Failing energy policy costing UK firms millions, says TUC

The government has not done enough to help UK businesses improve their energy efficiency, claims a new report released Friday by the Trade Unions Congress (TUC).

Efficiency gains have “essentially flatlined” since 2007 thanks to failing and overly complex government policies, says the report, called Money to Burn.

These failures are saddling UK businesses with higher-than-necessary energy bills, costing companies millions of pounds a year, according to the union group.

The report also says many businesses feel efficiency measures – such as better heating, ventilation, lighting controls and building shell improvements – have  too often been neglected by Government in favour of a focus on energy generation.

Figure 1: Energy intensities for the whole service sector and private commercial and public sectors in the UK

Writing in a TUC blog today, Allen Creedy, honorary chair of the ‘Energy, Water and Environment Policy Unit’ for the Federation of Small Businesses said: “Hitting our carbon emissions targets and keeping UK businesses profitable means recognising that reducing consumption is as important as energy price.

“It’s important to remember that switching will save the average small and micro business only £50-£100 a year. So it’s a travesty, when energy efficiency can save a typical business £400-£800 in the first year just by behavioural change.”

New Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) laws – which will require non-domestic landlords to upgrade their properties to Band E by 2018 – were also criticised for being too unambitious to be effective.

Great British energy-waste

The report details five areas where the government must improve policy, including; regulation, tax incentives, access to finance, information gathering and dissemination, and ‘greening the workplace’ – with staff, unions and management working together.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Clamping-down on the Great British energy waste is a win-win for businesses, the government and the environment. Even small businesses can save far more from energy efficiency measures than switching suppliers.

“Better energy regulations backed by access to finance, a one-stop shop for energy advice, and encouraging green workplaces would all help tackle this pointless and expensive frittering away of energy.

Policy momentum

A report from the Association for Decentralised Energy released in January also called for a stronger Government focus on energy efficiency, but took a different tack, pointing out the progress made over the last thirty years.

One of the Government’s most recent attempts to prioritise efficiency took the form of an Energy Demand Reduction (EDR) auction, where participants bid for funding based on how much energy they could save and at what cost.

The funds went to businesses running projects – such as LED lighting or efficient motors – that could save energy in the cheapest way possible.

Full TUC report to follow.

Brad Allen

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