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Many business owners will want to switch business energy for a variety of reasons. They may be unhappy with the service they are currently receiving from their existing supplier, looking to save money on a new tariff or simply want a more sustainable energy plan. Some will even want all of the above.
However, if you were to switch to a renewable energy plan, would you get better customer service and be able to take the first steps towards sustainability? On top of this, how important is the future of sustainability for businesses across the UK? We hope to provide answers to these all-important questions.
What is sustainability in business?
Plain and simple, your business operations will have an impact on the economy, society and the environment. Sustainability touches upon all three of these as they affect people, the planet and profits.
You will need to endeavour to make a positive impact in one or all three of these areas. Fortunately, it is now easier than ever before to move your business towards an environmentally sustainable future. Renewable energy tariffs are now far more competitively priced and accessible to all.
As governments across the world come together to reduce carbon emissions and sign off on new policies, sustainability measures are becoming increasingly important, especially to a growing number of small business owners.
Why do businesses in the UK invest in sustainability?
When it comes to business, the bottom line will be the top priority for most. Implementing new energy efficiency measures will definitely help to cut costs. Efficiency and cost saving are the primary reasons why UK businesses invest in sustainability initiatives.
Businesses that are able to make a larger investment will definitely benefit from solar panels and small wind turbines to generate their own renewable energy. Yet, even simple steps like fitting LED bulbs and draught excluders around doors and windows can have a noticeable impact.
In the modern economic and political climate, green credentials are important to customers and clients. This makes investing in sustainability initiatives essential to gain a competitive edge in the marketplace. It is imperative to encourage sustainability if you want your firm to be seen as ethically and environmentally responsible.
Why aren’t more businesses switching to a green energy deal?
More than 50% of business owners report that they have not been given the option to switch to a green energy tariff. This lack of opportunity seems to be the biggest barrier.
Right now, renewable electricity plans are widely available for both domestic and commercial customers, but there is a lack of renewable gas tariffs. This particularly affects hair salons, cafes and restaurants that are powered by gas.
A small percentage of customers (less than 10%) believe that switching takes too long, requires additional effort and believe they won’t be able to save much money. This is simply not true as many customers who conduct a gas and business electricity comparison often report that they were able to save hundreds, sometimes even thousands of pounds per year through a business energy comparison site such as BusinessEnergyUK.Com.
Are green business energy deals more expensive?
Less than 5% of business owners thought that green energy tariffs cost less than other energy plans on the market. For this reason, we decided to do a little research.
To start with, it is important to understand that all commercial energy contracts are tailored to meet the unique requirements of any business, no matter what its size or the industry it operates within. There are numerous factors that will determine what rates each company is expected to pay for its gas and electricity supply. For this reason, it makes it difficult to outrightly state that green energy contracts are cheaper or more expensive than their non-renewable counterparts.
Nonetheless, there is growing evidence that renewable electricity is actually cheaper to generate than power produced through the use of fossil fuels. Over the past decade, the price of renewable electricity has decreased enormously. This has been achieved through technological innovations, economies of scale, increasingly competitive supply chains and growing developer experience, according to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
Cost data from 17,000 projects was analysed in 2019. Costs achieved in 56% of all newly commissioned utility-scale renewable power generation capacity were lower than the cheapest fossil fuel-fired option on the market.
At the start of 2020, renewable sources overtook fossil fuels for the first time in providing power to the people of the United Kingdom. More than 40% was generated in the first three months of this year, useful to know for anyone who has questions surrounding the available capacity of sustainable energy.
Moving forwards, there is no reason why these deals should be any more expensive than any standard energy deal as renewable energy has the capacity to meet the country’s energy demands and is getting cheaper to produce each year.
How can a green energy deal help with sustainability?
Straight away, you will no longer be reliant on fossil fuels with a green energy tariff. You will be reducing carbon emissions into the Earth’s atmosphere as you won’t be contributing to the depletion of the planet’s finite resources.
Traditionally, business electricity has been generated through burning coal and gas to produce steam. This steam will then spin within a turbine to generate electricity. Renewable electricity in comparison is generated through utilising the power of sunlight through solar panels, wind through wind turbines and water via hydroelectric generators.
As for green business gas, a process called anaerobic digestion is used to produce this. This creates gas – or biomethane – from biodegradable materials. In comparison to fossil fuels that have traditionally been used, biomethane is renewable and virtually carbon neutral, this means that it does not contribute towards climate change.
Suppliers will normally provide businesses with electricity that has been generated from 100% renewable sources when you opt for a renewable electricity tariff. You may also find that with some providers, some or all of the electricity you buy is ‘matched’ by purchases of renewable energy made by your supplier on your behalf, something worth noting. Regardless, this is a more ecological way to power your business.
Unfortunately, green gas isn’t as widely available as green electricity, due to the technology not being as accessible. Hopefully this too will change in the years to come.
If you’re unable to factor in the initial outlay to generate your own sustainable energy, switching to a green energy plan is the quickest and easiest way to make the transition. You can also improve your energy efficiency and in turn save money by addressing the culture change within your workplace. Learn more on how to lower your business energy costs in the workplace.
