With emissions targets high on the agenda, how can businesses ensure they’re doing their best to monitor their consumption and generate power efficiently?
If the UK is to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2020, organisations will have to take a more proactive role when it comes to reducing their carbon footprint. The government estimates that in order to meet that target, energy efficiency will have to increase across all sectors and energy use per capita will have to decrease by up to half of what it is today. So how can businesses implement simple changes to help reduce carbon emissions and meet these targets?
1. Understand your current consumption
Before you can take any steps to reducing your carbon footprint, you need to understand what you’re up against. The first action is to take stock of your current energy consumption in order to assess where you can improve and benchmark your usage against other businesses in your sector.
Consumption data for gas and electricity will need to be collated in kilowatt hours (kWh) from bills or meter readings and recorded on at least a monthly basis. This will enable you to benchmark any improvements against the previous month and set targets.
2. Implement monitoring and targeting
Monitoring and targeting (M&T) techniques allow organisations to better control and manage their energy use, saving money and cutting carbon emissions in the process. The Carbon Trust identifies an M&T scheme as having the following benefits:
- Allowing an organisation to detect avoidable energy waste.
- Quantifying savings achieved from energy projects and campaigns.
- Identifying worthwhile lines of investigation for energy surveys.
- Providing feedback for staff awareness and improve budgeting and benchmarking.
- Setting performance targets for your organisation.
By combating avoidable energy loss, your organisation will reduce not only its carbon footprint, but also its energy spend.
3. Consider energy efficient generation
By simultaneously generating usable heat and power in one highly efficient process, Combined Heat and Power (CHP) is an attractive option for a lot of organisations to cut emissions. The process allows for the use of heat which would otherwise be wasted, and as a result has a high overall efficiency of up to 80% or more at the point of use and can reduce carbon emissions by up to 30% compared to conventional generation.
The advantages of CHP
The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) identifies that for many organisations, CHP offers the most significant single opportunity to reduce energy costs and improve environmental performance.
- CHP typically has an efficiency of over 80%.
- Operators typically save around 20% on energy bills.
- Operators can save up to 30% on carbon emissions.
- Transmission and distribution losses are reduced.
- Fuel supply security is increased.
The government has also introduced a number of support mechanisms to incentivise CHP in the UK. CHP plants may qualify for exemption from the Climate Change Levy, Enhanced Capital Allowances and Business Rates Exemption. They may also qualify for support from renewable energy incentive schemes such as the Renewables Obligation, the Renewables Heat Incentive and Feed-In Tariffs.