According to a survey conducted by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) a tenth of small businesses now produce their own electricity, which is why the report calls for the government to make it easier for small companies to contribute to green energy generation.
The research was released on Wednesday 4th January by FSB and highlighted that on-site energy was generated by 12% of the 1,996 surveyed (mostly through solar panel installations). According to the survey nearly 60% have made changes to their businesses to improve energy efficiency, with efficient lighting being the most popular measure taken as 40% of small business have now had them installed.
The survey showed that 86% of its members were concerned over import dependence, but overall the biggest worry for small businesses was security of supply.
It is made clear in the report that improved incentives and fewer barriers will mean that small businesses can play a key part in closing the national carbon gap. The FSB states that a new carbon plan that reduces the UK’s reliance on imported energy as well as a precise a strategy on microgeneration, storage, efficiency and demand response would help SMEs invest more in low-carbon solutions. This would, in turn, help the UK become more self-sufficient in terms of energy supply and help meet carbon targets.
FSB’s national chairman Mike Cherry said: “The UK energy sector is facing the greatest transformation since the Industrial Revolution. But the whole system for incentivising and subsidising infrastructure lacks transparency, consistency, direction and ambition. It needs a strategic overhaul.
“The Government should produce urgently an updated carbon plan, looking specifically at small businesses as an audience. Without the input of an engaged and empowered small business community, the UK risks failing to meet its binding emissions targets.”
Over the last year, the government has made various cuts to green subsidies including the Feed-in-Tariffs (FiT) and the Renewables Obligation (RO). Although the impact of these cuts remains unclear at the moment, the FSB warns that early anecdotal evidence from its members suggests that the industry is “gravely concerned”.
The FSB also calls on ministers to clarify access to the EU Internal Energy Market in light of Britain’s decision to leave the EU, as well as provide reassurance that the UK is committed to carbon reduction targets.
“Our research shows small firms want energy security to be a priority,” Cherry continued. “Brexit raises yet more questions about the UK’s future power supply. Infrastructure costs must be shared out equitably with small firms playing a pivotal role in securing Britain’s energy future.”
In the past few months, the business community has called on the government to restore “tepid” confidence in the UK’s future energy security by introducing reforms that will increase the use of low-carbon technologies.
Read the full FSB report: The Price of Power – Energising small businesses into the next UK carbon plan