Our business clients range from SMEs to large companies including not-for-profit companies and charities.

What they often have in common is a desire to cut their expenditure on energy by decreasing demand, switching to cheaper tariffs and looking at the options for renewable generation.

Typically businesses look for quick returns on their investment. This makes sense when energy prices are reasonably stable, but when they are on an upward trajectory as they are now it can be risky, as it mitigates against strategic decisions. So we are working with business clients to develop risk management approaches to controlling energy costs, and looking at the benefits of behavioural as well as technical interventions.

Recent case study

A proactive approach to managing bottom-line energy costs

Tobacco Factory interior

For businesses, above inflation increases in operating costs either have to be passed on to customers, absorbed by cost reductions from elsewhere or addressed through increased sales.

Over the past five years energy costs have been steadily rising, but for practical reasons, the response of many businesses is often short-term rather than strategic, leaving them vulnerable to longer term price increases.

When the Tobacco Factory Theatre in Bristol needed to install a cooling system for the theatre auditorium they wanted to find a way of offsetting the capital and running costs as well as CO2 emissions. Their assumption was that energy costs are likely to rise over the next decade and by reducing exposure to these the organisation would make itself less vulnerable and more resilient.

We considered a number of renewable technologies for the Tobacco Factory of which PV was the strongest candidate. Not only did the roof orientation and structure lend itself to PV, but a high proportion of the electricity generated by the system would be used in the building.

Benefits of this approach included:

  • A reduction in the amount of energy (electricity) which has to be purchased from retailers.
  • A 25 year revenue stream from feed-in tariffs which are index linked.
  • Attractive return on investment, particularly if energy prices exceed inflation and when measure against fixed loan/finance costs.
  • Reduced exposure to above inflation rises in the cost of energy.
  • Great PR value – enhanced through a public display in the foyer.
  • A good way of helping to raise and sustain awareness about energy use amongst staff, visitors and customers.

PV system on Tobacco Factory theatre One of the often ignored features of strong, and sustained (5 to 10 year) increases in energy costs, is a cumulative interest effect. By adopting a strategic approach the TF has significantly reduced its exposure to a rising bottom line cost.

To date the (22.5kWp) system has exceeded the anticipated annual yield of 19125kWh per annum by up to 29%. This and energy price rises since the system was installed have served to improve what were already attractive return on investment figures.

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