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Stuart O'Brien

Energy & utilities employers pledge to diversify workforce

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Thirty-two of the country’s biggest energy and utilities employers have launched a sector Inclusion Commitment to attract more diverse and inclusive talent into the industry.

The Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership, led by sector employers, says it recognised in its Workforce Renewal and Skills Strategy: 2020 that its current workforce fails to fully represent the 65 million people it serves every day.

83% of the sector’s workforce are male, compared to 47% for all sectors nationally. Women, people with disabilities, the BAME community and under 24s have traditionally been under-represented in the energy and utilities sector, compared to national averages.

To tackle this, the group have committed to driving change and work collaboratively to attract, recruit and retain a more diverse talent to the sector.

Employing around 566,000 people across the UK, the sector will need over 221,000 new recruits to fill its expected skills gap by 2027.

The groups says the commitment will challenge the sector to act and think differently and aims to inspire and connect with underrepresented groups, attracting new talent and ideas into the energy and utilities sector.

Government will invest more than £425bn over 600 major projects across the UK (to 2020/21 and beyond). Nearly half the projects in the pipeline are assigned to electricity, gas, water & sewerage and waste, making the energy and utilities sector the largest single contributor to government’s UK infrastructure strategy.

Nick Ellins, Chief Executive, Energy & Utility Skills Group said: “Through the inaugural skills strategy, led by the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership, the UK’s utilities and their contractors have set out their ambition to enhance the diversity of their workforces and be ever more inclusive. This new commitment is a framework. It starts the collective action to help the sector workforce better mirror the communities it serves and secure the unquestionable benefits that result from having vibrant, truly inclusive and diverse teams.”

Basil Scarsella, Chair of the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership Council said: “The Inclusion Commitment is an opportunity for all of us in the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership to develop workforces that reflect the communities we all serve and tackle the challenge of increasing diversity head on. We are very keen to share best practice and drive change through proactive, transparent measures.”

Marguerite Ulrich, Chief Human Resources Officer, Veolia UK and Ireland said: “We welcome this new initiative and the opportunity to close the future skills gap. At Veolia we have been working towards an inclusive organisation by growing diverse teams and we see it as a business imperative. Studies have shown diversity of thought improves problem-solving, decision-making and even financial performance; we know that by leveraging our people’s differences we can drive innovative growth in our company and the industry.”

Earth Capital completes £100m energy efficiency exit via IPO

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Earth Capital is pleased to announce the successful exit from the UK Energy Efficiency Investments Fund (UKEEI), through the sale of the Fund’s assets via a £100m IPO.

Earth Capital’s Nobel Sustainability Fund was invested in UKEEI alongside the Green Investment Bank, Earth Capital investee SDCL EEco, the European Investment Bank and other institutional LPs.

Earth Capital’s impact investing focus includes Energy Efficiency as a key sector, and is strongly aligned with SDCL’s investment strategy.

The Fund made a series of investments in the UK Energy Efficiency market into assets such as LED lighting, Combined Heat and Power and biomass heat.

Companies in the UK benefiting from the Fund’s investment include Santander, Citigroup, Moy Park, NCP, and St Bartholomew’s Hospital.

Each host had modern energy efficient products installed by the Fund.

In December 2018, the SDCL Energy Efficiency Income Trust acquired the assets of the Fund in conjunction with its £100m IPO.

Gordon Power and Jim Totty of Earth Capital said: “We are delighted at the successful sale of the portfolio of the UK Energy Efficiency Investments Fund. This marks yet another strong exit to add to our market leading 30 year sustainable private markets track record. Our partnership with SDCL continues to deliver strong cash returns to institutional investors in sustainability, through an active, hands-on impact investing strategy.”

Jonathan Maxwell and Joseph Muthu of SDCL said, “We are delighted at the acquisition of the UKEEI investments by the SDCL Energy Efficiency Investment Trust. Energy efficiency investment is the most cost-effective and rational way of reducing emissions and improving the security of energy supply, and the UK Energy Efficiency Investment Fund has pioneered Energy Efficiency private markets investment in the UK.”

New build home energy bills ‘up £200’

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The government’s 2015 decision to scrap the Zero Carbon Homes policy is costing occupants of new-build homes more than £200 per year on their energy bills.

