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80% of businesses believe a quarter of energy needs will be generated onsite by 2025

Research identifies opportunity for businesses to unlock competitive advantage through their energy strategy

Most businesses will take control of their own energy use by generating a quarter of their electricity onsite by 2025, with 77% of businesses in the UK and Ireland predicting this change will take place in just seven years.

In a study of over 1,000 businesses, Centrica Business Solutions has been working to identify the key drivers and barriers to adopting new energy approaches including battery storage, on-site generation and demand side response.

Around a quarter (26%) of businesses have already invested in on-site generation in the form of solar and/or combined heat and power (CHP) with a third1 considering investing in these technologies. The increase in demand for flexibility that sees businesses rewarded for increasing, decreasing or shifting their energy use has been identified as an opportunity by 44% of businesses planning to feed energy into the grid in future.

The study of businesses from the UK, Ireland, US, Canada, Germany and Italy identified that ‘energy leaders’, defined as those businesses that have adopted strategies to use energy efficiently and effectively, were more than twice as likely to unlock competitive advantage from their energy. Businesses reported strong financial performance, being a leading brand in their market, and attracting and retaining the best talent.

The survey also revealed however that while 29% of businesses in the UK and Ireland consider themselves to have a formalised energy strategy in place, far fewer have specific targets or budgets in place to support their ambitions. For example, despite half (52%) of respondents citing having back-up in the event of a power outage as very important, just 18% have specific targets in place to address this. In a similar vein, only 16% of businesses have set targets to support the link between sustainable energy use and brand image despite being identified by almost half (49%) as very important.

Alan Barlow, Director of UK & Ireland at Centrica Business Solutions, said: “It’s a great sign that businesses in the UK and Ireland are really forward thinking when it comes to their energy. Taking control of their energy use is clearly important to them, and companies think they’ll be on the road to achieve this in a short space of time.

“This is where an energy strategy comes into play. Many of the global challenges facing businesses – emissions targets, risk reduction and increased onsite generation – can be addressed through better energy management. 

“But getting an energy strategy right is key to unlocking these benefits, and achieving that ambitious 2025 prediction. Firms need to ensure that the energy challenges they have identified are covered in their strategies and have clearly defined actions, targets and budgets against them.”

132% considering or planning to invest in solar in the next two years, 30% considering or planning to invest in combined heat and power (CHP) in the next two years