By Anthony Ainsworth, COO of npower Business Solutions
For more than a year, the UK energy market has experienced a period of unprecedented volatility, with resulting high wholesale prices impacting all businesses. While policymakers have now put short term plans in place to offer some relief from rising energy prices, a longer-term and more sustainable approach is needed to help businesses reduce energy demand and limit their exposure to the global markets.
That said, many businesses are already taking control of their own energy future by investing in sustainable on-site generation. It’s easy to see why, not only does it provide businesses with a route to lower energy costs, increased self-sufficiency and reduced dependency on the grid, it also helps reduce emissions.
But, looking beyond this, it could also enable them to play a crucial role in reducing the UK’s overall dependency on imported natural gas.
This is something our latest report – The Future of Energy: The critical role of business in a zero-carbon world – investigated.
Via Imperial Consultants, we commissioned Dr Gabriel D. Oreggioni from Imperial College London to provide his own independent opinion and conduct scientific modelling on the future potential of sustainable on-site generation technologies, including wind, solar photovoltaic (PV), battery storage, biogas and biomethane.
The goals of the report were two-fold:
- Firstly, to find out whether these on-site technologies could support the grid and replace energy generated by imported natural gas by 2035, ensuring we meet the 2035 deadline of reaching a zero-carbon power system.
- Secondly – but arguably most importantly – the report examines how organisations that invest in on-site generation could benefit from the different types of technologies available, breaking down the possible opportunities by sector to offer truly valuable guidance for business energy decision makers.
Businesses: the new power generation
The Future of Energy report concludes that power generated by businesses has the potential to revolutionise the status quo and set the UK on the path to decarbonisation and energy independence.
Crucially, the report findings also suggest that businesses investing in the right on-site generation technology now will reap significant benefits, by future-proofing their operations, cutting energy costs and reducing exposure to volatility in the marketplace. Over time, they will also help to reduce energy invoices for all businesses, by doing their bit to help balance the grid and increase energy security.
The scenarios explored in the report show that by 2035:
- on-site wind capacity within commercial and industrial facilities could reach between 6 and 29 GW
- installed roof-top solar PV could account for 6.5GW
- biogas power generation could be up to 16TWh
- hydrogen and biomethane injection could be close to 33 and 7.5TWh, respectively
In addition, it will lower energy costs, with the overall levelised cost of electricity for the proposed options ranging between £49 and £261/MWh, significantly lower than current wholesale prices.
Crucially, it will also support the net zero ambition, with emissions savings of up to 6.7MtCO2/year.
It shows that businesses really do have the power to shape our energy future.
 Study carried out May-June 2022