Attending conferences can sometimes be a hit and miss affair in this industry. After frequenting a few of these events, both in my current role as a sustainability consultant and in my previous career as an environmental manager in the construction sector, I am all too wary of how easily these events can turn into a series of sales pitches provided by various companies presenting.
I needn’t have worried, the conference, run by the Energy Institute, involved a series of half hour talks from various sectors on a wide variety of energy related topics, all of which were 100% relevant to EVORA and more importantly, our clients.
The talks provided valuable snapshots of the great work being undertaken under the umbrella of energy efficiency and also provided some solid information on the impacts of regulations and policies.
Here is a summary of key points.
Article 8 Across Europe
Dr Martin Krusker of Siemens was asked, “who has implemented the requirements of Article 8 the best across Europe?”
Answer, the UK. The opinion of ESOS across the UK varies widely (some organisations considered it a pure legal compliance requirement whilst others saw a real opportunity to drive improvement) and, as a result, I was not expecting this response. From my experience, I felt that many of the smaller organisations just captured by the scheme found it a burden. There is also the issue, the white elephant in the room, that nobody has to action anything identified within ESOS audits….
The Environment Agency were consistently vocal in their opinion that thousands of businesses were going to be non-compliant – even though, as far as I’m aware there have been no penalties served, as yet, on these businesses.
However, it seems that in comparison to the remainder of Europe the UK did a stand-out job. Nevertheless, it is clear we should not rest on our achievements, there is plenty to improve upon during the next compliance phase.
Progression with ISO50001
The ISO50001 Standard is to undergo review to align with the high level structure of other recently revised standards (ISO14001:2015 and ISO9001:2015). The expectation is that this will be issued in January 2019 with a three-year implementation period. If you want to get involved in the process of re-drafting the ISO50001 Standard, keep your eyes peeled for further updates on the EVORA website.
In Germany there is a tax incentive scheme for businesses which introduce ISO50001. Take-up of ISO50001 in Germany is therefore much higher than the rest of the world, Germany on its own accounts for more than 50% of all ISO50001 certifications. With Germany already being ahead of the UK in terms of renewable energy and pro-active energy policies it is yet another example of innovative policy making that results in German companies taking more responsibility in managing their energy consumption. I hope someday that the UK government will take as positive a stance as their German counterparts.
Energy Markets and Private Wire Systems
Talking about energy market costs culminated in a discussion on the potential of private wire systems to negate the continual rise of energy cost ‘add-ons’.
Historically, energy costs were made up of 60% the actual cost of a unit of energy with 40% added on for extras such as availability charges, demand charges, feed in tariff, climate change levy, distribution costs and so on. However, we are now moving to a point where this proportion is reversed, with 60% of energy costs being from ‘add-ons’, therefore the fluctuation in the actual cost of energy is making up less than half of the total cost of energy.
A private wire system removes these ‘add-ons’. Although only generally applicable to large demand energy users located in feasible areas, the opportunity to tap into local renewable energy projects in order to save costs and use a renewable supply is becoming an attractive option to some. This could become a viable option for some businesses if the proportion of ‘add-ons’ in energy costs continue to grow towards an unsustainable level.
Thoughts for the Future
These were just three of many talking points of the day. Although the next ESOS compliance deadline may seem like a distant worry, this event served as a reminder of the importance in determining how you can get the best out of a proactive energy management strategy (and value for money!)
However, as sustainability professionals we must lead by example and the venue was a timely reminder that there really is a long way to go before sustainability is naturally embedded. The conference room included multiple large halogen lights giving off vast amounts of heat combatted by huge industrial fans for cooling leading to a stuffy energy intensive bubble. A considerable faux pas for an energy management conference! Additionally, the travel information provided prior to the event listed detailed car directions, car parking facilities and airport links (with details of taxi journey lengths) before even mentioning train or bus options. Without joined up thinking and understanding, sustainability will never become the norm.
The event lasted for a day, but the topics discussed will be key themes in the sustainability arena for years to come.
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