That’s according to a report from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), which says the £200 per year saving that would have resulted from the Zero Carbon Homes policy is nearly three times the amount sought by the Government’s recently-introduced energy price cap.

Since 2015, owners of new-build homes in England have collectively paid more than £120 million in additional energy costs – a figure that will rise to over £2 billion by 2020 as more and more new dwellings are occupied.

The Zero Carbon Homes policy was due to come into effect in 2016 after nine years of discussions with housebuilders and other stakeholders, but Treasury cancelled it six months before implementation.

A poll of MPs conducted last year for ECIU by YouGov showed that more than half (55%) support re-introduction of Zero Carbon Homes, with only 18% opposed.

Commenting, Dr Jonathan Marshall, ECIU Head of Analysis, said: “Successive governments have struggled to devise effective domestic energy efficiency policies, meaning carbon emissions from homes are rising, but Zero Carbon Homes could have made a real difference.

“As well as future-proofing new homes, the policy would have saved families money, reduced Britain’s vulnerability to energy supply shocks, and cut carbon emissions.

“Tackling new build homes is one of the easiest ways of improving the UK’s leaky housing stock, and reintroducing this policy could also deliver a boost to firms involved in insulation and low-carbon heating.”

Heating is responsible for around 40% of national energy consumption, and around 25% of emissions. Of this, homes are responsible for more than half (57%), with 80% of British homes currently heated by natural gas. Heating also represents the largest component of domestic energy bills and is therefore directly linked to fuel poverty concerns.

Bifacial solar cell boon for Scotland?

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Research into the benefits of Scotland moving to double-sided solar panels (bifacial solar cells) could mean £400m of additional annual revenue to the Scottish economy.

Heriot-Watt University, in partnership with the Wood Group aim to build a case for bifacial panels across the globe, with the cells producing up to 25% more energy than the same projected area due to their ability to convert irradiation captured on both the front and rear sides.

The Solar Trade Association predicts that Scottish solar panels will rise to 1.5GW by 2030. The 25% enhanced energy yield of bifacial versus monofacial panels with the same projected area, could mean generation would increase to almost 2GW, equating to £400m of additional annual revenue to the Scottish economy, along with over 2,000 new jobs created.

Predictions also include £200m a year savings for Scottish industry and household and over half a billion kgCO2/year emissions reduction.

Alan Mortimer, director of innovation at Wood, said: “Heriot-Watt University is recognised as the best in its field and we are thrilled to, once again, be working together to create a low-carbon future. 

“Bifacial panels with their lower cost of energy will help accelerate the global energy transition by allowing many more companies and consumers to make the switch.

“Solar energy is one of the fastest-growing renewable technologies and through this partnership, we will not only drive continuous improvements for our customers but also boost the quality of research within the university by ensuring it has practical applications in industry.”

Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme (SEEP) has committed to try and make Scotlands buildings as near to zero carbon by 2050 by combining wind and solar assets. 

The Facilities Management Forum returns in July – Register today!

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The Facilities Management Forum will return for a second time in 2019 on 1 & 2 July at the Hilton Deansgate in Manchester.

The Forum boasts a proven format, matching you with professionals who are looking for your particular products and services. No time wasted and providing a great ROI.

In fact, over 70% of the suppliers who attended the January event said that they would like to attend another FM Forum.

Here’s what they had to say about it…

“Professional, friendly and very helpful organisers. Great calibre of clients/prospects & certainly well worth attending” – Viridor Waste Management

“Having used Forum Events since its inception I have always been satisfied by the potential buyers and the relevant level of business that can be achieved through the initial meeting”– Sowga

“It has been very useful meeting new contacts and we hope good business will come with the next coming months”– Actiu

“Well organised, well managed event that always delivers good level delegates with real project needs”– Root3 Lighting

If you would like to meet, face-to-face, with 65+ senior FM professionals, register your interest here.

Alternatively, contact Paige Aitken on 01992 374079 /

If you’d like to attend as a VIP delegate, contact Emily Auty on 01992 374070 /

Network your way to success at the Energy Management Summit

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Join with 65 fellow professionals for two days of networking and learning at the Energy Management Summit, which takes place on September 30th & October 1st 2019.

