Small businesses can play a key part in carbon reduction

Written by: Johan Ostlund | Published:
Johan Ostlund, director at CooperOstlund

As a new report from the Federation of Small Businesses claims that one in 10 of all small businesses in the UK now produce their own electricity, Johan Ostlund, director at CooperOstlund, calls for the greater uptake and support of combined heat and power (CHP) technology.

Small businesses act as energy consumers, suppliers of energy products and even investors, and it is encouraging to now see that 10% are becoming generators. These impressive statistics highlight the proactive and entrepreneurial nature of British business towards minimising mains energy reliance and it is therefore important the government now utilises this enthusiasm and effectively supports businesses looking to take their first steps in self-generation.

Cost-effective and simple to set up, CHP remains one of most viable forms of power self-generation. According to the Association for Decentralised Energy, it also offers both financial and environmental benefits, with the average CHP plant achieving a minimum 10% energy savings over and cost savings of between 15% and 40% over electricity sourced from the grid. These attributes mean it has the potential to play a significant part in helping to achieve our energy requirements, security of supply and carbon reduction targets.

For businesses, large and small, having the capability of generating their own electricity is an important step in meeting carbon targets, contributing to the UK becoming more self-sufficient with energy supplies. We need to reward this progress and encourage larger businesses to implement similar initiatives. However, there is always more work that can be done.

We expect to see greater levels of self-generation in 2017. A great example of this in action is the Andigestion AD facility in Cheltenham which operates entirely independent of the grid. By generating electricity and heat from an on-site CHP engine, the plant creates enough power to run its operations 24-hours a day. All surplus energy is exported to the grid, generating further revenue for the facility.

CHP is simple, cost effective and highly sustainable. We would encourage the government to increase support for the industry through improved subsidies and a new carbon plan. It is imperative for our economy and our environment to continue to maintain the momentum we have seen and to recognise and reward the businesses already generating their own energy, while using this best practice to encourage more and more companies to follow suit.

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