Meeting the challenges of energy procurement head on

COVID-19 has brought so much uncertainty to the world as people wonder what their future prospects may be, personally or professionally.

The energy market has certainly not been immune to this either, with plummeting oil prices amidst a major downturn in business energy consumption being reflected in historically low business energy costs.

And renewable energy projects and EV installations, which were set for a boom year in 2020, have been held back, especially in the initial stages of the pandemic, because of a disrupted supply chain.

With so many factors to consider – political posturing can also be thrown into the mix – understanding the market and the mechanisms that may trigger wild fluctuations in the price of electricity and gas is vital to successful energy procurement negotiations.

Even for the most trained eye, unprecedented times like these can be extremely challenging for brokers in advising clients on when to sign on the dotted line with energy suppliers, and the length of contract most preferable for their needs.

A good level of market intelligence – through experience and software such as EM-Powered, the energy management portal – is vital in procuring energy at the right price and at the right time.

Minimising those energy costs through smart energy procurement – and taking the hassle away from clients – is at the heart of what we do.

With over two decades’ worth of experience, Energy Management explores the range of options available to their clients, from a fixed-price, longer-term arrangement that allows for greater security, planning and budgeting to a more flexible approach, where advantages can be derived from fluctuations in energy pricing.

Our consultants are experts at knowing which way ‘the wind is blowing’, so why not give them a call, on 01225-867722 or email:sales@energymanagementltd.com

 

An energy framework designed to tackle the climate change emergency

The climate change emergency was at the front and centre of the news agenda before Covid-19, and even while we are still in the grip of the pandemic, it is an issue that has rightfully refused to go away.

We have found that in our discussions with clients and potential new customers that the drive towards a carbon-neutral position – by 2050, or even 2030 in some cases – is still a key focus.

Figures released by BloombergNEF showed how purchasing green energy contracts rose by 40% on the previous year in 2019, reaching almost 20 gigawatts (GW), and that appetite for change is still there if our experience is anything to go by.

Our Choice Energy Framework is proving to be a popular option for those public sector organisations looking to not only save money in their energy procurement but also be more ethical in the way they power their facilities.

There has been tremendous interest in securing green energy contracts – ones that use wind and solar energy, for example – as opposed to traditional brown energy that relies on fossil fuel power generation.

The Choice Energy Framework involves up to six energy suppliers who have been shortlisted on the basis of tariff competitiveness, billing accuracy, max/min volume threshold restrictions and terms and conditions.

Fixed and flexible contracts will be offered by the suppliers with the length of the contract varying from 12 months to as long as four years.

If you would like to find out more, please contact one of our team on 01225-867722

Championing energy efficiency

As more and more white-collar employees gradually switch back to working in an office environment, now is a good time for businesses to ensure any energy efficiency good practices picked up whilst working from home come with them.

Most money-conscious, employees wouldn’t leave lights on unnecessarily or not properly shutdown their electrical devices whilst working from at home, and these type of behaviours should be present in the office environment, too.

You could even employ an ‘energy champion’ from within the workforce to take on the responsibility of engaging their colleagues in energy-saving measures in a bid to reduce the company’s energy bill.

Some simple measures such as the installation of movement sensitive lighting and LED lightbulbs can help massively in reducing the energy bill, too, without too much initial financial outlay.

Alternatively, you could turn to an external energy agency to conduct an energy audit and determine how you can use less power without compromising business throughput, output or thermal comfort and wellbeing of staff. An Energy Management health check workshop will cost you nothing but could save you thousands of pounds.

A Senior Energy Management certified assessor will visit your organisation and present his/her ideas over the course of a morning or afternoon with the aim of highlighting energy efficiency projects that can be easily implemented with little or no capital expenditure.

If you would like to discuss any energy efficiency measures, please get in touch with a member of our team on 01225-867722.

Switching energy suppliers – what you need to know

Energy is often a business’ biggest running cost after wages. That is why it is crucial to ensure you are not paying over the odds for powering your office, factory or warehouse, particularly if you prefer the security of a fixed-term contract over a more flexible arrangement.

Many energy contracts simply rollover once the current term expires, and this can lead to a business paying more per unit for their gas and electricity than they need to.

