Improve your business and the planet by transitioning to sustainable energy. Embrace eco-friendly practices to boost efficiency and cut costs. Learn more...
Switching to sustainable energy doesn't end with the good it does for the planet. Increasingly, business owners are coming to understand the importance of doing so. Legislative changes will almost certainly come which further restrict the use of fossil fuels, and it’s always beneficial to be ahead of the curve on a matter like that. But this isn’t all about doing what you have to do or even the benefits for the planet. It also makes commercial sense to switch to sustainable energy.
Switching to sustainable energy comes at a cost, but it is an investment which can reap significant financial benefits in the medium to long term. Renewable energy source prices are more stable than gas and electricity because they don’t have a wholesale price which is subject to fluctuation. The cost of fossil fuels is only going to increase over time, while there is no reason for this to happen with solar, water or wind power.
There is little doubt that further restrictions on the use of fossil fuels are coming, and by being ahead of the curve you can ensure that your business is ready for these changes. Such is the importance of making these changes to the way we live and work that governments and other organisations are offering significant incentives, which may help to make these changes highly cost-effective for your business.
Climate change is already having very real and serious consequences for our planet, but it’s not too late to arrest and even reverse the worst of its potential impacts. Reducing your business carbon footprint is the biggest contribution that you can make toward achieving this aim.
It’s also the case that there is a growing level of expectation on the part of customers that your business will be proactive on this front. You can attract new business by promoting your green credentials, growing your company’s public reputation and earning a significant uptick in terms of your public image.
Sunlight is one of earth’s most readily available sources of energy. The amount of solar energy required to keep us going is minuscule; what reaches the earth’s surface in a single hour is more than the whole planet’s total energy requirements for an entire year.
But this does come with a not-insignificant caveat, which is that this energy is not received consistently. The amount of solar energy available fluctuates according to both the time of day and year, while geographical location is also important. Solar can be difficult to store, though battery technology is rapidly developing.
Wind is as freely available as sunlight, with turbines powered by wind farms driving generators which help to supply the National Grid. Wind farms have become an increasingly common sight in recent years, some premises can be suitable for domestic turbines, which is colloquially known as going “off-grid”.
With water, the power of water can be harnessed using turbines powered by the controlled flow of water from reservoirs. The dams required to be able to control that flow make these a huge infrastructural investment on the part of governments, but the benefits have been such that it has increasingly become a part of the energy landscape regardless. Hydroelectricity carries the significant benefit of being easier to store than solar or wind, which can help offset peak usage times.
The new kid on the block when it comes to renewable energy, bioenergy refers to electricity and gas that is generated from organic matter. This matter is also known as ‘biomass’. It comes from several different sources, from plants and timber to agricultural or food waste. Even sewage can be used. Like water, it’s an energy source which is quickly upscalable for periods of high demand, and converting solid fuel made from plant materials into electricity also comes at a lower cost.
Green energy tariffs are labelled as such if some or all of the units of electricity are ‘matched’ by units generated from a verified renewable energy source, such as a wind farm, solar array or hydroelectric power station. As the market has grown, so has the array of different tariffs available to businesses. But not all green energy tariffs are created equal, and ‘some’ in ‘some or all of the units’ can have to do some heavy lifting at times. Three companies lead the way, both in terms of providing commitment to and support for the industry as a whole.
Green Energy was founded in 2003 and is a highly respected business in the green energy sector, having won several awards from the consumer magazine Which? as the best utility company for customer service.
Ecotricity is probably the highest profile of the three companies mentioned here, thanks in no small part to the public profile enjoyed by founder Dale Vincent, who also owns Forest Green Rovers, the world’s first vegan football club. The majority of Ecotricity’s output comes from its portfolio of wind power generators, and they currently supply around 200,000 homes and businesses in the UK.
Formerly known as Green Energy UK (GEUK), 100Green was formed in 2001. Not only were they the first energy supplier to provide 100% green gas to domestic and business customers, but to this day they remain the only supplier who can provide 100% green gas to domestic customers.
It’s important to do your research when looking into the possibility of switching to renewable business energy sources because not all tariffs are created equal. Green energy remains more expensive to produce than fossil fuels, so it can start to increase in price once you get above the legal minimum required for a supplier to be able to call itself a ‘green energy supplier’ in the first place.
Depending on which way you opt to go, there can be significant set-up fees. If you’re looking to install solar panels, for example, the costs will run to thousands of pounds. But once they’re in place, the long-term return on investment can be huge. By feeding into the Grid yourself during the summer, you can even earn credits which you can use to offset higher usage of your own in the winter.
It’s important to understand the practical limitations of what you can and can’t do, with regard to green energy. If you rent office space in a tower building, for example, it’s unlikely that you’re going to be able to install solar panels, though you may still be able to switch to green tariffs which carry advantages for your business. The better you understand what you feasibly can and can’t do, the easier your decision-making process will become.
The shortest cut to changing these habits is to understand your company’s needs and what you are hoping to take from all of this. Do you have the space for the equipment required to go off-grid? If you’re looking to change suppliers to increase your business energy efficiency, what’s your business tolerance for the higher costs of a higher proportion of your energy use being renewable? What do your key stakeholders expect from all of this? Have a plan before you start.
The phrase ‘Renewable energy’ means different things to different people, and it can certainly feel like having to hack through a forest to get to the answers that you want when you’re considering making changes toward a greener future. Fortunately, though, there is a shortcut to make it less daunting. SwitchPal can compare trusted energy suppliers across the entire industry and offer you a range of options, simplifying the entire process for you. With financial benefits to be reaped and future-proofing to be done, making that switch is a decision that you can’t afford not to make.
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