Three actionable steps for adding on-site renewable energy solutions to your business

Amid rising energy costs and pressure to reduce carbon emissions, the need for businesses to transition to clean energy has become more urgent. Here, we explore actionable steps for energy and sustainability professionals aiming to drive the clean energy transition using on-site solutions.

Three actionable steps for adding on-site renewable energy solutions to your business

Image: Centrica Business Solutions

As businesses worldwide strive to better manage their energy to achieve carbon emission reductions and cost savings, many are turning to onsite generation solutions, particularly in the technology, manufacturing and retail sectors.

These solutions, which include heat pumps, rooftop solar panels and electric vehicles (EVs), offer promising ways to manage energy consumption, carbon, and costs.

While these solutions are becoming increasingly commercially viable, some challenges to implementation persist. These include ineffective models or decision frameworks for assessing risk and return, leadership’s failure to recognise the business case for on-site solutions, and a lack of understanding of the appropriate energy generation technologies.

edie recently hosted an hour-long online masterclass to help energy and sustainability managers navigate these hurdles and make onsite energy technology a viable part of their net-zero strategy. Here, we summarise the key takeaways.


The energy trilemma

CBS’s net-zero consultant Nebin Babu pointed out during the masterclass out that carbon emissions, energy consumption and costs are directly related, and organisations can address tall parts of the energy trilemma at once.

The challenge is to balance these three factors—energy consumption, carbon emissions, and costs—to find the sweet spot that allows solutions to move forward effectively. Solutions must reduce costs, emissions and energy consumption simultaneously.

Babu outlined a strategic approach to starting the clean energy transition process:

  • Planning: The first step involves establish a clear plan that identifies the current state of the business’ energy consumption, desired goals and the roadmap to achieve them. This strategic roadmap should detail what actions to take, when to take them, the costs involved and account for potential risks and market volatility.
  • Cutting phase: The second step includes focusing on increasing energy efficiency and reducing energy consumption and waste. This phase involves no-cost to low-cost measures, such as behavioural changes and energy efficiency infrastructure upgrades. Accurate data is crucial here, as it enables greater control and actionable energy insights. A bottom-up approach with granular data is more effective than high-level readings.
  • Conversion phase: The last step involves transitioning from fossil fuel-based technologies to clean energy alternatives such as solar, heat pumps and electric vehicles (EVs). Selecting the right technology depends on achieving a balance between energy, costs and carbon emissions. If one technology alone doesn’t strike the right balance, implementing a solution like a long-term corporate power purchase agreement (CPPA) can mitigate future market volatility.

Babu emphasised that only after completing these steps should businesses consider offsite solutions such as renewable energy generation of origin (REGO) certificates or carbon offsetting. Certain energy companies have ceased investing in REGOs, asserting that they do not effectively decrease emissions in the energy sector in practical terms and may mislead consumers.

The business case for clean energy transition

Centrica Business Solutions (CBS), in collaboration with FT Longitude, recently published a report surveying approximately 500 organisations across Europe to explore the impact of energy data management on business operations.

One of the major challenges highlighted by the CBS research is that business leaders are failing to see the business case for onsite energy generation.

According to the report, 47% of business leaders do not recognise the business case for on-site solutions.

FT Longitude’s senior editor, Stephen Edwards, emphasised that successful decarbonisation and energy efficiency hinge on having accurate data and implementing it effectively.

Babu elaborated that this issue stems from a lack of understanding of how individual solutions fit into an end-to-end net-zero business case. Indeed, a recent survey from PwC found that more than half of UK businesses identify a lack of immediate solutions as the foremost barrier impeding their efforts to accelerate energy transition.

However, Babu argued that it is no longer a choice, but a necessity for business leaders to transition to clean energy.

He explained that sustainability has shifted from being a “nice-to-have” a decade ago to a “need-to-have” in today’s world. Achieving net-zero emissions is not tied to short-term business or election cycles; it is a long-term objective.

Babu warns that the UK and Europe have binding carbon emissions reduction targets, and deviating from these targets will incur significant costs for businesses. Therefore, transitioning to clean energy is essential to align with global sustainability goals, avoid future financial penalties and ensure long-term business viability.

He concludes: “The destination is set. If you try to take a de-tour in opposite direction, it will come as a cost.”


This masterclass was initially aired live on 14 May 2024.

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