‘Unprecedented’ was probably the most overused word of 2021. And with good reason. We saw so many unexpected and ‘never seen before’ events unfold, not least in the energy sector.

Record prices in the wholesale energy market, record numbers of energy suppliers going bust, record levels of changes (and fees) to non-commodity charges, and record volumes of net zero related plans and strategies from the government.

So, as we start this new year, what should your priorities be as a large energy consumer?

Here are my top five recommendations:

1. Engage

First and foremost, do not procrastinate – there are important energy related issues that need your attention now. The market is still in turmoil, net zero related regulation will start ramping up, and both the wider supply chain and consumers are expecting the companies they do business with to take action. Your business cannot afford to be left behind – it is no exaggeration to say your bottom line and your reputation are at stake.

2. Review your purchasing strategy

If the events of last year taught us anything, it is to plan ahead and be prepared. When it comes to buying energy, an effective hedging strategy is key. Too many businesses got burnt last quarter after leaving purchasing volume to the most expensive time of year – which then got a whole lot more expensive. So, revisit your strategy with expert input. Our Optimisation Desk is here to help flexible purchasing customers. Or if you are on a fixed contract, do not leave it too late to renew. I recommend speaking to your energy partner at the earliest opportunity.

3. Get your data straight

Net zero targets mean understanding exactly where and how you are generating emissions is going to be key (and likely mandatory very soon). A sophisticated energy management system will help you monitor power and gas consumption throughout your organisation – and the related emissions. Depending on the nature of your business, sub-metering can also help to provide more granular detail about specific energy uses, such as machinery, lighting, or temperature control. This will enable you to accurately track reductions and impacts from steps 4 and 5 below.

4. Maximise energy efficiency

When you are looking at creating an impressive net zero strategy, energy efficiency can seem rather unappealing. But it is absolutely vital, as without minimising what your business currently uses, it is far harder to accurately predict your future requirements for big ticket items such as low-carbon heating systems or on-site generation assets. A detailed audit of your site(s) is a good place to start, then you can decide where and what to target. And the money this ultimately saves you in reduced energy costs can be used to finance investment in new energy-saving or low-carbon technologies.

5. Look to invest in wider decarbonisation measures

Considering Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHPs) or biomass boilers? Investigating an electric vehicle (EV) delivery fleet or utilising Demand Side Response (DSR) with on-site battery storage? Thinking about installing solar photovoltaic (PV) or negotiating a corporate Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)? There are many ways to support your business’s journey to net zero. But there is no ‘one size fits all’. You need to get expert support to work out what would best suit your business’s objectives and circumstances.

Of course, some of the technologies we need to get to net zero are still not commercially available, such as fully decarbonised heating solutions. And all the regulations and requirements that businesses will need to comply with have not yet been clarified.

But remember, we are here to help you navigate your way through this uncertainty. So, pick up the phone or set up an appointment. Your first port of call should be your Client Lead or Account Manager (existing customers). Or drop us an email to info@npowerbusinesssolutions.com

Wishing you a productive and lower-carbon New Year!

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