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Routes to deliver net zero

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By David Kipling, CEO – On-Site Energy

Businesses have complicated energy needs, particularly those that use a lot of thermal energy such as for steam or ovens.  Achieving net zero is going to require elements of re-engineering, re-thinking business processes, adopting new technology and changing energy purchasing strategy. But is it even possible in the current climate when those decisions will also directly affect the P&L through changed operating costs.

The main routes to net zero most businesses consider are:

  • Buy green tariffs – and hope they won’t be looked-through as “green-washing”. SECR reporting is starting to highlight energy intensity (how many kWh of energy your company uses to produce 1 kg of product) – which will aim direct comparison with competitors
  • Electrification – and hope the Government will make good on its promises to decarbonise the electricity grid
  • Await Hydrogen to move off gas – another big “if”. When or will it be commercially viable and available ?
  • Invest in energy efficiency

The problem with approaches (1) – (3)  is they will have failed to deliver the change that your customers are looking for anytime up to at least 2030. That could put your business at a competitive disadvantage. Also you are fully exposed to market volatility with these routes.

We believe the right path is option (4), to invest in reducing your energy intensity and also consider low-carbon generation solutions.  This way you reduce your CO2 footprint, reduce your exposure to the grid and are in control of your costs. Also bear in mind that the third round of ESOS is less than 2 years away, and its likely to be mandatory to enact the recommendations of the auditor.  In that ESOS round there is going to be an even greater focus on action on energy efficiency.

The challenge is keeping operating costs under control whilst achieving progress towards decarbonising and deciding when to adopt new technologies.  With a recession looking likely, capital availability may also become more difficult.  We can help deliver measures without any capex from you, using our zero-capex energy partnership solution.

If you would like to discuss how to be more energy efficient and accelerate your net zero strategy, please contact David Kipling, CEO – On-Site Energy on 0151 271 0037 or email  david@on-site.energy (www.on-site.energy).

5 Minutes With… On-Site Energy’s David Kipling

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In the latest instalment of our energy management industry executive interview series we speak to On-Site Energy CEO David Kipling about rising energy costs, what we can all do to manage through that challenge and how the path to Net Zero presents an opportunity for us all…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

DK:  The inspiration for ON-SITE came from my previous role where I led a team addressing energy in over 100 manufacturing plants globally.  We saw the value of data-led energy analysis in identifying more than 50% savings but we found in practice we could only execute those measures with a short payback.

With the pressure now on achieving better sustainability, and on reducing costs, companies are going to have to find a way of doing the longer payback measures that until now sit on the shelf.   This is what ON-SITE is about – we help unblock long payback capex and enable the measures to happen.  We work with our customers to identify measures with a data-led approach, and then implement them using our money, with no contribution from the customer.  We effectively keep some of the savings to pay for our returns, and pass the remainder on to the customer through lower energy costs.  This way we can also help companies embrace net zero much faster.

We work with energy intensive manufacturing companies, and cover a wide range of technologies including efficiency measures, onsite generation and heat recovery.  We think its important to identify the most appropriate measures and which will have most impact, so we keep an open mind on what we recommend and are instead guided by the data.

What have been the biggest challenges the Energy Management industry has faced over the past 12 months?

DK:  The crisis of rising energy costs that started last Autumn has brought sharp focus on energy costs for many.   It really has shown the value of energy hedging but also the risks of what happens when your hedge ends and you face the market again.    Our view is the best way of defending your business from the market prices in the long term is (1)  consume less through investing in energy efficiency measures and (2) invest in your own generation, which is usually much cheaper and efficient, so that between these two steps you minimise your exposure..

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

DK:  Net Zero.  Most significant businesses now have a sustainability strategy with goals for achieving carbon neutral, but a lot have also had capex capped for at least the next few years because of COVID-19.  The pressure for change is building, and the main obstacles are capex and sometimes innovation.   We can help with both of these with our zero capex approach, and enable companies to stay on track or even accelerate their plans.

What is the biggest priority for the Energy Management industry in 2022?

DK: I would say that underlying its still decarbonisation, but the cost pressures of the last six months means that reducing energy costs on a long term basis will take priority.

Fundamentally your business needs to be viable to be sustainable, so costs need to be addressed..  The good news is that sustainability improvement goes hand in hand with savings, so accelerating your sustainability plans can also mean lower energy costs.

