UK firms say finance remains key barrier to energy efficiency


one penceFinance remains the biggest perceived barrier to energy efficiency investment amongst small and medium-sized enterprises and the public sector, according to a survey of company managers and directors conducted by The Energyst.

Apathy at board level and distrust of claimed savings are also significant hurdles for those trying to implement energy efficiency improvements.

The findings form part of a broader survey on attitudes to energy efficiency within public and private sector organisations.

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To date, 115 surveys have been completed, of which 39 are classified as SMEs (up to 250 employees) or the public sector. Those respondents were not obliged to take an energy audit under the Energy Savings Obligation Scheme (Esos). However, more than two thirds (69%) have conducted an energy audit within the last two years. Roughly half of those subsequently took some form of action, the vast majority of which was LED lighting upgrades.

While that suggests reasonable appetite to improve efficiency, half of non-Esos respondents (53%) said finance was the biggest barrier to investment for their business. Almost a quarter (23%) cited distrust in measurement and verification (M&V) of claimed savings, while a fifth (20%) said board level engagement was a barrier.

Roughly half (47%) of the SMEs and public sector organisations surveyed are already half-hourly metered, which means they may be exposed to increasingly volatile energy prices in the coming months, although these price signals may be dampened to an extent by policy interventions. However, that overall percentage was skewed upwards by public sector respondents.

The vast majority of respondents (83%) were aware of the potential for within-day price spikes and almost six in ten (58%) have some form of onsite generation, suggesting potential for mitigation.

The survey will form part of  an Eon-sponsored report to be published at a free breakfast briefing in London on 23 November. We have a limited number of seats for businesses that that wish to discuss how to overcome barriers to energy efficiency improvements. Click here to secure your seat.

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  1. Interesting re SMEs especially. Incidentally the standard Europe-wide definition of an SME is up to 500 rather than 250 employees – would using that definition alter any of your conclusions?

    • In short no. We went with UK gov’s SME definition as UK focused survey. So far there are only 12 responses from firms with between 250-500 employees, and survey’s structured so that those captured by Esos take a different set of questions. There are only a handful of complete responses to date from 250-500 employee firms not captured by Esos, too few to draw conclusions.

  2. Working closely with a global insurer, in many cases we are able to offer insurance backed energy savings for technologies and projects that qualify.

    Jason J Hunter, Associate Director, Energy Efficiency Finance DIvision – Capitas Finance Ltd


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