SMEs more fired up by renewables, but only 11% measure carbon footprint


Two surveys out this week show small businesses’ apparently dual attitude towards Net Zero.  Purchasing low carbon power backed by REGOs increasingly interests small firms, but vanishingly few have time or expertise to measure their carbon footprint.   A new webtool launched by O2 and the British Chambers of Commerce is designed to remedy the latter.

A rolling study by analysts Cornwall Insight finds that a renewable energy offering in a supplier’s portfolio comes behind only to dedicated account management among SMEs’ preferred features, when they assess competitors.

Questioning 60 small enterprises and their energy brokers, the analysts find in numbers released today that low carbon power has advanced as an attraction from sixth place in 2018 in SMEs’ assessment of suppliers, to second last year.

Study manager Molly Lloyd said; “Data from our Cornwall Insight survey shows that Renewable Electricity Guarantee of Origins (REGOs) or renewable propositions increased in the order of importance for (intermediaries and SMEs) for services beyond energy procurement”.

Another survey for SME umbrella group the British Chambers of Commerce has found that nine in every ten small and micro-businesses have no plans to move towards Net Zero. Among a sample of over 1,000 firms, only 11% with under fifty employees measure their carbon footprint, even though over half are aware it’s a concern for customers.

High upfront costs, and a reported lack of finance to strip carbon from operations, are the big deterrents, each cited by a third of firms.

Only 13% have set targets to reduce their emissions, the research shows. That’s down from 21% in February 2020, before the pandemic.

BCC head Shevaun Haviland said: “This research shows just how big a challenge the UK’s net zero target is”.

“The dual impacts of the pandemic and Brexit have been a huge body-blow to many businesses, so it’s unsurprising that targeting emissions has taken a back seat”.

In response, partners Virgin Media O2 are offering a free online tool to help SMEs calculate how much renewables could shrink their carbon footprint.

Jo Bertram, the telco’s businesses managing director said: “In May, the Government called on small businesses to lead the charge and pledge to reach net zero by 2050 or sooner. Our research shows that to do this, they need more support”.

The partners’ free online tool is here.


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