Today the release of the UK Energy Efficiency Trends highlighted overwhelming support from the industry to remain in the EU. Overall, 79% of suppliers voted to stay and 64% of consumers said they’d vote to remain too. Rising energy prices were a particular concern for suppliers and consumers who worry prices might soar if the UK vote to leave the EU.
Consumers expressed concerns that the cost of buying energy saving technologies may also rise and that the potential roll back of EU-led policy initiatives by UK governments could increase uncertainty and undermine the business case for energy efficiency investments.
The report asked energy efficiency suppliers and consumers what Brexit outcome was in the best interests of the energy efficiency sector. Suppliers were overwhelmingly in support of an ‘in’ vote (79%) with 14% undecided and 7% opting for ‘out’. Consumer respondents were less certain, with 64% ‘in’, 30% undecided, and just 6% opting for ‘out’.
When asked about the potential impacts of a Brexit, 57% of supplier respondents would expect UK energy prices to rise and 42% of consumer respondents also anticipated energy price rises.
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Both suppliers and consumers were broadly positive about the impact of EU policy initiatives on the UK’s uptake of commercial sector energy efficiency initiatives. On the supply side, respondents agreed that the following EU policies had had a positive impact:
– Display Energy Certificates (68%)
– Energy Performance Certificates (68%)
– Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (76%)
– EU Emissions Trading Scheme (61%)
When asked the same question, commercial sector energy efficiency consumers were also generally positive, although slightly less markedly, giving the following responses:
– Display Energy Certificates (61%)
– Energy Performance Certificates (67%)
– Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (48%)*
– EU Emissions Trading Scheme (48%)*
*NB: Of the remaining 52% in both cases, the majority stated they didn’t know if these policy initiatives had increased the uptake of energy efficiency, suggesting a neutral view.
The report showed that uncertainty around Brexit had impacted 60% of supplier respondents’ business investment decisions but had no impact on EU-based orders, staff recruitment or sale prices.
Commenting on the findings, Ian Jeffries, Director at EEVS, said: “From this research we see that the UK energy management sector has planted itself firmly in the ‘remain’ camp on the Brexit debate.
“As well as an expectation that ‘leave’ would drive up the capital cost of energy saving technologies for consumers and lead to higher energy prices for all, both suppliers and consumers were fearful that the UK government’s poor record on energy efficiency would see well-established and popular EU policies that support energy efficiency, such as energy performance certificates in buildings, being scrapped to the detriment of the sector.
“With less than 7% of respondents supportive of a UK exit from the EU – and with political and economic uncertainties already reported to be holding back investment in energy efficiency schemes – from this research the energy management industry’s stance on Brexit is an overwhelming ‘remain’.”
Michael Rudd, partner specialising in energy management at international law firm Bird & Bird, said: “The EU has played a key role in energy management to date, through setting targets and legislating to improve energy efficiency in buildings and products.
“It has also provided some certainty in the energy management sector and contributed to investors’ confidence; the intangible effect on investor confidence may be the most important consequence of any Brexit.
“Some are concerned that Brexit could lead to the UK government moving away from new law or policy requiring energy management improvements, certainly when faced with criticisms from certain stakeholders regarding the current policy framework (e.g. excessive “red tape”).
“Others argue that a Brexit could result in the UK government and industry supporting and possibly requiring further energy efficiency improvements, perhaps as the government pulls further back from subsidising renewable generation.
“We are seeing growing momentum in the market now, regardless of the Brexit referendum; driven in part by the UK’s proactive energy consumers and other key stakeholders, but also by commercial requirements and the business impact of (high) energy costs.
“Our view is that the competitiveness of UK industry demands higher energy productivity, whether Britain remains in the EU or not.”
Richard Singleton, Managing Director, Corporate, at Bellrock said: “As a UK-based business with international clients, the uncertainty reflected in the report over the potential Brexit is certainly reflected by our own experience.
Decision-making is stagnating, and not just for energy efficiency projects, although this is not as true for our healthcare and education sector clients.
“We often experience a similar but more wide-reaching slow down, coming up to a general election, however unlike an election there are ramifications beyond the decision from the referendum. The long term trend for lower capital projects will probably continue therefore, until such a time as there is confidence in the clarity for trade and stability for the economy in general.”
The report is delivered by a research partnership between EEVS and Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and is supported by Bird & Bird and Bellrock.
New respondents are always needed to complete the survey. The ideal respondents fall into two categories:
– Directors within energy efficiency supply, consultancy and finance organisations
– Those responsible for reducing energy consumption within their own organisations
There is no restriction on size of organisation. Those interested in taking part in the next survey can register using this link.