According to Carbon Brief, the UK’s energy consumption has fallen to its lowest level since 1994. This can be attributed to both consumer and business energy efficiency. In 2020, more and more businesses are realising that energy efficiency brings about multiple financial, operational and societal benefits. So much so that companies are spending more than £345 billion on energy efficiency and sustainability initiatives.
In this article, we look at eight emerging innovations expected in 2020 and in the future that will drive further energy efficiencies.
1. Artificial Intelligence
Disruptive technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be the new energy watchdog in the workplace. AI allows for real-time analysis of energy use, instantly alerting people when energy is being wasted.
2. Digital and data
As businesses become more digitalised, this enables better data collection. This data can be analysed to drive the business’ energy efficiencies. Having accurate data also allows stakeholders to build a clear business case to justify and measure efficiency efforts.
Today’s energy monitoring software allows businesses to identify energy cost-saving opportunities, improving profitability and competitiveness.
A new network of smart, clean energy systems is replacing large-scale power plants. Businesses are increasingly installing solar panels on their rooftops or investing in other renewable energy devices, as evinced by the UK’s recent record-low carbon emissions. As energy generation changes, we’re seeing the rise of micro-grids — smaller grid systems that are linked to localised power sources. For example, buildings with their own solar panels generating additional energy may be connected to nearby homes.
With the rise of micro-grids and peer-to-peer electricity networks, companies and governments facilitating these exchanges can choose to record these transactions using blockchain. This allows the microgrid’s accounting to be decentralised and shared by everyone on the network. The likelihood of hacking is reduced since all stakeholders have their own, up-to-date copies of the ledger.
5. Heat recovery
Championed by the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, The Industrial Heat Recovery Support (IHRS) programme is designed to encourage and support investment in heat recovery technologies. Running until March 2022, the programme helps businesses of any size to identify and invest in opportunities for recovering and reusing heat that would otherwise be wasted. This recovered heat can be used with the same facility or by another user.
6. Innovative finance models
Especially for small and medium-sized enterprises, funding is one of the biggest barriers to business energy efficiency. Although some government subsidies are ending for renewable schemes, investors around the world are looking to invest in green projects with safe returns, such as many energy efficiency initiatives. One example of the various financial models available includes the lease of energy-efficient equipment. Savings made on energy bills are then used to recover the investment cost over several years.
7. Energy storage
As battery costs come down, it’s becoming more realistic to store energy. Combined with the rise in on-site energy generation, businesses can become increasingly self-sufficient and manage their own energy supplies.
8. LED lightbulbs
Although LED lightbulbs are not a new invention, there are new ways to switch to this energy-saving technology. We know that traditional incandescent light bulbs not only consume an excessive amount of electricity, but are also replaced more frequently than energy-efficient alternatives.
However, energy-efficient bulbs are more expensive off the shelf, which can prevent companies from making the initial investment. That’s why Smarter Lighting supplies and installs bespoke LED lighting solutions for a fixed monthly fee, which is more than covered by business energy bill savings. We handle the upfront cost, installation and maintenance of your LED lighting; your business benefits from lower energy bills and a reduced carbon footprint.
Partner with a broker
Your business energy broker should be able to advise you on the best innovations and energy-saving solutions that will help your business set and meet energy-efficiency targets and save money on energy bills.
Need expert advice? Get in touch with a Smarter Business energy consultant today.