Manufacturers invest £1m a week in onsite generation projects

Posted on 2 Jul 2014 by Callum Bentley

36% leap as firms look to cut costs and secure supplies

Concerns over energy costs and security of supply is driving major growth in the number of manufacturers investing in onsite generation projects, new figures have revealed.

The latest Energy Entrepreneurs Report compiled by SmartestEnergy shows a 36% jump in the number of commercial scale projects in operation across the manufacturing sector in Great Britain since last year’s report.

In total, an estimated £53.3m has been invested in 38 new projects – an average of £1.4m – and taking the total invested in recent years up to £164.3m.

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The 144 sites of 50kW capacity or more now in operation can potentially generate £83.8m worth of electricity a year, enough to power over 392,000 homes. The combined 362 megawatts (MW) of capacity represents a 32% increase on last year’s figure, the second highest growth seen across business sectors after the minerals industry.

The most popular technology was solar photovoltaics, which accounts for 30 of the new projects with the remainder using onshore wind, biomass and anaerobic digestion.

Examples of investments in onsite renewables during the year include Bridgnorth-based ceramic tile manufacturer Craven Dunnill, which installed 496 photovoltaic solar panels now meeting over 50% of its energy needs.

Other projects of 50kW capacity and over in manufacturing include a 17,000-panel solar array at Toyota’s site in Derby; wind turbines at GlaxoSmithKline’s pharmaceutical plant at Barnard Castle and a biomass facility at McCain Foods site in Peterborough. The food and drink sector accounts for more than a third of total manufacturing onsite capacity.

The latest Energy Entrepreneurs Report reveals continued strong growth in onsite renewables across business sectors as companies look to mitigate rising energy costs, ensure security of supply and meet sustainability aspirations.

In total 85 new projects were commissioned during the year, a 25.5% increase on last year’s report with total investment of £56.5m.

There are now 418 commercial-scale onsite projects in operation, generating electricity worth around £109m a year for businesses at current prices.

Iain Robertson, Head of Generation for SmartestEnergy, said the report highlighted the changing approach to energy being taken by many businesses.

“Rising energy prices, concerns over security of supply and environmental concerns are seeing a continued appetite among businesses for investing in their own generation,” he said.

“These projects can deliver significant savings in energy costs, ensure continuity of supplies and also provide a new income stream from energy generated over and above the needs of the business.

“Consumers are also increasingly interested in the sustainability of companies whose products they buy and investing in renewable energy can be used to highlight environmental credentials.”

You can download the full report here