What is the future of environmental sustainability for SMEs?
Making the transition towards a cleaner and sustainable future will require a collaborative effort and you will need to get everyone on board. This is where both education and cooperation must align.
We have already mentioned that switching to a renewable energy contract is the first place to start as it will help you reduce your carbon footprint immediately. However, you should also consider additional measures, many of which can be achieved through carrying out a business energy audit.
In conclusion, small adjustments can make a big difference in the years to come. Sustainability isn’t a temporary fix; it is something that will be here for decades and centuries. Efficiency has always been important in the business world; this also applies to commercial gas and electricity.
Through historic climate agreements such as The Paris Agreement, which recently celebrated its fifth anniversary, world leaders across the globe will be mobilising in their efforts to push towards this cleaner future. Policies will and have been set out by governments that will require everyone to take part in this global challenge to reduce the effects of climate change.
In recent years, the cost of generating solar energy has dropped significantly. This has only been made possible through improved technical efficiency and manufacturing. Due to this, many business owners and domestic customers are starting to consider solar power as a real alternative to traditional energy generation methods. Renewable energy research and development has increased by a large order of magnitude over the past two decades. This has meant that more and more consumers are looking for new solutions in the energy sector. In this guide, we’ll provide a quick breakdown on how solar panels actually work, giving you all the essential information you need before considering this green alternative.
While solar panels are a great way to cut the costs of electricity for any commercial premises. To gain the maximum benefit and save as much as possible, you’ll want to compare a range of business energy suppliers. Sites like Utility Saving Expert allow you to compare tariffs from leading energy providers in minutes, helping you easily find the most competitive deal in minutes.
Solar cells are normally created from silicon, which is a semiconductor and can generate electricity. This process is known as the photovoltaic effect.
Solar panels use photovoltaic cells to absorb sunlight, this generates direct current (DC) energy. This is then converted to an alternating current (AC) energy, made possible with the assistance of inverter technology. AC power will flow through a business premises or home’s electrical panel and is distributed to where it is required. Here’s a step by step breakdown of how the process works.
- Photovoltaic cells will absorb energy from the sun which is then converted to DC electricity.
- A solar inverter converts this DC electricity from the solar module to AC electricity. The power is then directed to the business or home’s energy system and distributed accordingly.
- Electricity will now flow around the commercial property or home to provide power.
- Any excess electricity produced from the solar panels will be fed back to the National Grid, depending on what scheme you’re on, you may be paid for this.
How is electricity generated through the use of solar panels?
A standard solar panel, commonly referred to as a solar module includes a layer of silicon cells, glass casing, a metal frame and a range of wires that allow current to flow. Silicon is a non-metal and has conductive properties. These properties allow it to absorb and convert light from the sun into electricity. Electrons will be set in motion, once light interfaces with the silicon cell. This is what is known as the ‘photovoltaic effect’ in the technology used by solar panels.
Here’s a breakdown of how the photovoltaic process takes place:
- Solar radiation is absorbed by a silicon photovoltaic solar cell.
- A flow of electric current is created as electrons move once the sun’s rays interact with the silicon cell.
- Wires are used to capture and feed this direct current electricity to a solar inverter which is then converted to alternating current electricity.
What about the grid connection with solar panels?
Electricity generation through solar panels can be explained to consumers, however, there is still some confusion surrounding how the National Grid factors into all of this.
Any business premises or home that is connected to the National Grid will include a utility meter. This is used by an energy supplier to measure and provide power to your building. Any solar panels that are installed on your roof or in another location will at some point be connected to the business or home’s utility meter. The production of your solar system will now be able to be accessed and measured by this meter.
One of the biggest roadblocks that is on the mind of many consumers who are interested in solar power technology is timing and weather. You may be asking yourself what happens when it’s night time or there are adverse weather conditions. Fortunately, this has now been resolved through the use and installation of an energy storage system. These storage systems can store energy generated in the day which can later be used at night. It’s also worth noting that newer solar panels can still generate electricity even without direct sunlight. Additionally, the cost of solar power has decreased by more than 70 percent in the last decade, and is only becoming more efficient through new research and development.
Hopefully, this guide has given you a good understanding on how solar panels operate and the technology used behind them. Many businesses and home owners are increasingly considering making the switch. However, for most the biggest barrier to entry will likely be cost. The initial cost can still be quite expensive, and may only be worth it if you’re planning on staying in the same home or commercial premises over a number of years to save what you’ve invested.
Renewable energy has always stood as a backbone for various projects. The kind of benefits or advantages that it brings to the sector tend to formulate into valuable points for the future. Due to the type of renewable sources present in the environment, it seems like a fair idea to quote that renewable energy will take us towards sustainable development. But if you’re confused about how things might end up heading in that direction, then we are here to clarify. Hence, here’s a brief take on the critical role played by renewable energy in taking us to sustainable development.
