Energy efficiency policy is lacking says business

Posted on 28 Aug 2013 by The Manufacturer

A new report from the CBI has revealed that UK businesses think energy efficiency policy is failing while government focuses on the energy generation debate.

The CBI report, Shining a light: Uncovering the business efficiency opportunity, calls for the Government to put more focus on energy efficiency policies. It says there is a need to rationalise a confused landscape of incentive schemes for investment in efficiency technologies.

“Energy efficiency has slipped under the radar while the big debate [in government] has focused on energy generation,” said Rhian Kelly, CBI director of business environment policy. “There is a lot of potential for business energy efficiency if we can just overcome the challenges.”

According to the report these challenges gravitate around the need for:

  • Better b2b knowledge sharing on energy efficiency strategies
  • Better skills for exploiting energy efficiency investments and making the business case for investment in energy efficiency programmes
  • A more rational and accessible landscape of incentive policies
  • Financial support for SME investment in energy efficiency which reflects and leverages the policy landscape

Ms Kelly said that there was a marked interest among surveyed businesses in the b2b opportunity for improving energy efficiency through knowledge sharing and advice. She said that the CBI was now conscious of the need for better platforms to support this collaboration.

With regards to government support, Kelly observed: ” The businesses we spoke to told us the energy efficiency policy landscape is lacking,” Those surveyed said it was “hit and miss” and “did not support investment.”

While acknowledging that the UK was “an early mover on energy efficiency policy” compared to much of the rest of the world the report authors were clear that it is time for government to straighten out “the tangle of overlapping policies that are bureaucratic, complex and costly.”

The report finds that smaller firms are being discouraged from investing in energy efficiency because of they are confused by the policy landscape and raised concerns that leaders in energy efficiency are discouraged from making progress because of bureaucracy.

“Our concern is that companies who are collecting data on their energy use and carbon emissions are being discouraged from optimising that data because different schemes ask them to cut it through different spread sheets. That is just unhelpful and bureaucratic,” said Ms Kelly.

The report also shone a spotlight on requests from energy intensive businesses, including manufacturers, for better government support for investment in combined heat and power technologies.

“CHP has fallen between the gaps of DECC’s heat and electricity policies,” said Michelle Hubert, CBI principal policy advisor, energy and climate change. “Our conversations with energy intensive users showed a clear need for government to move this policy area forward.”

The report claims there is inertia in the government bodies which should be responsible for supporting investment in energy efficiency, such as the Energy Efficiency Deployment Office and the Green Investment Bank.  It asserts that the UK might miss out on a commercial opportunity if energy efficiency is not made a priority since the energy efficiency market for technolgies and services is growing at a rate of 4%. It is now valued at £17.6bn and supports 136,000 jobs in the UK.

The report includes a case study on energy efficiency strategy at tyre manufacturer Michelin. It also identifies the bank RBS as representing best practice in helping businesses find the optimum finance option for energy efficiency investment.

To read the full report, click here.