The UK has recently experienced a bout of wintery weather, with 1st March being the coldest on record. This cold front arrived as the National Grid warned of a gas deficit – the first warning in 10 years – with fears over low supply levels.
As the ‘Beast from the East’ hit the UK, storage was dangerously low with less than 1,000mcm of gas – representing a capacity of only 65%. Simultaneously – due to cold temperatures – gas usage soared across the country, rising to more than 80cmc per day. This resulted in the deficit warning and a dramatic decline in storage levels.
While the warning has now been rescinded, temperatures are set to continue to be lower than average for the time of year. Add to this that there are no tankers due to replenish UK supplies, and gas storage remains a pressing issue. This could prove to be a problem for British businesses.
Although temperatures have now risen above freezing, and gas usage has now decreased, the UK is continuing to experience colder weather than would be expected for this time of year. As such, there are still fears over gas stock levels. Should this shortage become a large problem, this could severely impact businesses – particularly for companies with gas-dependent industrial facilities.
In addition to concerns over supply, worries over price will be another major factor for businesses. While hikes are unlikely to occur at the present time, utility firms may factor the current cold spell into their risk premium, resulting in price rises further down the line. This means that businesses must begin to manage their utilities to reduce impact.
Unless a business has high energy consumption – such as temperature-controlled warehouses – many often give little thought to their utilities. This issue highlights the need for businesses to adopt better utility management. But there are ways that businesses can – and must – better manage their utilities, both to boost bottom line and safeguard against any future deficits.
One such method is smart controls. These can help a business to manage utilities in a myriad of ways. One such example is smart meters, which provide accurate information on energy consumption, helping businesses to reduce usage.
Another is smart controls, which can be operated remotely, providing a way to monitor and reduce consumption when away from the office.
As a safeguarding measure, businesses could consider installing on-site energy sources. Solar panels could reduce risk, ensuring there is no disruption to service and allowing a business to continue to function. They can also lower utility bills and make a business greener, lowering its carbon footprint. Furthermore, businesses may also qualify for a government grant when installing renewable energy sources.
Finally, fostering a green culture among your company’s workforce is a good proactive step to managing utilities. This could include encouraging cycle to work schemes, car sharing, turning off equipment when not in use, or providing incentives for green employees.
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