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UK PLC must change its perception of energy efficiency, experts claim

UK PLC must change its perception of energy efficiency, experts claim

UK businesses must change their perception of energy efficiency if technologies and professionals in the space are to achieve their potential, experts contributing to round table discussions have concluded.

Clean Energy News last week hosted a pair of round table discussions designed to get to the heart of issues facing the clean energy landscape, welcoming a number of industry experts from across a range of sectors.

Both discussions were held on Friday following the formal launch of Clean Energy News, with specialists from across the renewable heat market welcomed to the morning session. On the day that saw the Department of Energy and Climate Change release the latest figures for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), the event was perfectly placed to gauge the mood across the sector.

With contributors from across trade associations, installer firms, manufacturers and Ofgem, the debate broached topics including challenges facing installers on the ground to tackling the reasons why renewable heating technologies have yet to come to the fore of UK energy.

During the two hour discussion, Tim Pollard, head of sustainability at Wolseley, pointed to the need for Gas Safe installers to be approached with an alternative to the normal systems they work with. Kelly Butler of BEAMA and Lesley Rudd from the Sustainable Energy Association both added that higher tariffs could help to boost technologies struggling to grow under the scheme.

However, the key issue under discussion was the MCS scheme, which acts as a certification and accreditation scheme for both installers and technologies under the RHI. While the idea behind such a scheme was deemed correct, the structure of it was judged to be in doubt.

Isaac Occhipinti of the Energy and Utilities Alliance and the Heating and Hotwater Industry Council claimed these issues have been noted since he entered the industry in 2008, but with Ofgem’s response to a recent consultation on how to judge an equivalent scheme due, the speakers could soon get a chance to work on an alternative.

Those present concluded that the jury was out on what the future RHI would look like due to the dual nature of the MCS scheme. However, the need for it to promote the industry – in the way that the Gas Safe register does – was considered essential. Mark Krull, director of Logic Certification, pointed to the need for a key performance indicator to be written into the scheme to require it to promote and communicate with its installers; a notion met with wide ranging approval.

The afternoon saw the focus shift to energy management, with a whole new range of expert contributors welcomed to share their views on the importance of this sector and the challenges it faces.

On the back of the ESOS scheme being completed, the discussion began with the likelihood that the scheme would lead to a wide take-up of energy efficiency measures before moving on to the pitfalls faced by ‘energy champions’ across all industries.

From budgetary constraints to the problematic value of payback as a metric for success, the panel were unanimous in their desire to see the perception of energy efficiency change within companies across the UK. Sandy Abrahams, partner at Lux Nova, said: “The problem being that the energy manager has a limited role with a limited budget and that energy efficiency is simply seen as a cost that is added to a whole number of business running costs. It’s not seen as an opportunity or a business investment which it should be.”

As Paul Boreham of UX Energy Services added: “I suppose the holy grail for an energy manager is and always was that we ought to have our own energy budget and the savings go into that and that funds the investment. That has never happened in my 35 years as an energy manager.”

Speakers including Mongoose Energy managing director Jan Willem-Bode and Alex Rathmell of Minimise Solutions and EEVS Insight went on to discuss the need for board level support of energy management and the importance of carrying out packages of work including a number of measures to improve performance.

The two events highlight the growing presence of Clean Energy News as a forum for debate and coverage within industries due for growth as markets move towards a low carbon future. They also helped build momentum towards the upcoming Clean Energy Summit, which has already attracted an impressive list of speakers to Twickenham in April.

Clean Energy News will continue to host round table events on these topics and others to promote debate and provide a forum for a range of topics to be discussed. To find out how to get involved in future discussions, contact Chris Riley on criley@solarmedia.co.uk or +44 (0) 207 866 4922