Companies risk fines of up to £50,000 if they fail to comply with new Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme.
Process plants represent some of the most energy intensive facilities in the country, and plant owners have long been familiar with the need to improve their energy efficiency and bring costs down.
However, how many are familiar with a new piece of legislation that enshrines the need to carry out an energy audit of their sites into law?
According to a survey conducted by npower at the start of the year, nearly half (49%) of British manufacturers were unaware of the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), and 45% said they were unprepared for the compliance deadline at the end of this year.
If we want to encourage the business community to embrace energy efficiency we must do a better job of making the case for it
npower Business Solution’s Wayne Mitchell
The compulsory scheme, the UK’s response to the EU Energy Efficiency Directive, is applicable to companies with more than 250 employees or an annual turnover over £50 million and balance sheet over £43 million.
These companies must be compliant with the scheme by 5th December 2015, and there are three main routes to compliance: appointing an assessor to carry out an energy audit that meets ESOS requirements; participation in the government’s Green Deal scheme to improve the energy efficiency of building; ISO 50001 (Energy Management System) certification.
Failure to comply with ESOS will result in fines of up to £50,000 and possible charges of an additional £500 per day for up to 80 days.
Wayne Mitchell, head of npower Business Solutions, criticised the government’s promotion of ESOS after his company’s survey of 100 manufacturers found that 69% of respondents did not feel well informed about the requirements for carrying out an ESOS assessment.
“There are significant shortcomings in the way the policy has been communicated and will be implemented,” said Mitchell.
“I strongly believe that if we want to encourage the business community to embrace energy efficiency then we must do a better job of making the case for it to do so.”
Mitchell added that he was disappointed the ESOS legislation includes a financial penalty for those that do not comply with its requirements, while at same time there is no requirement for businesses to implement any of the energy saving recommendations that ESOS assessments will produce.
“As a result, I fear the policy could prove to be something of a white-elephant, its potency significantly weakened by the fact that manufacturers will see it more as a paper exercise rather than an opportunity to change their relationship with energy consumption,” he said.
Standards beat assessments
Mitchell’s view was backed up by others in industry, who regard the ESOS assessment as a meaningless bureaucratic exercise and instead champion adoption of ISO 5001 certification.
Speaking at an Energy Institute event in London in January, Martin Fry, chairman of the British Standards Institution energy management and standards committee, said exemption from having to carry out ESOS energy audits was just one of the benefits of ISO 5001 certification.
First published by the International Standards Organisation in 2011, ISO 5001 focuses on continually improving a company’s energy management performance through a range of measures, including identifying where energy is being used and the introduction of controls to manage energy use.
It also introduces company-wide and facility-specific targets for reductions in energy usage, forcing companies to act on the findings of their energy audits.
This is in stark contrast to the lack of action required by the ESOS assessments, according to Bert Lunenborg, production manager for British Gypsum’s Robertsbridge site.
The plasterboard manufacturer’s UK sites have been ISO 5001 certified since September last year.
Also speaking at the Energy Institute event, Accelerating Energy Efficiency, Lunenborg said it made sense to adopt a system that would provide a tangible business benefit.
“If you have the opportunity I would go for ISO 5001, because you will have a system that forces you to take on your audit findings and deliver energy savings,” he said.
“I personally can’t understand just doing an audit [without having to act on it], because then it is just another report that will end up in the filer, and nothing will change.”
Both the Energy Institute and manufacturers’ trade body EEF have published guides to help companies ensure they are compliant with ESOS ahead of the December 5th deadline.
For more information, visit their websites: EEF ESOS Guide and Energy Institute ESOS resources.