UK manufacturing has untapped efficiency potential

The UK’s manufacturing sector has “untapped potential” to increase energy efficiency which could lead to a 12 terawatt-hour (TWh) reduction in annual electricity consumption, according to new research.

A new study published by the UK’s manufacturers’ organisation, the EEF, found that the UK’s manufacturing sector has an estimated 14 per cent in electricity efficiency still open to it through cost-effective measures.

Furthermore the report, entitled ‘Upgrading power: delivering a flexible electricity system’, discovers that efficiency measures had a 20-month payback period, with a significant proportion of these measures having no capital investment at all.

The study is the result of research and analysis of audits carried out under the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS).

According to the report, the potential of all of the suggested energy efficiency measures could lead to the manufacturing sector reducing its annual electricity consumption by 12 TWh, which is the equivalent of 4 per cent of the UK’s current annual total and with approximately £1bn in savings.

However, EEF members have argued that under the UK’s current energy policies this significant potential will not be achieved.

Only 34 per cent of those surveyed felt that the recent ESOS audits had provided them with information they didn’t already have, with the study indicating that most companies are already aware of the potential energy efficiency savings available to them, but are not taking them.

The report highlights several possible solutions to the lack of reform, including the development of a fully-fledged Electricity Demand Reduction scheme. The EEF also explains that manufacturers can contribute to the security of electricity supply by taking part in demand side response (DSR) activities, which would reduce their electricity bills and earn additional revenue at the same time.

Currently there is an estimated 9.8 GW of DSR available in the UK, however DSR activity amongst manufacturers remains relatively limited, with only 9 per cent of survey respondents taking part in some form of DSR activity.

Lucy Symonds, Director of Public Policy at Open-Energi, claims that with £1bn available, there is a huge opportunity for businesses to benefit from Demand Side Response.

“With over 20 different DSR schemes and products to navigate, it is no wonder they feel bewildered. Simpler markets and a level playing field which lets DSR compete on the same terms as power generators will save energy, reduce costs for consumers and reward businesses for taking positive action,” she said.

“The challenge rests with policy makers to make regulation fit for purpose in a modern age of energy innovation."

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