Nikki Flanders, SSE’s Energy Customer Solutions Managing Director, outlines funding options and discusses doing business better post-Covid-19.
I have attended a number of events the past month focussed on how businesses see net zero in the context of our current Covid and economic situation. In particular I took part in the Future Net Zero Online event that had an audience of businesses of all sizes across multiple sectors who asked some great questions.
Prior to the webinar, Future Net Zero had compiled a survey which included SMEs and larger corporations; nearly 74% said the current situation does not mean net zero ambitions have been pushed back, and almost 79% said now is the perfect opportunity to follow through going carbon-neutral. This is a strong indicator that despite the uncertainty, there is positive alignment that net zero is the destination; the challenge is how do we get there together, particularly with the current business environment.
Our CEO Alistair Phillips-Davies wrote to the prime minister at the end of May, laying down a five-point plan for how the UK can get to net zero. SSE’s greenprint proposes a net zero power system by 2040, strategic investment in networks, a clean industrial revolution, leading the charge on electric vehicles, and green buildings for green jobs.
Our role in Energy Customer Solutions is to support businesses in weaving net zero together with recovery and growth. There are a number of practical routes businesses can take to support them on this journey.
In very simple terms a business customer can think about their journey in the following way:
Energy efficiency can be a great way to save money and reduce a company’s carbon footprint. A good place to start is an energy audit to review your consumption and identify opportunities. We work with SSE Enterprise to provide energy audits to our customers. There are great examples across businesses where it’s created a team challenge and encouraged working together to change behaviour.
Data is key to understanding and unlocking energy efficiency. Research has shown that using a data tool can reduce expenditure by about 10%. In Business Energy we offer SSE Clarity, an online energy management and reporting platform free for our customers. And when there’s an intensity of smart meters, we’ll be able to use that data to make sure the whole energy system is as efficient as possible.
Once a business understands its current energy use, opportunities can be identified and benefits realised. Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) optimise operations at your sites, monitored via our Energy Management Centre who can fix most issues remotely or provide on-site engineering support when needed. Our Remote Optimal platform optimises energy usage throughout sites based on data analysis and averts problems with remote alerts.
Today, businesses of all sizes can access 100% renewable accredited energy through our SSE Green Electricity and Gas contracts. Choosing green energy demonstrates to customers, staff and other stakeholders a commitment to sustainable energy resources. We provide certification, logos and other resources to allow businesses to publicly demonstrate their commitment. Our mission is to make green energy and efficient energy solutions as accessible for our customers as possible, so that they can easily access net zero solutions for tomorrow.
The next step on the journey is moving onto low carbon energy solutions like solar installs, battery storage and on-site generation. There are several grant options that a business can access from Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), organisations like Carbon Trust and commercial banks, some of which offer dedicated green products. Public sector organisations can access interest-free government funding via Salix. We can point to proven financial case studies that demonstrate that the benefits cases are improving every year. For larger organisations you could look at an Energy Performance Contract where you can create your energy efficiency strategy and fund physical upgrades through guaranteed savings.
Our relationships with customers have branched out well beyond just the provision of energy to a more embedded and trusted energy and services partner so we can all work towards net zero together.