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Three measures to save energy for businesses of all sizes

SSE Airtricity partners with businesses of all sizes to find energy saving efficiencies. They undertake an audit of energy outlays and advise on customised ways that your business can save money

Keeping energy costs – and carbon emissions - down is the name of the game for businesses. SSE Airtricity can help with this.

The renewable energy provider has a range of products and services to help businesses of all sizes become more energy efficient.

The first step in your energy efficiency journey is to understand your current energy usage.

Understanding your energy usage with an energy audit


“The single biggest recommendation we would make for any business this year is to undertake an energy audit,” says Fergal Ahern, SSE Airtricity’s head of business development.

“It will ensure you understand your energy usage patterns. It will identify the largest energy users in your business and then provide you with cost/benefit analysis of all the suitable opportunities open to you. This will include both cost and carbon savings, as well as the payback associated with any step you take.”

The Sustainable Energy Association of Ireland (SEAI) provides vouchers worth €2,000 towards the cost of this audit to businesses spending more than €10,000 on energy a year, providing you with impartial third-party advice.

“SMEs in particular will find there are savings to be made. A lot of larger users have dedicated energy teams, but smaller businesses are typically so focused on the day to day running of their business that it can be hard for them to find the time to do this,” Ahern adds.

“Many will simply not have been as focused on energy costs as much as they are at present. This presents them with opportunities to reduce carbon too, something now widely understood as a necessity for all businesses. Customers are demanding it right across the supply chain.”

An energy audit is simple and straightforward. Once you successfully apply for your voucher and choose your auditor, he or she will undertake desk research, looking at your energy data and bills, before doing a walk-through of your business, looking at your equipment and operations.

They then compile a report and talk you through the options open to you.

“The suggestions will vary from business to business. For some it could be about introducing energy monitoring in real time. For others it could be about installing low-cost LED lighting. For those businesses that use compressed air it could be carrying out a system upgrade while those that use oil boilers for heating the report might recommend an energy efficient heat pump instead,” he explains.

No one size fits all. “Energy efficiency is about finding out what is most appropriate for your business, and each business varies. For example, a warehouse is less concerned with space heating and more concerned with light,” says Ahern.

Generating power for your business with on-site solar

One of the biggest trends among businesses is to invest in on site solar. SSE Airtricity and its solar partner Activ8 Solar Energies help to power businesses using energy generated from their own roof. From site survey and grant support through to installation and service, it manages the entire process.

“We are seeing a large number of businesses investing in on site solar, either on the roof top or, if it’s more suitable, off adjacent ground,” says Ahern. “It allows them to generate their own electricity and shields them from the market.”

There are a number of options available to businesses, including paying for the installation up front. Increasingly however, many customers are opting for SSE Airtricity’s funded solar solutions.

Also called a solar power purchase agreement, it is a fully funded energy solution that supports Irish businesses to install a solar PV system and use the green renewable electricity generated on site, at no upfront cost.

The electricity generated by the system and consumed at site is billed to the customer on a monthly basis.

“With this option there is no up-front capital expenditure. We pay for, manage, and maintain the system for you and the business customer pays for the electricity at a kilowatt per hour basis,” Ahern explains.

Generating new revenue streams for large businesses

For large businesses that have the flexibility, another increasingly popular option for SSE Airtricity customers is demand side response, where they actually generate revenues from their energy usage, simply by changing the way they do things.

By being prepared to vary the way in which they use electricity, such as changing the times at which certain activities take place, large businesses can make savings and even receive payments.

“Essentially, if a larger business makes itself available to the grid to reduce demand when asked, it could receive payment in return,” says Ahern.

A wide range of businesses already do this. “It’s quite mature in this market. It could be anything from a data centre with a back-up generator to a mill that can shift production times around. It all happens smoothly and can be a significant revenue generator, as well as supporting the security of the grid.”

SSE Airtricity assists businesses that are considering demand-side response by helping them to establish the level of flexibility they are comfortable with and advising on what’s most suitable for them.

“In addition to our 100 per cent green energy*, for us it’s about helping businesses to reduce consumption and reduce carbon,” says Ahern. “Every solution we offer does both and we’re really committed to supporting our customers in making the right decision for their business.”

Find out more about how SSE Airtricity can help your business understand and reduce its energy usage, and save money by visiting sseairtricity.com/business

*For substantiation, visit www.sseairtricity.com/greenenergy