Majority of businesses now aware of ESOS, says Decc

The Department for Energy & Climate Change (Decc) has insisted it is doing all it can to raise awareness of the impending Energy Saving Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), despite more industry research suggesting businesses are still not informed enough.

A new survey from npower Business Solutions, conducted on more than 100 decision-makers at manufacturing businesses across the UK, revealed that 49% are unaware of the scheme, while 45% are unprepared for the first of the Government’s assessments which are due by December 2015.

“There are significant shortcomings in the way the policy has been communicated and will be implemented,” said head of npower business solutions Wayne Mitchell. “I strongly believe that if we want to encourage the business community to embrace energy efficiency then we must do a better job of making the case for it to do so.”

Visit Sustainability Live 2015 to find out more about ESOS

ESOS, which was developed following consultation with businesses and energy professionals, requires all companies with more than 250 employees or a turnover of more than €50m to produce detailed reports on their energy use and efficiency every four years. Lead assessors will carry out an energy audit, paid for by the business, but there is no obligation to implement any of the efficiency measures identified. 

The overwhelming majority of manufacturing firms (62%) are already investing in energy efficiency, and a similar proportion (60%) said they have already conducted their own assessment of their company’s energy use in the past three years. But with less than a year until the first assessments, 69% of respondents stated they do not feel well informed about the requirements for carrying out an ESOS assessment.

Rising awareness

Despite this, and other, industry research suggesting a lack of awareness and information about the impending regulation, Decc insists business awareness of ESOS is much higher; reiterating that it has been backing the scheme clearly and is constantly making the case for businesses to act.

A Department spokesperson said: “Decc is undertaking regular research to monitor awareness and compliance with ESOS requirements leading up to the 5 December deadline. To date, our research has suggested that around two-thirds are aware of ESOS. Early indications of changes between waves are also suggesting that the level of awareness is rising as the deadline gets nearer.

“Decc has organised and spoken at events across the country – in autumn alone we estimate that we spoke to over 1,000 business representatives through Decc-led roadshows, webinars and other events.

“The Environment Agency sent over 13,000 letters to a named director at organisations which they believe may qualify for ESOS raising awareness of the scheme, highlighting the compliance deadline of 5 December 2015 and encouraging them to start taking steps to comply.”

Failure to comply

Decc estimates that ESOS could lead to businesses saving more than £250m a year on their energy bills if they reduce their consumption by less than 1% as a result of energy audits.

Failure to comply with ESOS will result in fines of up to £50,000 and possible charges of an additional £500 per day for up to 80 days. Conversely, it is not mandatory for businesses to implement any of the energy saving measures the assessments will suggest.

Mitchell added: “I’m disappointed that the ESOS legislation includes a financial penalty for those that do not comply with its requirements, and yet doesn’t make it mandatory for businesses to implement any of the energy saving recommendations that these assessments will produce.

“As a result, I fear the policy could prove to be something of a white-elephant, its potency significantly weakened by the fact manufacturers will see it more as a paper exercise rather than an opportunity to change their relationship with energy consumption.”

Read more about ESOS:

The role of ESOS will be discussed during Sustainability Live 2015, with a special panel discussion featuring the Environment Agency’s ESOS project manager Jo Scully. 

Register for Sustainability Live 2015 here.

Luke Nicholls

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