UK public sector can save GBP 375m annually with modern energy use

Installation of rooftop solar panels. Source: Solarplicity (

September 16 (Renewables Now) - Annual costs savings of over GBP 375 million (USD 467m/EUR 423m) can be achieved in the UK public sector with the use of modern energy technology, including solar installations, a new study shows.

The savings could exceed GBP 5.6 billion over a typical 15-year energy contract, according to new research released by Centrica Business Solutions in the form of the Powering Britain’s Public Sector report.

The goal of the study is to assess the economic opportunity of healthcare establishments, universities and defence estate adopting green technologies. Combined, these are responsible for more than 7.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions a year. The government is pushing the three public sector estates to cut emissions by 30% by 2020/21 and achieve net zero by 2050.

The National Health Service (NHS), for example, is estimated to be sitting on a GBP-187-million annual savings opportunity.

"The Government has announced GBP 1.8 billion of extra capital funding for the NHS. Investing a fraction of this in distributed energy technology would not only improve the resilience of trusts but would create long term savings that could be redirected towards new nurses, new infrastructure and protecting vital front-line services," said Richard Hookway, CEO of Centrica Business.

The report lists seven types of distributed energy technologies that could benefit large energy users -- energy efficiency, energy insight, demand side response (DRS), combined heat and power (CHP), battery storage, small-scale power generation, including solar, wind and gas generators, and electric vehicle (EV) charging. In addition to these options, the report also mentions emerging technologies such as microgrids, hydrogen, green gas, heat pumps and stationary fuel cells that have the potential to reach the mainstream.

While researching the field, Centrica Business Solutions has faced a number of barriers such as the low priority of energy projects in the public sector, the lack of awareness when it comes to the opportunities presented by energy efficiency and decentralised energy, and the long-term policy uncertainty. The authors of the report have made several suggestions on how to unlock the potential, including the setting of a public sector emissions reduction target for 2030, creating energy specific capital spending allowances, simplifying public sector procurement frameworks, and ensuring a stable and long-term regulatory climate.

One of the report's more specific recommendations is that funding be extended to the Modern Energy Partners project for the installation of energy technologies at more than 1,000 high energy demand sites in the public sector by 2030.

(GBP 1.0 = USD 1.245/EUR 1.129)

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