Guest blog: Mervyn Bowden – Efficiency has slumbered into a coma

We seem to be going through one of those odd but increasingly common, doldrum periods when little seems to be happening in the energy efficiency sector. This is a source […]

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By Sumit Bose

We seem to be going through one of those odd but increasingly common, doldrum periods when little seems to be happening in the energy efficiency sector.

This is a source of immense frustration to the services providers, the potential investors and ultimately is a major blocker to progress for UK plc.

This appears to be a symptom of a wider problem in respect of a slowdown in economic growth despite much recent focus on energy efficiency via the Energy Saving Opportunities Scheme and its EU equivalents.

So what is going on to fuel the malaise?

The Referendum

A huge amount of completely inane nonsense has been spoken and written on this subject raising the thought of why we’re having a referendum at all. Once again this is an opportunity for many, not least HM Government, to focus on the myriad of details when what matters is the big picture.

What it’s creating is uncertainty. Uncertainty about staying in, leaving, whether the EU will exist in five years’ time, or expand…you’ve heard it all already and the referendum most likely won’t solve it.

What’s the answer? Probably to wait until 24th June 2016 – but then it might still all look the same when it comes to uncertainty!

The oil price

Lots of factors affecting global energy prices but in terms of energy efficiency investment, they don’t look as healthy for returns on investment as they have been or will be.

Regulation

Well, regulation’s a bit woolly if you use ESOS as an example but it’s pointing in the right direction (if nothing else is). Of much more significance is waiting to hear what the fiscal and incentives package in the UK will look like for the future. There is hope that the Government, for once, might have listened – but to whom?

Policy on energy

Let’s move on to something else!

De-skilling

Why are so many organisations divesting themselves of senior energy managers and replacing them with junior or multi-function roles? Are there enough skilled people out there, at all levels, to deliver the pent-up demand for energy efficiency once the brakes are off?

The upshot?

I find it totally depressing that there is currently a huge amount of investment funding available, viz the Investor Confidence Project and billions of private finance, which might have been spent on delivering renewables, which is now struggling to find a home in energy efficiency.

Everyone, on all sides of the equation, should surely be asking themselves the question ‘Where can I get a better return on my investment than in energy efficiency projects?’

As a client CFO/CEO when should you be doing this? NOW – what are you waiting for?

An energy solution is definitely not an energy solution if it never happens or even if it’s allowed to gather dust whilst you carry on wasting through unnecessary consumption. My advice is ACT NOW! or you’ll live to regret it (if you’re there long enough).