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Firms must start looking at how to cut energy use

We all want to save energy. Whether it is in our homes, offices or industrial plants, minimising monthly bills and helping reduce climate change are increasingly important factors that affect our everyday lives.

While at home it is relatively easy to ensure lights are not left on unnecessarily and electrical devices don’t spend endless hours on standby, for large businesses it’s considerably more difficult. That’s why the government has launched the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS).

Established by the Department of Energy & Climate Change, ESOS is a response to the requirement for all member states of the EU to implement Article 8 of the Energy Efficiency Directive. The scheme is estimated to lead to £1.6bn net benefits to the UK – the cost of running just over 1.2 million standard light bulbs for a year.

ESOS is a mandatory energy assessment and energy saving identification scheme for large companies in the UK.

To clarify this, a business qualifies as “large” if it has 250 or more employees, annual turnover exceeding £39.8m or a balance sheet exceeding £34.2m. If this sounds like your company, you need to do three things to comply with the assessment.

This involves companies completing three phases of action. Each phase must be completed within a four-year timeframe.

The first phase is to measure total energy consumption across buildings, transport and industrial processes. Energy auditing activity – for example, the Carbon Trust Standard dating back to December 2011 – can be used to support compliance, provided it meets the minimum requirements of ESOS.

Alternatively, if you have an ISO50001 energy management system covering your energy use, this is sufficient to constitute an ESOS assessment. This first phase must be completed by 5 December for businesses to be considered compliant.

The second phase of the assessment involves conducting an energy audit to identify cost-effective, energy-efficiency plans that a business can feasibly implement. The deadline for compliance of phrase two is 5 December 2019.

Finally, the third phase requires relevant firms to share a report of the previous step with the Environment Agency.

Using this self-diagnostic process, large companies can devise and implement energy-efficiency strategies to reduce running costs and help contribute to lowering the UK’s carbon footprint. 

At my company we know some shocking industry facts in regards to efficiency, or rather, inefficiency. For example:

  • Some 65% of the UK’s industrial energy consumption comes from electric motors alone. That’s a massive 20% of the country’s total energy consumption.
  • Using a variable speed drive on a motor can severely reduce energy consumption – in some cases, by as much as 60%. It’s therefore surprising that these humble devices are often neglected or even fitted improperly, rendering them useless.
  • Forgetting the financial costs of not implementing a variable speed drive, if just half of Britain’s electric motors were reduced in speed by 10% it would have the net effect of mitigating for the carbon emissions of 9.8 million executive saloon cars every year. That’s quite an astounding decrease – Mother Earth would certainly be pleased with that.

So if you’re a large company involved with ESOS, you might want to think about some cost- and energy-efficient tactics –maybe give us a call, as we’d love to help. It could benefit billions of people in the long run.

Jonathan Wilkins is marketing manager at European Automation

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