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How businesses are profiting from sustainable energy opportunities

4 ways organisations can tackle escalating business costs by transforming energy into a driver for value and growth.

The impact and changing restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for many organisations to accurately forecast output, sales and the cost of doing business.

The roll-out of the vaccination programme has sparked renewed hope. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) now expects the global economy to grow 5.5% this year — a 0.3 percentage point increase from previous forecasts. Nonetheless, as their Chief Economist Gita Gopinath notes, “much now depends on the outcome of this race between a mutating virus and vaccines to end the pandemic, and on the ability of policies to provide effective support until that happens.”

In such an unpredictable environment, many organisations are looking to make extra cost efficiencies. Tightening up on energy spend is an obvious focus area. Many organisations have committed to ambitious net zero goals, but they aren’t in a financial position to incur large capital costs in the process.

Advances in technology and flexible finance options mean that there are many ways to reduce energy costs, generate revenue and reduce carbon emissions, all at the same time, and with little up-front capital. Many organisations are already doing it – but how, and why? Here are a few of the ways organisations are becoming more cost efficient and profitable by harnessing sustainable energy opportunities.

Driving energy efficiency through data

How can energy make your organisation more profitable?

By monitoring and measuring energy consumption, organisations can improve operational performance and reduce costs and carbon. By monitoring equipment with low-cost, wireless sensors, businesses can quickly gain deep and insightful energy analytics. This can help to pinpoint where energy waste is occurring. It can also help to spot costly potential equipment failures before they happen.

Implementing predictive analytics can help your business to adjust operational processes to optimise performance and turn energy visibility into cost savings. Additionally, the more you know about your energy profile, the better you can inform your investment options.

Energy Insights Solutions in action

Ink specialist Fujifilm installed 22 sensors at a UK production facility, which uncovered two equipment faults. By remedying these issues, the company realised a £43,000 annual cost saving, achieving a return on investment within just 3 weeks.

Unlocking revenue opportunities

How can energy make your organisation more profitable?

By increasing or decreasing energy generation or usage at time of grid instability or peak energy use, organisations can help balance the grid through digitalised energy management solutions, such as Demand Side Response, Demand Side Management and Utility Optimisation Platforms. You’ll be financially compensated in return, creating a new source of revenue for your business. And, by installing onsite generation or battery storage assets, your business can increase the range of flexibility it provides – enhancing the monetisation value that can be achieved.

This will become increasingly important as we move towards a higher renewables grid system, where intermittent energy sources can make it more challenging to balance supply and demand.

Optimisation in action:

Demand Response enables LafargeHolcim to operate their plant in Obourg more flexibly. If needed, it can switch off its large clinker mills and smaller coal and slag mills during periods of peak energy consumption, with full transparency of the energy consumption and cost implications. 10MW is returned to the grid during peak times, and they’re financially compensated in return.

Generating your own sustainable energy

How can energy make your organisation more profitable?

Distributed energy technologies such as onsite generation can deliver greater efficiencies and contribute to growth. Advances in technology that enable off-grid generation are an opportunity for organisations to reduce their reliance on the grid, and get greater control and management over energy.

Combined Heat and Power (CHP) is an intelligent and efficient process that works by converting gas into electricity and heat in a single process on your own site. Rather than heat going to waste, it can be reused sustainably. It can provide budget stability through predictable electricity costs and accurate forecasting of operating expense. And, if it’s combined with on-site battery storage, you can store the energy generated and use it at times of peak demand, when energy is more costly.

Using CHP on-site generation can reduce energy costs by up to 40% and unlock greater sustainability benefits by using renewable methane rich bio-gas to fuel the CHP process. By providing a stable, secure energy supply your site resilience is enhanced, protecting you from energy supply disruption.

CHP in action

The London Aquarium requires consistent heating 24/7 throughout the year to maintain the temperatures of it’s tanks. Their new CHP is delivering the heat they require, while reducing their energy costs by £150,000 and reducing their annual carbon emissions by 190 tons.

Becoming a sustainable business

How can energy make your organisation more profitable?

Customers are increasingly choosing to buy from environmentally conscious brands. Our Distributed Energy Future Trends report found that two-thirds of companies believe it won’t be government intervention that will be the main agent of sustainable change. It will be market demand.

Many organisations are responding to this by investing in solar PV installations to power their business with 100% renewable energy, which can boost their brand reputation. Solar energy is one of the most cost-effective methods of improving both financial and environmental performance. But it also has the added benefits of enabling organisations to generate revenue by selling excess power back to the grid; reduce energy costs during peak price times by combining solar with energy storage; and earn revenue from supporting the grid through Demand Response programmes.

Solar in action

We've created the UK’s largest factory-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) system for Toyota, which is powering the company's first European Model Sustainable Plant at Burnaston. The 17,000 solar panels are supplying 5% of the plant's electricity.

Read detailed insights on the 5 proven ways you can gain competitive and environmental advantage for your business

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