering service providers should investigate new business models to provide innovative metering services to their SME clients.
  • Trade bodies, the Carbon Trust and others should continue to promote the benefits of proactive use of advanced meters to the SME community

    The Carbon Trust is an independent company set up by government in response to the threat of climate change, to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy by helping organisations reduce their carbon emissions and by developing commercial low carbon technologies. For more information on the trust visit www.carbontrust.co.uk or call the Carbon Trust Advice Line on 0800 085 2005.

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