1. The Fight Against Climate Change
One of the biggest threats that the world faces at the moment is climate change or global warming. The kind of effects that it brings to the table is powerful enough to wipe out the possibility of a future. So the task or the process to fight the same needs to be implemented, and we all have to ensure the same. One of the significant ways through which we achieve that is to depend upon renewable sources. Yes, that’s right. Unlike other sources of energy or power, renewable sources do not emit greenhouse gases and thus, will not add on to the impact of global warming.
2. Reduces Dependency on Energy
Dependence on fossil fuel imports tends to result in the submission of the economy, apart from the apparent fact of environmental pollution. So changing our sources of supply from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy makes absolute and complete sense. By doing so, our dependence on other forms of energy will reduce, and countries can move forward to be independent.
3. An Inexhaustible Source
When compared to conventional or other sources such as coal, gas and nuclear, renewable sources seem to be inexhaustible. As they adapt to natural cycles, these renewables tend to offer various benefits in contrast to other sources. Due to this, a complete source of a sustainable energy system can be enhanced for the future and made available to everyone. Hence, renewable sources of energy are more important than you think.
4. Support from International Communities
The effects of global warming have managed to trigger a large group of people, and the international community was quick to notice. As a result, they have understood their obligation to the environment and the leading effects of a carbon-filled economy. So the international consensus is all in favour of de-carbonization of the economy and building a framework that stands for the promotion of clean energy technologies. Thus, one can expect to see a host of changes that will very well place renewable sources of energy at the forefront of sustainable development.
The simple principle of a wind turbine is known to humankind. Using wind to rotate the turbines to produce electricity. As a result, the propellers tend to turn, and we are exposed to the flow of electricity. But apart from these obvious facts, how does the process take shape? How does it manage to carry on the flow to another source? Well, all these questions are targeted towards the basis of functionality, and yes, we are here to provide all the answers. Hence, go ahead and read all about the functionality of a wind turbine.
The force of aerodynamics plays a crucial role as rotor blades tend to work like an aeroplane wing or a helicopter’s rotor blade. As a result, when wind flows and moves across these blades, air pressure on one side of the blade decreases. Due to that, there will be a difference in air pressure across two sides of the blade and thus creates lift and drag. As the force of the pull is stronger than the force of drag, this causes the rotor to spin.
Since rotors are in turn connected to generators, the speed of the rotation manages to allow these generators to function. At times, these generators are also connected through a series of gears and might not be in direct contact with the turbine. But towards the end, the force of aerodynamics enables generators to function and thus, creates electricity. Due to this process, wind turbines are considered to be a viable source of energy production that relies on renewable energy.
Modern wind turbines tend to fall under two main groups, and their functionality is in sync with the right aspects. As a result, you will come across (a)vertical-axis turbines and (b)horizontal-axis turbines.
a. Vertical-Axis Turbines
Vertical-axis turbines differ from each other through variations in size. Although the basis of functionality for both the types share similar aspects, vertical-axis turbines had two main problems, i.e., lower power generation and frequent braking. But thanks to the latest VAWT technologies, most of these problems have been cleared. Small vertical wind-turbines have been critical in shaping the solution.
b. Horizontal-Axis Turbines
Horizontal-Axis Wind Turbines are more widely used when compared to vertical-axis wind turbines. With a higher yield of aerodynamics, things tend to get a lot more comfortable with these turbines. The many blades that are part of the turbine manage to produce the required amount. Standard horizontal-axis wind turbines have between one to three blades, and it varies based on the aspects of cost, power coefficient and the speed of rotation of the wind sensor. When you consider the extent of outcome and other such factors, you will realise that horizontal-axis turbines have the upper hand over vertical-axis turbines.
A lot of individuals tend to opt for the idea that nuclear power and energy solutions are far apart from each other. Based on the kind of radioactive waste and other aspects produced by nuclear energy, environmentalists tend to believe that it should never be a part of an energy solution. But today, we are challenging that belief by hitting you with a set of points that can help you understand. So without further ado, let’s head into the matter and hear things out.
One of the main reasons why environmentalists believe that nuclear power should never be included as an energy solution is due to its effects on global warming. The production and emergence of radioactive fuels tend to form the basis of their judgement and how the earth is getting warmer. But when you look deeper into these aspects, you will realize the condemnation of this efficient power source is targeted on a low-carbon baseload of energy. As a result, nuclear power can be a significant component to save our planet from entering an extreme stage of destruction.
Nuclear power produces energy through nuclear fission and not through the process of chemical burning. Due to this, baseload electricity will not produce carbon, which is the main element of global warming. So making the switch from coal to natural gas is an essential step towards decarbonizing. On the other hand, switching from coal to nuclear power moves forward towards the process of radical decarbonizing. Since nuclear power plants tend to release greenhouse gases only from ancillary use of fossil fuels during aspects of construction, fuel processing, decommissioning and maintenance, it amounts to around 4-5%, which is the same for a natural gas-fired power plant.
Once you analyze these points, you will be left with the understanding that nuclear power is not only the answer to the enormous threat of global warming but also for the flow of electricity when renewable sources vary. Hence, it is valuable and deserves to be a part of energy solutions.