It’s all happening at the Radisson Blu London Stansted – and it’s FREE for you to attend!

Simply register your place here. Your ticket will enable you to:

  • Meet with innovative and budget-saving suppliers based on your own personal requirements
  • Attend a series of insightful seminars
  • Network with like-minded energy managers
  • Enjoy complimentary overnight accommodation, all meals and refreshments, plus an invitation to our gala dinner, with entertainment.
  • Give your business the edge in 2019 and beyond

Don’t miss out! There are only a limited number of VIP places available.

Or for more information call Donald Matanga on 01992 374075 or email

To attend as a supplier, call Lisa Rose on 01992 374077 or email

Corporate clean energy buying surged to new highs in 2018

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Corporations purchased 13.4 gigawatts of clean power through long-term contracts globally last year, more than doubling 2017’s total, helped by demand from new industries and previously untrodden markets.

Research from BloombergNEF (BNEF) has highlighted a wave of smaller corporate energy buyers aggregating their purchases, and the first corporate clean energy power purchase agreements in markets such as Poland among catalysts for the growth.

In its 1H 2019 Corporate Energy Market Outlook, BNEF says the 13.4GW of clean energy contracts were signed by 121 corporations in 21 different countries in 2018. This was up from 6.1GW in 2017, and positions those companies alongside utilities as the biggest buyers of clean energy globally.

Jonas Rooze, head of corporate sustainability for BNEF, said: “Corporations have signed contracts to purchase over 32GW of clean power since 2008, an amount comparable to the generation capacity of the Netherlands, with 86% of this activity coming since 2015 and more than 40% in 2018 alone.”

More than 60% of the global activity in 2018 occurred in the U.S., where companies signed PPAs to purchase 8.5GW of clean energy, nearly triple the amount signed in 2017.

Facebook spearheaded a contingent of experienced U.S. corporate energy buyers, purchasing over 2.6GW of renewables globally in 2018, primarily with utilities in regulated U.S. markets through programs known as green tariffs. This was three times that of the next biggest corporate energy buyer, AT&T.

Kyle Harrison, a corporate sustainability analyst for BNEF and lead author of the report, said: “The aggregation model has heralded in a new generation of corporate clean energy buyers. These companies no longer need to tackle the complexities of clean energy procurement alone. They can share risks associated with credit and energy market volatility with their peers.”

In the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, corporations also purchased record volumes of clean energy, inking deals for 2.3GW and doubling the 1.1GW signed in 2017. The Nordics were once again the hot spot for activity, with companies attracted to strong wind resources and credit support from government bodies.

Aluminium producers Norsk Hydro and Alcoa Corp purchased the most clean energy in Europe in 2018, but the region also saw activity from multinational technology companies such as Facebook, Amazon and Alphabet subsidiary Google.

Several European countries that saw little or no corporate procurement activity in 2017 enjoyed a rise in interest in 2018. Companies signed PPAs for the first time in Poland, and just the second time in Denmark and Finland. There were also new deals signed in the U.K., following a lull after the expiration of a national subsidy program. Several requests for proposals and changes in policy suggest burgeoning new markets in Germany and France as well.

In the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, still a nascent market for corporate procurement, companies signed a record 2GW of clean energy PPAs, more than the previous two years combined. Nearly all of this activity occurred in India and Australia, with roughly 1.3GW and 0.7GW of clean energy purchased, respectively. Both markets allow companies to buy clean energy at a large scale through offsite PPAs, making them rarities for the region.

Demand still far outstrips supply in the rest of APAC, although recent changes in several markets suggests a major spike in activity is on the horizon. Offsite corporate PPA mechanisms are now available in nine provinces in China, and the imminent passing of a renewable portfolio standard will give over 30,000 large commercial and industrial companies renewable electricity targets. In Japan, the country’s third non-fossil certificate auction saw corporations purchase 21TWh, tripling the combined activity in the first two auctions. Thirteen companies in Japan have also established 100 renewable electricity targets, more than the rest of APAC combined.

