Our partner Leo Strawbridge, Energy Manager at DCSDC, organised yesterday the third Local Energy Day within the SECURE project. More than 20 stakeholders, energy experts, business and advisors met at Guildhall in Derry/Londonderry city to learn more about opportunities for business sustainability and how to save energy in Northern Ireland.
Daniel Purdy, Technical Advisor at Invest NI, explained how they offer technical consultancy support. They have an energy efficiency loan fund to assist projects that deliver monetary savings and CO2 savings. They identify energy saving options (how to improve lighting levels, motion sensors, solar PV, ceiling and wall insulation or air seals, among others). Some of their awareness and actions are: read the meter, examine the bills, set targets, electricity tariff structure (consume when it’s cheapest) and make someone responsible and others aware. "Based on experience, the average SME could reduce its energy bill by 18-25% by installing energy efficiency measures with an average payback of less than 1.5 years. And it is estimated 40% of these savings would require zero capital cost".
North West Regional College offers an interesting Business Support Programme. Fergal Tuffy showed to the attendees the different available opportunities: innovation vouchers, skills and apprenticeship, fusion programme or knowledge transfer partnership, among others.
However, how can people save money on their business electricity bill? Gary Sims from Renewable partnerships gave some tips during the Local Energy Day. According to him, bills are often opaque – either ‘bundled’ or elements costs can be sometimes merged. Therefore, the potential for error is ‘great’.
Empowering people is also one of the main goals when referring to energy efficiency. Eddie Goldrick, director at the Electric Storage Company, explains that they “give customers empowerment through knowledge and data”. Goldrick believes that it is possible to get a return of investment for storage. “Customer behaviour is key determinant of efficiency but storage breaks dependence upon change in customer behaviour”.
Previous and current energy incentives
According to Action Renewables, there has been a change between the previous renewable energy technology incentives and the current ones. Alex Bookless, Senior Project Manager, explained that before, the incentives were: Renewable Obligation Certificates, Carbon Trust Loan (funded by Invest NI), on-site consumption and exported electricity. Nevertheless, even though current incentives are Carbon Trust Loan, exported electricity or on-site consumption, Bookless mentions that there is no sitting government and no live renewable energy incentive in Northern Ireland. “So currently, renewable energy is essentially unsupported”. He adds that it may be some years before new renewable strategy and policy is in place.
Energy efficiency study case in Derry City Hotel
Clare Campbell from Derry City Hotel presented an energy efficiency study case based on simply ideas to help the staff save on energy bill and “to make them pride of what they can achieved”. In Derry City Hotel they have created an energy awareness notice board where they regularly update targets and results. They also use a kWh calculator to show staff what is consumed by leaving items on. They discussed about how staff could save energy at home and what grants were available. “We invited Water aid in to chat to staff about the work they were doing. Staff could borrow the kWh monitor to use it at home, which helped them save money on their energy bills”. Between their measures, they do weekly energy audits, they have reduced the time settings on their equipment (on fans alone this measure has saved £2,000 a year), they have put times on wine fridges and some stickers on items that could be switched off (saving around 200kwh at night and £3,650 a year).
Regarding the investments, they have installed energy saving / led bulbs and sensor lighting throughout the hotel, energy saving shower heads and automatic window openers; insulated valves and flanges and installed two doors to reduce cold air coming through the lobby.
In terms of results, between 2006 and 2018, electric dropped by 228,052 kWh on average per year and gas by 322,328 kWh. Furthermore, they now spend £50,000 a year less on their utilities. “That’s 500k saved since we started”, adds Campbell.
Improving energy efficiency at home
Easy tips can help households to reduce energy bills. Laurence Arbuckle, Senior Manager at Bryson Energy, explained that there is an opportunity for a large number of domestic households to experience the benefits of renewable technologies. “There are lots of ways to make your home more energy efficient and when you save energy, you save money”, they highlight from Bryson Energy. In that way, Arbuckle presented the ‘Bryson Energy Biomass Boiler project’ and he spoke about heating, lighting and insulation solutions.