The biggest challenge will be decarbonisation of heat – in other words planning to switch from gas to electricity.  This will be a massive change for gas hungry businesses.  I think this will be an increasing priority given the recent cost of gas, and increasing talk about hydrogen (albeit that’s still years away). For a lot of businesses that will mean significant additional cost unless they develop a comprehensive approach and plan.

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2022/23?

DK:  I see two things – there is going to be a bigger push on onsite generation to reduce costs, and also the next round of ESOS is due by end 2023, and its likely it will be mandatory by then to have to enact the measures reported.  Its going to result in a lot of challenges to auditor findings, but its also going to bring a focus on getting ahead of the game and being proactive in addressing points.

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

DK:     I think its going to be solar PV.  Its cheap, fairly fast to deploy and can provide some relief for businesses against the high energy costs.     The issue is its usually limited impact in manufacturer’s energy costs.  For much larger savings you can’t beat CHP currently, but the key is using the heat constructively to reduce other fossil fuels.

In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?

DK:  100% Hydrogen-ready CHP.  The technology already is in market, but there isn’t much hydrogen available to use it.   Whilst the initial reaction for some is its more gas usage, CHP could be the transition technology to 24/7 zero carbon onsite generation once hydrogen is available.

Which person in, or associated with, the Energy Management industry would you most like to meet?

DK:  Lisa Rose of Forum Events (again) !   Lisa’s an enthusiast and is great at making people talk.  We need more Lisa’s !    It was good to get back to some face to face networking last year at the energy management event in London.  Looking forward to this October.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the Energy Management sector?

DK:  I think people enjoy learning about opportunities they hadn’t previously known about, which can be brought about by new technologies .  It’s an exciting space which is innovating fast.  It also has a meaningful impact on both business profits and on climate change and sustainability, so the people in the Energy Management space are often driven by the benefits they can deliver.

You go to the bar at the Energy Management Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?

DK:  Mine’s a pint !

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

DK:  Delivering new insights and levels of savings not thought possible

And what’s the most challenging?

DK:  Countering the “we’ve seen it before” response.   Reality is if they saw exactly “it” previously, then “it” has either changed massively or it wasn’t approached in the way we would use it.  It doesn’t hurt to take 15 minutes to see if you can learn something.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

DK:  A quick “no” is better than a slow “no”.

Peaky Blinders or Stranger Things?

DK:   My TV watching is limited to repeats of Top Gear.

Maximise your carbon reduction & cost savings

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By David Kipling, CEO – On-Site Energy Ltd

Whilst the news that Governments’ net zero plans remain intact as a result of the invasion of  Ukraine, current energy prices are at unprecedented levels and are a matter of survival for some businesses.

The good news is that by focusing on energy efficiency and onsite energy generation the likelihood is that you will both save money and carbon emissions. Energy savings and carbon reductions go hand-in-hand.

To develop a carbon reduction plan, you first need to understand your current performance whether that is in lighting, motor loads, chilling, heating or the other main uses you have.

This can then be compared to “best in class” performance.  Knowing what the result of implementing best in class solutions is a good start to formulating a plan and to building a business case for investment.  It will also tell you how close to net zero, so the remaining gap can be considered.

Minimising your exposure to the grid by reducing consumption and generating power onsite is the best way to mitigate the risk from volatile grid costs.  On-Site Energy can help with understanding your current carbon and energy performance, identifying the opportunities for efficiency and energy generation, and then delivering them.

We can also help unlock the opportunities by funding them on a zero-capex basis where some of the savings are used to fund the measures.  Your business benefits from lower costs and the full carbon reduction savings, without needing to spend anything.

If you would like to discuss how to implement energy efficiency measures, onsite generation or develop and roll-out a carbon management plan for your business, please contact David Kipling, CEO – On-Site Energy Ltd on 0151 271 0037 or email  david@on-site.energy (www.on-site.energy).

5 Minutes With… On-Site Energy CEO David Kipling

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

In the latest instalment of our energy management industry executive interview series we spoke to ON-SITE Energy CEO David Kipling about the company, the biggest challenges faced by the sector right now, upcoming trends to watch out for and the potential of solar PV…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

DK:  The inspiration for ON-SITE came from my previous role where I led a team addressing energy in over 100 manufacturing plants globally.  We saw the value of data-led energy analysis in identifying more than 50% savings but we found in practice we could only execute those measures with a short payback.

With the pressure now on achieving better sustainability, and on reducing costs, companies are going to have to find a way of doing the longer payback measures that until now sit on the shelf.  This is what ON-SITE is about – we help unblock long payback capex and enable the measures to happen.  We work with our customers to identify measures with a data-led approach, and then implement them using our money, with no contribution from the customer.  We effectively keep some of the savings to pay for our returns, and pass the remainder on to the customer through lower energy costs.  This way we can also help companies embrace net zero much faster.

We work with energy intensive manufacturing companies, and cover a wide range of technologies including efficiency measures, onsite generation and heat recovery.  We think its important to identify the most appropriate measures and which will have most impact, so we keep an open mind on what we recommend and are instead guided by the data.

What have been the biggest challenges the Energy Management industry has faced over the past 12 months?

DK:  The crisis of rising energy costs that started last Autumn has brought sharp focus on energy costs for many.   It really has shown the value of energy hedging but also the risks of what happens when your hedge ends and you face the market again.    Our view is the best way of defending your business from the market prices in the long term is (1)  consume less through investing in energy efficiency measures and (2) invest in your own generation, which is usually much cheaper and efficient, so that between these two steps you minimise your exposure..

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

DK:  Net Zero.  Most significant businesses now have a sustainability strategy with goals for achieving carbon neutral, but a lot have also had capex capped for at least the next few years because of COVID-19.  The pressure for change is building, and the main obstacles are capex and sometimes innovation.   We can help with both of these with our zero capex approach, and enable companies to stay on track or even accelerate their plans.

What is the biggest priority for the Energy Management industry in 2022?

DK: I would say that underlying its still decarbonisation, but the cost pressures of the last six months means that reducing energy costs on a long term basis will take priority.

Fundamentally your business needs to be viable to be sustainable, so costs need to be addressed..  The good news is that sustainability improvement goes hand in hand with savings, so accelerating your sustainability plans can also mean lower energy costs.

The biggest challenge will be decarbonisation of heat – in other words planning to switch from gas to electricity.  This will be a massive change for gas hungry businesses.  I think this will be an increasing priority given the recent cost of gas, and increasing talk about hydrogen (albeit that’s still years away). For a lot of businesses that will mean significant additional cost unless they develop a comprehensive approach and plan.

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2022/23?

DK:  I see two things – there is going to be a bigger push on onsite generation to reduce costs, and also the next round of ESOS is due by end 2023, and its likely it will be mandatory by then to have to enact the measures reported.  Its going to result in a lot of challenges to auditor findings, but its also going to bring a focus on getting ahead of the game and being proactive in addressing points.

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

DK:     I think its going to be solar PV.  Its cheap, fairly fast to deploy and can provide some relief for businesses against the high energy costs.     The issue is its usually limited impact in manufacturer’s energy costs.  For much larger savings you can’t beat CHP currently, but the key is using the heat constructively to reduce other fossil fuels.

In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?

DK:  100% Hydrogen-ready CHP.  The technology already is in market, but there isn’t much hydrogen available to use it.   Whilst the initial reaction for some is its more gas usage, CHP could be the transition technology to 24/7 zero carbon onsite generation once hydrogen is available.

Which person in, or associated with, the Energy Management industry would you most like to meet?

DK:  Lisa Rose of Forum Events (again) !   Lisa’s an enthusiast and is great at making people talk.  We need more Lisa’s !    It was good to get back to some face to face networking last year at the energy management event in London.  Looking forward to this October.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the Energy Management sector?

DK:  I think people enjoy learning about opportunities they hadn’t previously known about, which can be brought about by new technologies .  It’s an exciting space which is innovating fast.  It also has a meaningful impact on both business profits and on climate change and sustainability, so the people in the Energy Management space are often driven by the benefits they can deliver.

You go to the bar at the Energy Management Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?

DK:  Mine’s a pint !

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

DK:  Delivering new insights and levels of savings not thought possible

And what’s the most challenging?

