Is renewable energy just a ‘passing trend’ for businesses?

Despite the strong progress that the business world has made in driving the renewables revolution in recent months, a new survey of 1,000 UK-based utility decision makers has revealed that more than a quarter (27%) believe that renewable energy is "just a passing trend".

The research, carried out by business electricity supplier Haven Power, found that the most common barrier to adopting long-term renewables targets was the cost of procuring renewable power. In total, 37% of respondents cited immediate expenditure as a business barrier.

Almost a quarter (24%) cited a lack of government support as a key challenge to renewables uptake. In recent years a plethora of cuts to subsidies and feed-in-tariffs (FITs), combined with the closure of Renewables Obligation (RO) applications, has dampened business appetite for purchasing renewables.

The third largest barrier, cited by 23% of respondents, was found to be uncertainty on how best to engage senior management in discussions about clean energy sourcing.

Haven Power’s chief operating officer Paul Sheffield said it was “concerning” to find that such a high proportion of utility decision makers still view renewable power as a “fad” in the face of climate challenges.

“It’s clear more needs to be done to demonstrate the wider opportunities and benefits of renewable energy for businesses,” Sheffield added. “Understanding of renewable energy and its benefits varies greatly from sector to sector. We believe that every industry needs to start taking positive steps to reduce carbon emissions and embrace cleaner energy.”

On a more positive note, three-fifths of those surveyed claimed that their company would be keen to start producing their own energy using renewable arrays.

Powering ahead

The results of the Haven Power survey come shortly after research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (Bloomberg NEF) revealed that the business community has already set a new record for levels of procurement in clean energy in 2018, sourcing 7.2GW so far this year.

Indeed, more than 140 corporates are now signed up to the Climate Group’s RE100 initiative, creating around 146TWh of demand for renewable electricity annually – similar to the electricity consumption of Poland.

Moreover, corporate demand for renewables is expected to grow as technology costs fall and companies seek ways to reduce utility bills. Bloomberg NEF estimates that RE100 members will collectively need to purchase an additional 197TWh of clean energy in order to meet their 2030 renewables targets.

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Sarah George

Comments (2)

  1. Michael Mann says:

    The attitudes to renewables are the same as for energy efficiency – it’s a bottom line issue and there are no real compliance drivers. Much of the purchasing and attitudes to energy efficiency and carbon are those of the A-level managers. B level mangers will usually delegate compliance-type work, such as ESOS and CRC, to their A team (and not in the sense of the best), whilst C level people often just ask their B’s and A’s "How’s it going – are we done yet?". The main reason for this, I believe, is that energy spend for most businesses is less than 2% of turnover and not ‘mission-critical’. This results in it being a lower priority in reality than anything that is ‘mission critical’. This is about perceptions rather than reality, so talk about sustainability and marketing or HR-related aspects of such things is just not listened to.
    Until government accepts that this is a high priority and requires action , not just thinking about it, not a lot will change.
    The pity is that there are a lot of good deals available and should the government force action the rush will again dilute quality and make doing a good job more difficult, not less, I fear.

  2. Gerry Goldner says:

    I think there should be more numbers about the size of the survey etc. On the issue of renewable energy costs becoming a problem, that does not seem to be the only real reason for not sourcing 100% renewable.
    With non-energy costs becoming a larger share of the delivered cost [circa 60%] the energy cost issue is a red herring.
    A more workable solution is to reduce energy wastage. Otherwise, any company is paying for energy it is not using

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