Facebook inks virtual power purchase agreement for renewables

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Digital Realty has signed a virtual power purchase agreement on behalf of Facebook to support the social media giant’s renewable energy goals at data centre facilities.

Under the agreement, Digital Realty has executed a long-term renewable power purchase contract to secure approximately 80 megawatts of solar power capacity for Facebook.

Digital Realty contracted with SunEnergy1, which has developed and will own and operate the solar project, to be located within Virginia Electric and Power Company territory in North Carolina.

Under the terms of the agreement, all renewable energy certificates and environmental claims will be delivered to Facebook.

The partners say the agreement marks the first back-to-back utility-scale renewable energy transaction between a data centre provider landlord utilising a virtual power purchase agreement to underpin the renewable energy supply dedicated to a customer.

Digital Realty says it worked in partnership with Facebook to structure the transaction to align with Facebook’s quality standards for new renewable energy projects within the same power grid as the data centre load.

“Our scale and position as a leader in data center sustainability enabled us to execute this first of its kind agreement in support of Facebook’s sustainability goals,” said Digital Realty Chief Executive Officer A. William Stein. “Many of our customers have specific renewable energy requirements, and we work diligently to provide cost-competitive solutions tailored to their needs. We were able to take Facebook’s quality standards and timeline into consideration and deliver this solution in a competitive marketplace and at a competitive price. We are very pleased to be part of the solution enabling Facebook to achieve its renewable energy goals.”

“Facebook is committed to supporting all of its operations with 100% renewable energy and to improving overall access to renewable markets,” said Bobby Hollis, Director of Global Energy and Site Selection at Facebook. “We are thrilled Digital Realty has entered into this agreement and hope this will serve as a model for other colocation customers seeking to support their operations with high-quality, renewable energy projects.”

To-date, Digital Realty has contracted for approximately 745,000 megawatt-hours of renewable generation annually through long-term power purchase agreements, avoiding approximately 525,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.

North East gets offshore wind VR training facility

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A virtual reality system has been created at Newcastle College’s Energy Academy in Wallsend to help train future engineers in the North East region.

The Immersive Hybrid Reality (iHR) offshore wind training facility has been commissioned for the Great Exhibition of the North and has been delivered by Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapults, in partnership with Scotland’s Energy Skills Partnership, Heriot Watt University and Animmersion VR, to replicate working conditions experienced by wind turbine engineers operating on offshore wind farms.

The  VR technology allows users to locate and diagnose faults in a realistic and safe environment, helping develop the skillset needed for working within the wind industry.

The new technology part of a national initiative to create 27,000 skilled jobs within the the energy sector by 2030.

The Energy Academy opened in 2012 and has already trained over 1,200 students.

“The immersive Hybrid Reality installation at Newcastle College is a huge, innovative step in training and skills development for the next generation of offshore wind technicians,” explained Tony Quinn, ORE Catapult operations director. “We are delighted to see this project come to fruition as a dedicated training facility, provided by a high-quality education and skills provider here in the North East.”

Speaking at the Great Exhibition of the North, director of Business Partnerships Marc McPake said: “Newcastle College has always been aligned to North East LEP priorities and our training and development here at the Energy Academy is centred around the skills required by industry.

“Collaboration with employers is at the centre of everything we do and our partnership with ORE Catapult is a fantastic example of a relationship which will benefit our students and an entire industry.

“Technology and innovation are changing the future of education and training and we hope that this facility will create a lasting legacy by supporting the creation of highly skilled jobs and employment for our region.”

Do you provide Renewable Energy solutions? We want to hear from you!

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Each month on Energy Management Briefing we’re shining the spotlight on a different part of the market – and in February we’ll be focussing on Renewable Energy solutions.

It’s all part of our ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help energy management buyers find the best products and services available today.

So, if you’re a supplier of Renewable Energy solutions and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Lisa Rose on 01992 374077 /

Here are the areas we’ll be covering in 2019, month by month:

February – Renewable Energy
March – Carbon Management
April – Metering & Monitoring
May – Waste Management
June – Energy Efficient Solutions
July – Data Collection & Management
August – Water Management
September – Solar PV
October – Lighting
November – HVAC
December – Water Strategy

For more information on any of the above, contact Lisa Rose on 01992 374077 /