DK:  Countering the “we’ve seen it before” response.   Reality is if they saw exactly “it” previously, then “it” has either changed massively or it wasn’t approached in the way we would use it.  It doesn’t hurt to take 15 minutes to see if you can learn something.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

DK:  A quick “no” is better than a slow “no”.

Peaky Blinders or Stranger Things?

DK:   My TV watching is limited to repeats of Top Gear.

Is metering fit for purpose in driving net zero ?

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By David Kipling, CEO – OEP Group

The old adage goes “You can’t manage what you can’t measure”, so what is the role of metering in driving a net zero strategy and is it fit for purpose ?

To start, you need data to understand your present position and formulate a strategy.  You need to understand your energy performance and the condition of your real estate in order to understand the savings and generation opportunities to achieve net zero. So a natural step would be to consider installation of sub-metering ?

Perhaps controversially, I think the role of sub-metering is over-hyped.   At least at present. Let me explain.

I led a team that deployed sub-metering across 15 factories in 5 countries for an international manufacturer.  We had no BMS in most buildings, so no building performance data.   We had no consistent data, and the fastest and best way to gain data was to retrofit metering.  At the same time, we also installed latest generation wireless temperature monitoring to correlate with energy and climate data.  In effect we developed an “over the top solution” we could drop into any of our factories globally.

The data coming from the metering and sensors was useful in formulating an initial plan, but we only scratched the surface in using all the data. There was simply too much data.  Our management would have been overwhelmed if we had presented anything more than the high level outcomes, and the facilities were too busy focused on production to have the bandwidth to use it.  My team didn’t have all the resources needed to really dive deep, and we could get enough information to formulate our initial strategy without digging too deep.  So 99%+ of the data gathered was never used.

The sub-metering systems available today, in my view, lack the data interpretation tools to process and present all the data as well.  They need to “translate” the data into usable analysis that is worthy of investigation. This should include identifying correlations, performance deterioration and highlighting emerging trends and issues within the data. Sub-metering needs to marry with BMS control logic in my view (and it doesn’t today).  Without proper AI tools, sub-metering is very much a “needle in the haystack” tool.   Equally without a dedicated team to use the data it’s a waste of money.

I often come across ESOS reports that directly associate energy savings with installing metering metering. But just installing metering doesn’t drive savings without somebody acting on the data.  Unless you have people looking at the data, with authority to then act, and even reward based on performance then the data is pretty much useless.  This is also why general management often views metering investment with scepticism as to its real value.

As we move forward towards net zero (or positive),  we are going to need these tools to dig deeper and squeeze out the remaining savings.  But we aren’t at that stage yet, in my view, and I doubt we will be for the next 10 years.   In the meantime, I really hope the AI attributes of sub-metering improve to make them truly useful to facilities and energy management teams.

So what can you do towards net zero in the meantime?

We are working for several multi-site corporates on net zero strategy and implementation.  The first steps have been to undertake utility meter level analysis, review their current position at each site in terms of energy infrastructure and policy, and establish benchmarks (external and internal) against which buildings and the overall organisation can be compared.  In the process we have identified a series of measures covering scope 1 and 2 emissions with timing plans for their implementation (generally with a priority to reduce scope 1 emissions first).

This leads to (a) an understanding of their position against their competitors from an SECR reporting perspective; (b) a strategy for where they want their SECR reported performance to be going forward (with a view to gaining competitive advantage) and (c) a clear capital expenditure plan they can take to their Board.  Also a clear understanding of the benefits of zero capex energy supply opportunities and how they could accelerate their carbon reporting position.

The role of an organisation such as mine is also to provide insights into new technology that may impact net zero strategies, and help our clients adapt their plans.  Organisations (naturally) develop plans based on current knowledge of the options available to them.   If new technology becomes disruptive to those plans, then adaption may be needed.

Net zero is going to require significant capital investment, often with measures that have longer project paybacks than is usual or with more perceived technical risk, neither of which currently tick the boxes needed for approval of capex.  When the hydrogen “switch” comes, or step changes in heat generation and recovery happen, the capital investment needed will be at an unprecedented level.  For these longer term measures, and newer technologies, an off-balance sheet energy supply agreement can play a significant role in enabling projects to happen.  For example, we can enable 2-10 year payback measures to be implemented, where they wouldn’t normally meet ROCE thresholds, and we also do our own technical evaluations of the risks.