With the market as volatile as it is right now, switching energy providers can be in your best interests. Normally, your energy supplier – whether it is one of the so-called ‘Big 6’ or one of the smaller operators – will contact you up to six months before your contract enters its renewal window.

Armed with the facts

At this time, it is important to have all the right information to hand and to understand how, when and where you are consuming the most energy, especially if you operate over multiple sites, as this could impact on how much you eventually pay.

Switching energy suppliers can take anything between four to six weeks but without any disruption to your current supply.

Many businesses, particularly at times of great stress, either don’t have the resources to handle this energy procurement process or do not have the expertise to shine a light on unfavourable terms and conditions which may hit the business financially in the long run.

If you consider yourself to be in such a situation, we’d be more than happy to assist you in getting the right deal at the right time and for the right duration.

UK set for another coal-free energy record

When the clock strikes midnight on Wednesday, Britain will have gone a record two months without coal-fired power generation.

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a reduction in energy use throughout the business world but the lack of demand for energy only partly explains the trend.

The increased affordability and availability of renewables is a major reason why fossil fuels have fallen out of favour as the U.K. strives to meet its net-zero carbon commitments.

Once the backbone of the National Grid with up to 40 per cent of electricity generated from this source a decade ago, coal has made way to solar and wind.

In the case of Drax Power Station, coal has been ceded for wood pellets.

“We here at Drax decided that coal was no longer the future,” Will Gardiner, the chief executive of the power group, told the BBC.

“It has been a massive undertaking and then the result of all that is we’ve reduced our CO2 emissions from more than 20 million tonnes a year to almost zero.”

The last coal generator came off the system at midnight on 9 April. No coal has been burnt for electricity since.

The previous record coal-free period was  18 days, 6 hours and 10 minutes which was set in June last year.

 

Renewed focus for green energy procurement

As the UK strives towards a zero-carbon future, green energy procurement has become a key focus for such minded companies.

Switching away from fossil fuels to renewables has become much more straightforward given the increase in the range of options available, such as solar and wind turbine generation, and the growing affordability of the energy such methods produce.

Today, renewables produce more than 20% of the UK’s electricity, and that figure is forecast to rise to 30% by 2030, especially with the largest solar farm of its kind to be built shortly in Kent.

Organisations are now aligning their energy strategy to reflect the shifting trend, with increased investment in renewables gathering momentum.

Supporting sustainability

As one of the UK’s leading consultancies, Energy Management LLP recognises this and has devised a Green Energy Framework (GEF), which is designed to support public sector bodies in their commitment to a more sustainable future.

Incorporated within the over-arching framework agreement is a desktop audit of current energy efficiency schemes and analysis of half-hourly (HH) energy consumption data.

Once these initial steps are taken, a site survey is then conducted by one of our chartered engineers, and based on their findings, a detailed action plan highlighting areas of improvement will be discussed with clients.

At Energy Management, we are committed to helping clients for the whole duration of their journey towards net-zero carbon, and ongoing support is available through accountable auditing.

The Green Energy Framework follows on from the successful launch of the Choice Energy Framework, another of Energy Management’s initiatives that allow public sector bodies to access the best energy solutions.

Another boost for solar energy in the UK

The UK, like many parts of Europe, has seen solar power generation records broken in the second half of April, with reduced levels of air pollution and clearer skies due to the lockdown said to be contributory factors.

And there was further good news for the industry with this week’s announcement from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) that a new solar farm in Kent has been approved.

The farm is set to be the largest of its kind in the UK and will be located just outside of Faversham.

The subsidy-free project would begin next year, with electricity generation expected to start by 2023. The 350MW farm would feature almost 900,000 solar panels across 900 acres of farmland.

The developers claim that the farm would generate enough renewable electricity to power 91,000 homes, would reduce UK carbon emissions by 68,000 tonnes annually and generate £1m annually for the Kent and Swale councils.

 

IEA report on Covid-19 impact

Beyond the immediate impact on health, the current Covid-19 crisis has major implications for global economies, energy use and CO2 emissions.

Analysis of daily data through to mid-April by the International Energy Agency (IEA) shows that countries in full lockdown during this period experienced an average 25% decline in energy demand per week and countries in partial lockdown an average 18% decline.

