SMEs urge Government to provide energy efficiency grants

A large proportion of Britain's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) believe that the Government should provide grants towards the installation costs of energy efficiency measures, according to a survey from the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC).

In partnership with energy provider British Gas, the BCC surveyed more than 2,100 British businesses – 91% of them SMEs – and found that 36% believe “most important thing” that the Government could do for businesses would be to incentivise energy efficiency installations through grants.

The survey revealed that businesses are already aware of what energy measures could be put in place, with only 8% requesting more information. In total, 15% of those surveyed felt that the energy savings would not prove beneficial due to current installation costs.

BCC’s director of research and economics Mike Spicer said: “These results demonstrate that getting the economics of investment right for energy efficiency is crucial to promoting take-up.

“At a time when businesses face growing upfront cost pressures from other sources, grants and tax breaks have an important role to play in offsetting the cost of new energy efficiency measures. On its own, more information won’t do the job.”

Figures from the survey revealed that just 13% have seen a decrease in energy costs over the last three years. In comparison 35% have seen energy costs rise in this time period, while 37% state that costs have remained the same.

More than a quarter of those surveyed – which currently rent their facilities and premises – revealed that they have zero input or influence on energy efficiency improvements, with the BCC calling on landlords to do more for leaseholders that were “looking to save money and make their energy use work for them”.

In total, just 6% of respondents felt that a wider use of smart meters was the “most important thing” that the Government and suppliers could implement to help firms – with an £11bn Government plan to install smart meters in every UK home and small business by 2020 in danger of becoming a “costly failure”.

British Gas’s managing director of UK business Gab Barbaro said: “It’s clear from this research that businesses in rented and leased premises need more help from their commercial landlords, and new regulations to tackle the least energy-efficient premises can’t come soon enough.

“I’d urge all businesses to seek help from their supplier or landlord, and start with the basics. For example, by applying for a smart meter, businesses could much more accurately work out what’s driving their energy use and make considered decisions about how to reduce it.”

Green assets

The survey comes just days after fellow “big six” energy company SSE launched a new 100% renewable energy product, which certifies that businesses purchasing electricity have done so through a renewable portfolio of wind and hydro assets.

Matched to Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origins (REGOs), SSE Green will allow organisations to report zero emitting purchased electricity as part of mandatory GHG disclosures in annual reports.

Ahead of next month’s edie Live event, SSE Enterprise’s energy analytics manager Paul Keigher explained how internal energy data management was creating a cultural shift among staff and igniting an energy-conscious behaviour change.

Matt Mace

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie