In the current climate – business, economic, and environmental – going green for businesses is no longer an option, it is a strategic necessity. Not only are prospective consumers of products and services increasingly making buying decisions based on the environmental attitude of brands and organisations, but the guardians of commerce are steering this approach too. Take for example, Tripadvisor, which millions of hospitality businesses rely on to promote their offerings. TripAdvisor operates the ‘Greenleaders’ initiative which rewards businesses who have strong environmental policies with a Bronze, Silver, or Gold award, which is shown against the business’s listing. This then allows travellers to make decisions regarding where they stay and how they travel, to minimise their environmental footprint.
Another area which is highly dependant on the use of green energy is information technology data centres. It is estimated that the world’s IT infrastructure, including data centres and critical networking technology uses in the region of 7% of the global energy supply. UK data centres know that they must innovate and use green technology and energy supplies because not only does this save money and help the planet, it is increasingly demanded by businesses. Another factor is that by leveraging onsite power generation and energy storage technology, data centres are less reliant on external supply.
Here are four ways your business can leverage the latest developments in clean energy technology, to attract the increasing number of eco-conscious clients, reduce your environmental footprint, and save large sums of money.
Buy green energy from the energy suppliers
In order to make environmentally responsible decisions regarding energy supply, it is first important to understand the distinction between brown, blue, and green energy. Brown energy is derived from non-renewable fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and coal. Blue energy, on the other hand, uses low carbon or carbon-free sources. Green energy, which is becoming increasingly utilised and in-demand originates from natural resources like sunlight, wind, and water.
Contrary to consumer perception, green energy prices are falling each year, and these cost reductions are being passed on to consumers and businesses. According to a key report by the International Renewable Energy Agency, in 2018, “the global weighted-average cost of electricity declined 26% year-on-year for concentrated solar power (CSP), followed by bioenergy (-14%), solar photovoltaic (PV) and onshore wind (both -13%), hydropower (-12%), geothermal and offshore wind (both -1%)”. And crucially, onshore wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) energy are now frequently less expensive than all fossil-fuel options, even without subsidies.
By working with a specialist energy broker such as Maximeyes, it is now possible for businesses to tailor their energy profile, and to purchase from different sources, based on their specific needs and industry.
Reducing consumption onsite using energy efficiency measures
An increasing number of new buildings, including commercial premises and offices are achieving a net-zero carbon status. In June 2019, the UK Parliament enshrined into law, the net-zero target, committing the country to reducing emissions to at least 100% less than 1990 levels by 2050. Energy-efficient building design will play a vital role in ensuring this target is met. Solutions such as automated lighting which ensure energy is used only when it is needed can save businesses vast sums of money each year. Other approaches which can reduce energy consumption include planting shade trees in strategic locations to reduce air conditioning costs, using natural light where possible to reduce the need for artificial lighting, and implementing LED lighting.
Utilise onsite generation – solar panels or CHP units
The price of green technology and onsite power generation is constantly reducing. While residential properties can implement solar and battery technology at a much lower cost compared to even five years ago, businesses can do the same on a much larger scale. The large footprint of commercial buildings means that solar panels in the form of photovoltaic cells can produce most if not all of the energy demands of the building, and what remains can be sold back to the national energy grid. Another onsite power generation technology, ‘combined heat and power’ (CHP), is also providing considerable benefits to businesses. With CHP (also known as ‘co-generation’), heat energy which is a by-product of generating electricity can be used to heat and cool buildings and provide hot water. CHP can reduce carbon emissions by 30% compared to conventional means and save around 20% on energy bills.
Buy energy direct from a solar or wind farm
If your business is serious about becoming as green as possible while maximising the savings to be made, the best way to achieve this is to buy like the big boys and purchase your electricity directly from solar and wind farms, through a corporate power purchase agreement (PPA). What makes it possible to buy energy directly from a solar or wind farm is a concept called ‘sleeving’. This allows a large business to buy electricity at much lower commercial rates from the generator, and the utility company to route the energy to the purchasing business.
Corporate PPA’s have historically only been available to the largest businesses, but as a result of falling minimum entry costs, smaller businesses can now take advantage of this model of purchasing green energy directly from the source.
Many businesses are looking for ways to save money and underestimate how much they stand to recoup by taking a broader look at how they source and use energy. The market for green energy has advanced so much in the last five years, and new purchasing options are continually emerging. The cost of entry for onsite energy production and corporate PPAs has dropped considerably in 2020 and businesses across the UK should now be considering how they can take advantage of this shift in the market while boosting their green credentials. You have nothing to lose and a great deal to gain.