On-site generation revealed as key net zero tactic for businesses, but more support is needed to realise ambition


A new report has revealed that 50% of businesses are planning to invest in on-site generation as part of their decarbonisation strategies, despite the challenging economic climate. However, many are calling for additional support and incentives, with the research showing that two thirds (63%) don’t feel that the latest government policies and strategies have given them the confidence to invest.

‘Plot Your Path to Net Zero – A Focus on Sustainable On-Site Generation’ saw npower Business Solutions (nBS) consult with over 50 businesses on their on-site generation plans, choices and potential barriers to investment. Thanks to falling costs and its relative ease of installation, solar PV is the top option for businesses that have either already invested (77%) or are planning to invest (66%) in an on-site asset.

Combined heat and power (CHP) has already been installed by 38% of businesses, biomass by 23% and wind by 15%. Similarly, when it comes to investment plans, CHP was chosen by a third of respondents (33%) and wind by a quarter (24%).  Biomass, however, was the least popular choice, with less than 10% saying they were planning to install it.

Other answers included batteries and energy storage, as well as ground or air source heat pumps, with several organisations stating plans to combine a renewable energy source such as solar PV or wind with storage to help protect against intermittency and ensure a more stable supply.

Demonstrating its important role in helping businesses decarbonise, on-site generation was also ranked top of a list of measures where organisations said they would welcome more governmental support, ahead of energy efficiency and electric vehicles (EVs). However, a large proportion of respondents – 63% – didn’t feel that the recent and current government policies did enough to give businesses confidence to make the investment.

With proving return on investment and access to funding highlighted as the two main barriers for respondents, doing more to encourage businesses to invest in on-site generation will need to be a priority for government in its forthcoming policies, as Anthony Ainsworth, Chief Operating Officer, Industrial and Commercial Energy Sales and Solutions at E.ON UK and nBS, comments, “While it is encouraging to see 50% of the businesses we spoke to are already on their on-site generation journey, that means there are still another 50% where it is not in their immediate plans, either due to lack of funds, or because they don’t believe it is suitable for their organisation.

“On a positive note, there is now a significant choice for commercial installations, so while conducting a thorough site feasibility assessment is important, on-site generation is now possible for a large number of businesses. Other routes to renewable energy could include a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), where no upfront capital is needed.

“That said, it is clear more needs to be done to give businesses the confidence to invest, particularly after what has been a very challenging year.  Supporting them on their road to net zero will be crucial to the UK hitting its targets, so it is important that any forthcoming policies take this into account.”

Businesses recognise the benefits of on-site generation – when asked to rank the benefits, reducing emissions was top, closely followed by reducing energy invoices. Other benefits businesses cited were increased stability of supply and the ability to integrate the asset with other low-carbon technologies, such as energy storage or EVs.

Anthony Ainsworth continues, “For us, on-site generation should be one of the key considerations for organisations when they are planning their carbon reduction strategies. Our research tells us that while many businesses are willing to invest, there needs to be more support to give them confidence to do so.”

To download a copy of the report, discover more at https://npowerbusinesssolutions.com/roadtonetzero


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