If you would like to discuss how to progress net zero or metering in your business, please contact David Kipling, CEO – OEP Group at david@on-site.energy (www.on-site.energy) or 0151 271 0037.

Onsite generation and efficiency are best defences against volatile grid costs

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UK gas costs and electricity grid costs recently reached record highs. For those that are exposed to these rates there could be serious consequences.  For those that were lucky enough to dodge these bullets due to hedging or fixed tariffs, then the lesson should also be learned that you can’t avoid exposure to the market long term. When your hedge or fixed rate ends, what will the market be like then?  Are you prepared for that risk ?

But what can you do about it ?

The best thing you can do to avoid these prices is to reduce consumption. Suddenly energy efficiency measures whose payback was too long previously should be more attractive because of the higher costs of energy.  It would be wise to revisit what opportunities you have, and  to have your operational energy needs reviewed.  Inefficiencies that you have lived with for years such as over-sized steam boilers, inefficient motors, outdated refrigeration, obsolete plant, power correction, lack of VSDs, T5 lighting etc, will be worth addressing.

Additionally, generating your own power on site – “behind the meter” – avoids the non-commodity costs and CCL that go with grid power, and is amongst the cheapest form of power you can now source.

There are various low carbon and renewable options available.

Renewables are currently only intermittent generators …..solar only works in the day (and not as well in winter), wind only works when the wind is blowing sufficiently.   Also correct sizing of a solar array or wind turbine really impacts return on investment, so its wise not to go too large.

For those with more complex energy needs, combined heat and power systems can operate 24 hours a day, providing the largest savings.   They can provide heating, steam or even cooling as a by-product,  reducing grid electricity or gas usage, and providing more resilience,   They can also be carbon reducing or even carbon negative. Most CHP are also ready for 100% hydrogen when it becomes available, giving it some future proofing.

A key question though is where does the money come from for these measures ?      If the paybacks are still too long, or cash is already committed to other projects, then you can look for zero capex options where the provider will install the measures without cost to you,  and then charge you over time for their use. This is what we do at OEP Group (www.on-site.energy) for energy intensive manufacturers.

We can conduct a free review of your energy usage and recommend efficiency measures and onsite generation solutions without any commitments from you.  At the end, we provide you with our recommendations for both efficiency measures and onsite generation, and options for both capex and zero capex funding.

If this sounds interesting then please get in touch with our CEO, David Kipling at david@on-site.energy or call him on 0151 271 0037.

Energy efficient Air Management and Temperature Control

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By David Kipling, CEO – OEP Group

We regularly see air temperature and humidity management challenges in large buildings.  That can be in large logistics warehouses who have problems with solar gain in summer and very high temperatures at mezzanine levels or winter heating where the space is vast and there is pressure to reduce gas and fossil fuel usage.

Also in buildings with tight climate management, which need to maintain temperature and humidity within tight tolerances such as for pharmaceutical and electronics manufacturing.

The answer to date seems to have been to throw money at expensive air handling.  Even then employees often complain about cold or hot spots.   These can also manifest in uneven temperature for the stored product or production process, with implications on product quality.

There is a new approach though that can provide significant benefits.   The system uses a patented “stirring” approach which achieves uniform temperatures, and minimises stratification.  It only requires about 1/6th of the ducting usually needed, which also means less capacity is needed for AHUs and other air processing.  This can be paired with low energy fans and other technologies such as evaporative cooling to provide the required solutions.

The impact of this technology can be a reduction in energy costs of up to 40%, avoidance of replacement capex on AHUs, reduced operating costs to maintain and better staff comfort.   It could also resolve capacity constraints in some refrigeration applications.

If you would like to discuss how to implement energy efficient air management in your business, please contact David Kipling, CEO – OEP Group on 0151 271 0037 or email  david@on-site.energy (www.on-site.energy).

5 Minutes With… David Kipling, CEO, OEP Group

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

In the latest instalment of our energy management industry executive interview series we spoke to David Kipling (pictured, right), CEO at OEP Group, about the company, the challenges facing energy managers, sustainability, the surging price of gas and why your organisation should be exploring PPA and green tariffs…

What are the biggest challenges facing energy managers in the next 5 years?