Daily data collected for 30 countries until 14 April, representing over two-thirds of global energy demand, show that demand depression depends on duration and stringency of lockdowns.

Global energy demand declined by 3.8% in the first quarter of 2020, with most of the impact felt in March as confinement measures were enforced in Europe, North America and elsewhere.

At the start of 2020, it was forecast that global energy investment would grow by 2%; instead, it has fallen by 20% – a fall in spending of $400billion.

Covid-19 impact: the IEA’s sector-by-sector energy breakdown (for the first quarter of 2020)

  • Global coal demand was hit the hardest, falling by almost 8% compared with the first quarter of 2019. Three reasons converged to explain this drop. China – a coal-based economy – was the country the hardest hit by Covid‑19 in the first quarter; cheap gas and continued growth in renewables elsewhere challenged coal, and mild weather also capped coal use.
  • Oil demand was also hit strongly, down nearly 5% in the first quarter, mostly by curtailment in mobility and aviation, which account for nearly 60% of global oil demand. By the end of March, global road transport activity was almost 50% below the 2019 average and aviation 60% below.
  • The impact of the pandemic on gas demand was more moderate, at around 2%, as gas-based economies were not strongly affected in the first quarter of 2020.
  • Renewables were the only source that posted growth in demand, driven by larger installed capacity and priority dispatch.
  • Electricity demand has been significantly reduced as a result of lockdown measures, with knock-on effects on the power mix. Electricity demand has been depressed by 20% or more during periods of full lockdown in several countries, as upticks for residential demand are far outweighed by reductions in commercial and industrial operations. For weeks, the shape of demand resembled that of a prolonged Sunday. Demand reductions have lifted the share of renewables in the electricity supply, as their output is largely unaffected by demand. Demand fell for all other sources of electricity, including coal, gas and nuclear power.

Swing and you’re winning. Is now the best time to renew your energy contract?

All crises create winners and losers and the coronavirus pandemic is no different when it comes to how much businesses are paying for their energy.

Compare electricity and gas prices from the period before the pandemic took hold and adversely affected so many lives, to today’s market and there is no comparison.

With the global economic slowdown came a vast reduction in energy consumption – by as much as 38% in April – as factories and offices shut up shop, and prices plummeted as a result.

Summer 2021 electricity prices took a massive hit, falling by 32 per cent from the start of October until May 20, dropping from £55.01 to £37.50, while Summer 2022 swung by 24 per cent.

In terms of gas, there were equally big fluctuations over the near eight-month period. As of May 20th, Summer 2021 prices had gone from £53.34 to £30.23 – a 43 per cent reduction.

Our team of expert energy consultants constantly analyse the energy markets to help clients try and strike deals with suppliers at just the right time.

Whilst this is clearly not an exact science all the indications at present are that this is a good time to review your energy contract renewal options.

We are slowly starting to see the forward prices recover as the lockdown restrictions start to ease, but these costs are still low based on wholesale costs back in October/November 2019.

That lag won’t last forever though, and as more and more people go back to work, there will be an inevitable knock-on effect on prices as demand for energy increases.

If you would like to talk to us about your renewal options, please give us a call on 01225-867722.

Making better energy choices

Business and Commerce is in a very strange place at this time, some businesses have seen a sharp upturn in turnover as they fulfil the country’s requirements over this “lockdown” period, such as bicycle manufacturers, thanks to the sharp upturn in that particular form of exercise, while others simply had no choice but to heed the government’s advice and close their doors.

The downturn in the UK and world economy has lowered the demand for energy, and wholesale prices have followed suit. Short-term markets have taken the biggest hit, but markets further out have also reduced during this period, reflecting an uncertain future.

Energy Management is always on hand to assist clients old and new, either via a call, an email or through our bespoke portal reporting software ‘EM-Powered’.

Clients who benefit from EM-Powered find it helps them make better-informed decisions over their energy-related strategy.

It enables our clients to view and report on a range of information for your business including consumption, cost data and carbon production, plus provides up-to-date market information.

For more information about EM-Powered and an online demonstration of the portal, contact a member of the team now on 01225 867722 or email sales@energymanagementltd.com