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FEATURE SEIZING THE ADVANTAGE


The role that energy plays within businesses is changing. Here Tim Wynn-Jones, Head of Consultative Solutions at Centrica Business Solutions, examines how new energy technology can offer facilities managers greater control – and bring about some more surprising benefits.


Across public and private sectors, businesses are under pressure to reduce their carbon footprint and cut costs. The dual pressures of government emissions targets and now coronavirus recovery are placing greater urgency on firms to act now.


Often, though, it falls to FMs to identify, implement and manage any changes associated with energy, from reducing bills to implementing more renewable, environmentally sustainable solutions. This is a challenge, yes, but also an opportunity.


Turning insight


into advantage Changes to how – and where – energy is generated mean it has become much more than just an unavoidable cost to businesses. With the right strategy, energy can actually become a source of competitive advantage, helping firms to improve operational resilience, bring down emissions and even bolster revenue streams. It all starts with insight.


Other businesses are opting for completely renewable technology and harnessing the power of the sun with solar panels. Installing solar photovoltaic (PV) panels enables firms to unlock value from existing assets like their roof or car park and generate their own efficient energy supply instead of drawing more expensive energy from the grid.


“Combined heat and power (CHP) units work by converting gas into both electricity and heat in a single


process and are one of the most efficient sources of energy production currently available.”


Smart sensor technology, specifically wireless sensors connected to energy- using equipment, can help FMs to build up an understanding of their business’ current energy consumption. Data from the sensors, viewed in near real-time through a digital dashboard, can then be used to monitor usage levels, identify trends, and spot any fluctuations in energy use that could indicate faulty equipment or inefficient practices.


Once insights have been gathered, FMs can make informed decisions about the energy strategy that’s best for them. Increasingly, those strategies include becoming more self- sufficient when it comes to energy generation – in order to realise business goals that are now mission-critical: cost reduction and emissions elimination.


On-site generation There are a whole host of technologies that make on- site energy generation possible for businesses. One example is combined heat and power (CHP). CHP units work by converting gas into both electricity and heat in a single process and are one of the most efficient sources of energy production currently available. CHP, or cogeneration, is particularly popular among businesses with significant heating needs because it’s one of the few technologies that allows them to generate their own electricity and heat and use it on-site. As such, CHP can reduce energy costs by up to 40%.


56 | TOMORROW’S FM


The power that the solar PV panels generate can be used directly on-site, stored in a battery for later use to lower energy costs during peak times or, in some cases, fed back into the grid to create an additional revenue stream. This form of power is 100% sustainable and cost- effective, making it an attractive option for FMs looking to reduce organisational cost and carbon emissions.


Energy as a service


For firms looking to reap the benefits of the latest energy technology, there are a number of options available to support investment.


One is ‘energy as a service’, a model that, in


essence, allows businesses to access to modern energy technology – alongside analytics and even access to grid markets – in one, fully financed package. These energy solutions are designed, installed and managed by the firm’s energy partner, which will monitor usage and optimise the technology to deliver guaranteed savings on energy costs.


With this model, firms can become more self-sufficient when it comes to their energy strategy – but without the need for up-front payment for the technology, and no outlay on installation, upgrades or maintenance. The added bonus is that it also allows FMs to treat energy as an asset that can be sold, for-profit, through demand-side response schemes and the Capacity Market.


Seizing the opportunity Energy management is increasingly falling within the remit of the facilities manager. If approached positively and proactively, optimising a firm’s energy strategy with the incorporation of the latest on-site generation technology is a chance to increase efficiency, reduce carbon emissions and control cost – as well as opening up completely new revenue streams.


www.centricabusinesssolutions.com twitter.com/TomorrowsFM


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