There is going to be huge focus on energy in the next 5 years, as businesses see a pincer movement of higher energy prices and increasing pressure for sustainability.  Add to that the next ESOS deadline in 2023 and the increasing disclosure of energy performance via SECR reports, tight corporate budgets and energy managers are facing a perfect storm.

In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?

Demonstrating progress in implementing the 2023 ESOS findings (which will may mandatory to implement by then, in my view) and also the potential end of Climate Change Agreements (CCA) as we know them.  Businesses’ are going to need to more and more innovative, and are facing a wave of new capital investment.

What should businesses be doing about sustainability?

Our experience is improving sustainability and saving energy costs go hand in hand.   It makes sense to accelerate sustainability and there could also be advantages to your business by being ahead of your competitors in being more sustainable.  The only downside is capital investment is usually required, but that’s where my company can help.

What do you think will be the impacts of the recent high and volatile gas and electricity prices?

It has exposed weaknesses for many businesses in their energy management.  It has demonstrated the risk of higher prices, at levels previously not envisaged, and the potential impacts it could have.  I think businesses will start looking much harder at how to save energy and their hedging strategy.

What is the role of energy broking in mitigating the recent prices?

Energy broking has a significant role to play, mainly in helping businesses choose the right tariff (fixed or flexible) and also in hedging strategy, but they aren’t the whole answer.   Their scope to manage non-commodity and wholesale costs is limited. Energy brokers in reality can only deliver a limited amount of savings, and more control is in the hands of company’s to reduce energy consumption and use onsite generation to reduce market price road bumps.

What priority should company’s have on energy efficiency and onsite generation?

I think it should be at the top of the agenda.  Reducing consumption is the best way to reduce cost (and improve sustainability) and onsite generation offers a defence against market price movements.

Should businesses be exploring PPA and green tariffs?

Entering into a wind or solar PPA is topical, reduces CO2 and offers some defence against volatile wholesale costs.  But it doesn’t protect consumers against non-commodity costs for using the grid.

Green tariffs offer CO2 savings but they don’t impact local consumption.   They are also subject to the grid price changes that we have seen recently.

My personal view is that both PPA and Green tariffs can be inhibiters to change.  If they lock in an amount of usage, this can stop businesses looking for changes that reduce their consumption and their local CO2 emissions. 

How can your business help energy managers address these challenges?

OEP helps businesses both identify energy efficiencies and onsite generation, and fund them using our zero capex model.   We don’t charge for the upfront appraisal that identifies all the measures that could be enacted.  The result is both lower consumption and also stable, predictable prices for onsite generation over the term of our agreement (typically 10 years).

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

I get a real kick from identifying solutions that have been missed previously.  Also its great to see our projects being built within the customer’s premises and to seeing our proposals become the reality.

And what’s the most challenging?

We still face the “too good to be true” scepticism but its rewarding when they relent and see that what we are proposing can really work, and is supported by the data.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Focus.   Its easy to get distracted to jump on the latest bandwagon, but we are going to stay very focused on energy intensive manufacturers, where we can have the biggest impact for our planet.

You’ve done as much as you can with short payback, what else can you do?

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By David Kipling, OnSite Energy

Many companies have by now committed to energy reduction targets either through sustainability policy, net zero goals, CO2 emissions reduction targets or via CCA agreements. Further energy efficiencies are going to be needed, as the targets are getting tougher. For CCA, renewables don’t count, it is only efficiency that is eligible.

Where efficiencies can be found will depend on your company’s existing processes and sources of energy. 

The good news is there has never been so much innovation in energy technology.  Costs are falling and the range of applications and efficiencies are improving.   So if you appraised a technology three or more years ago, its probably worth revisiting that appraisal to take account of current pricing and improved efficiencies.  

At OEP, we take a data-led, technology agnostic approach.  We can often add-value by introducing technologies and solutions that hadn’t been considered, from artificial intelligence & internet of things sensing, to the latest heat recovery, absorption chillers, or wind technology.

If this sounds interesting then please get in touch with David Kipling at david@on-site.energy or call him on 07824 018991.  OEP specialises in supporting energy intensive industry.

