Firms reveal burden of the CRC

16th September 2011

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Only 5% of participants fail to submit data, as firms reveal the administrative burden of the scheme

Initial figures from the Environment Agency suggest that the vast majority of businesses and public sector bodies covered by the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency (CRC) scheme have handed in their first-year reports on time.

Just 254 of the 4,549 reports expected did not reach the agency by the 29 July deadline, seeming to contradict reports from earlier in the year suggesting that more than 10% of participants were struggling to prepare the required reports while others were willing to be fined rather than comply with the scheme’s complex requirements.

Following the high compliance rate for submitting reports, the agency confirmed that the first performance league table will be published as planned in the autumn. At the same time, DECC asked organisations to detail, in a survey, the costs of participating in the CRC as it seeks to simplify the scheme during phase II, which starts in 2013.

Each participant has had to collate and present two reports to cover the first year of the scheme, which started in April 2010 – a footprint report summarising all the energy they were supplied with in the previous year and an annual report detailing emissions that fall under the CRC.

Jonathan Garrett, group head of sustainability at infrastructure firm Balfour Beatty, says that the second of these reports was the most difficult to put together.

“If the scheme was restricted purely to half-hourly metered data it wouldn’t be a problem. But the requirements on top of that made the whole process very, very resource intensive,” he said. “We had to compile huge amounts of information for the reports, with one spreadsheet containing 27,000 lines of data.”

To ensure it could meet the requirements of the CRC, Balfour Beatty created two new full-time job roles to manage the process. Meanwhile, Thomas Cook estimates it spent 125 days in preparing for and understanding the scheme.

Victoria Barlow, group environment manager at the travel company, confirmed that the main difficulties lay in sifting through 900 sources of data and reclassifying operations in line with the CRC’s categories.

Garrett at Balfour Beatty argues that a failure to understand the realities of businesses may have caused many of the problems. “The CRC just wasn’t designed for complex organisations and the government doesn’t seem to have appreciated the difficulties the requirements would cause on the ground.”

Both Garrett and Barlow agree that existing proposals to improve the scheme do not go far enough.

“We support the CRC and its aims,” said Barlow. “But after spending more time and resources than we anticipated on the first reporting process, we support a simplification of the scheme that allows organisations to focus more on making energy efficiencies.”

Initial estimates indicate that more than 60 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions were reported on in this first year of the scheme, which equates to more than 10% of the UK’s total annual CO2 output.


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