Almost half of manufacturers in the UK are unaware of the energy saving opportunities scheme (ESOS), a poll by energy company npower Business Solutions has found.And, despite having to complete their first assessments under the scheme by early December, 45% of companies report being unprepared for the deadline, while 69% claim to feel uninformed about ESOS.
The mandatory scheme will affect around 7,000 businesses. Companies that fail to comply with the 5 December deadline face fines of up to £50,000, npower warns. It wants the government and energy suppliers to make a stronger business case for manufacturers to do more on energy efficiency. "There are significant shortcomings in the way the policy has been communicated and will be implemented. I strongly believe that if we want to encourage the business community to embrace energy efficiency we must do a better job of making the case for it to do so," said Wayne Mitchell, head of npower Business Solution.
Gareth Stace, head of climate and environment at EEF, warns that many manufacturers, particularly those still planning their strategy on energy efficiency, will find ESOS a challenge. "While Decc has taken every opportunity to ensure the scheme has remained as straightforward and flexible as possible, many organisations will find the requirements of ESOS a significant undertaking and will need help in achieving them," said Stace.
The energy department estimates that firms implementing just 6% of the measures identified by the assessments will save a cumulative £1.9 billion between 2015 and 2030. But Mitchell says the poll findings suggest that many firms may not benefit. "ESOS may seem like another policy that just brings more costs for manufacturers, but we see it as a significant opportunity to reduce the pressure on your bottom line. Energy is one of the least optimised costs in a business and yet, by implementing simple efficiency measures, the average business could reduce consumption by 20%."
Under the scheme, firms with at least 250 employees or an annual turnover of more than €50 million and a balance sheet exceeding €43 million will have to complete an energy assessment every four years.