5 Minutes With… David Kipling, Onsite Energy Projects Ltd

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

In the latest instalment of our energy management industry executive interview series, we spoke to OnSite Energy‘s David Kipling (pictured) about the company, the pathway to Net Zero, the impact of COVID-19 and innovation in the sector…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

DK: The inspiration for OEP came from my previous role where I led a team addressing energy in over 100 manufacturing plants globally. We saw the value of data-led energy analysis but also experienced the ‘glass ceiling’ of payback. My team came up with lots of solutions, but could only execute those with a short payback. With the pressure now on achieving carbon neutral and sustainability, companies are going to have to find a way of doing the longer payback measures that until now sit on the shelf.   That’s what OEP is about – we both identify measures with a data-led approach, but also implement them as a zero capex ‘off-balance sheet’ supply agreement.  This way we can help companies embrace net zero much faster.

We work with energy intensive manufacturing in the main, and cover a wide range of technologies including efficiency measures, onsite generation and heat recovery.  We think its important to identify the most appropriate measures and which will have most impact, so we keep an open mind on what we recommend and are instead guided by the data.  

What have been the biggest challenges the Energy Management industry has faced over the past 12 months?

DK:  Mis-selling. I see a lot of incorrect sizing and false expectations raised by single technology solution companies pushing solutions that aren’t appropriate, are wrongly sized or which just suit them without considering the long term impact on the customer or the career path of the person making the capex recommendation to their management. The proverbial ‘hit and run’. It makes a bad name for the industry when savings aren’t achieved.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

DK:  COVID-19 (!) and Net Zero. Every significant business now has a sustainability strategy with goals for achieving carbon neutral, but a lot have also had capex cut for at least the next few years because of COVID-19. So the pressure is building for change, and the main obstacles are capex and sometimes innovation. We can help with both of these with our zero capex approach, and enable companies to stay on track or even accelerate their plans.

What is the biggest priority for the Energy Management industry in 2020?

DK: There isn’t much left of 2020 now, but looking to 2021, I would say its going to be  decarbonisation. Companies are realising the values of decarbonising – often because savings can also be achieved in the process.  

The biggest challenge will be decarbonisation of heat – in other words planning to switch from gas to electricity. This will be a massive change for gas hungry businesses. I think this will be the priority in 2-4 years from now. For a lot of businesses that will mean significant additional cost unless they develop a comprehensive approach and plan.

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2021?

DK:  Higher focus on energy efficiency. The EU announced energy efficiency as a core priority and I think the UK will too. A lot of companies have bought green tariffs or offsets as a first step to becoming ‘green’ but haven’t addressed consumption within their sites.  With SECR reporting moving to its second year, comparisons and improvements will become more transparent and increase the pressure to act. Also for some climate change agreement targets are starting to be missed, which will lead to higher CCL costs if they don’t act.

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

DK:  Several contenders… much better heat recovery technology is with us enabling waste heat to be used to produce anything from -40oC to +140oC. This can transform the benefits from CHP, which until now has been thought of only for making hot water.  Also I think heat recovery to electricity.  Also I think there will be some innovative applications from artificial intelligence systems starting to make ground.  

In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?

DK:  Artificial intelligence. That’s not us pretending we know something !  Its software which learns how to improve performance of a building or process by itself. This will take BMS to the next level, and I think you will see applications in compressed air, process management etc.  

Which person in, or associated with, the Energy Management industry would you most like to meet?

DK:  Lisa Rose of Forum Events! Lisa’s enthusiast and is great at making people talk. We need more Lisas! We also need to get back to some face to face networking but that might be a little while off.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the Energy Management sector?

DK:  I think people enjoy learning about new technologies. It’s an exciting space which is innovating fast.  It also has a meaningful impact on both business profits and on climate change and sustainability, so the people in the Energy Management space are often driven by the benefits they can deliver.

You go to the bar at the Energy Management Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?

DK:  Mine’s a pint!

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

DK: Delivering new insights and levels of savings not thought possible.

And what’s the most challenging?

DK:  Countering the “we’ve seen it before” and NIMBYs. Reality is if they saw it previously it has either changed massively or it wasn’t approached in the way we would use it. It doesn’t hurt to take 15 minutes to see if you can learn something.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

DK:  Don’t worry about a “no”, there is someone more deserving coming along!

Peaky Blinders or Stranger Things?

DK:   My TV watching is limited to repeats of Top Gear.