Paul McCullagh says the ‘trilemma’ isn’t just a problem for national governments – increasing numbers of companies are now realising the threat it poses to their future.
Rising energy costs, the pressure of cutting carbon footprint and fears over the uncertainty of supply – the growing ‘energy trilemma’ is a major challenge facing every business in Britain today.
This ‘trilemma’ isn’t just a problem for national governments – increasing numbers of companies are now realising the threat it poses to their future.
However, leading renewable energy expert UrbanWind says more need to switch onto the challenge and examine their energy policies and strategies. It is urging businesses in all sectors to “grasp the nettle” and take a hard look at what they can do to meet the challenges they face.
Companies that are already doing this are looking at a wide range of responses. Today 94% of major energy users have or are actively pursuing an energy reduction programme.
There is also a growing appetite for on-site generation – which is allowing companies to cut their carbon footprint and is helping shield them from a volatile energy market. It can also be a valuable extra source of revenue.
Energy is now firmly on the boardroom agenda – with smart companies re-introducing the ‘energy department’, tasked with developing working strategies to help them meet the growing challenges ahead. It directors are also appearing in the boardroom, as rising costs, worries over supply and meeting carbon targets is pushed further up the agenda.
Paul McCullagh, CEO of UrbanWind, says businesses need to draw up clear and sustainable energy policies that tackle all three aspects of the ‘trilemma’ that threatens their future prosperity.
“Recent events surrounding gas supply to Ukraine and the news that China has signed a massive deal to import LNG may not seem to have much relevance to Britain’s businesses.
“But events like these have an impact on the nation’s energy security – and that does matter, whatever sector your business operates in, especially for energy intensive use.
“Security of supply is just one part of it. Rising energy costs – which are forecast to double by 2030 – and the need to meet carbon reduction targets are also major challenges for every business in this country.
“The impact on public and private sector organisations is enormous. Some experts are warning that energy costs could more than double within 10 to 15 years. Companies that don’t react to this threat will face very serious problems further down the line.”
“The focus on energy-saving measures we are seeing from major users needs to be adopted by all sizes of business.”
UrbanWind is seeing a rise in interest in on-shore wind turbines from businesses with land assets, as they give serious consideration to utilising on-site or embedded generation measures, as part of their approach to meeting the challenges they face.
Paul McCullagh continued:
“We now have more than 70 potential turbine sites in the planning process.
“We continue to see a surge of new customers and potential customers looking to become independent of the burden of ever-increasing power bills. It really has become a key issue.
“More and more companies, landowners and organisations like the idea of taking control of their energy needs and of the possibility of extra revenue streams that renewable energy brings them. We are in advanced talks with a number of major utility companies and commercial operations in a variety of different sectors.
“They are keen to look at how they can harness renewable energy at their sites, not only to cut their bills, but also to fulfil their carbon reduction targets and help secure their supply.”
UrbanWind also believes that the Government needs to do more to help businesses meet the challenges – by take a stronger lead over energy efficiency and by showing more support for renewable technologies.
It believes the Coalition needs to proactively highlight the investment needed to meet the energy challenges we face – and how we find that money to deliver security and environmental sustainability. Making clean and renewable energy sources more attractive to investors should be a key part of the strategy, the company added.
And, with the situation in Ukraine and other parts of the globe highlighting how important energy security will become in the future, UrbanWind said decisions made now will have massive implications in the future.
With growing energy demand in Asia and upcoming challenges in the global market, the problems are intensifying.
Paul McCullagh stressed there had been “much debate”, but now was the time for tangible action.
“Giving more emphasis and backing to energy efficiency measures and having the right mix of power sources, with renewables playing an important part in this, has to be the way forward for the UK. That is the place we need as a country to get to.
“While businesses need to look at their energy policy from top to bottom, so does our Government.
“Energy policy needs to be about more than soundbites about wind turbines or bashing energy companies about bill transparency.
“The country needs strong energy policy-making. We need to address the massive investment needed in our energy infrastructure and acknowledge the mix of generation that will give us security and help us hit our carbon emission targets.
“The reliance on imported and unstable gas sources has to be ended and that is a massive challenge that all the political parties have to address during the election campaign.
“Voters are concerned about the size of their electricity and gas bills. But, as a nation, we need to be concerned about how we are going to meet the growing energy demands of our industries and our homes. Support for renewable generation can provide value for money and help the mix. More transparent planning laws can make it easier for those who want to invest in this green technology.
“That’s why we need a joined-up, sensible and consistent approach to energy policy and that includes looking at the whole energy market and what can be done to make the system work better for businesses, for consumers and for investors.
“We also need to do more to support research and innovation, whether that relates to generation or delivery. Simply doing nothing will leave us literally in the dark.”