For the next generation of entrepreneurs, a key element of the business model will be securing a reliable supply of commercial energy so that they can operate and grow in a tough environment.
With several UK coal-fired power stations closing by 2015 to meet carbon emissions targets, there are predictions that the UK could face an energy gap between the demand and the supply available. Energy regulator Ofgem recently warned that Britain’s spare generating margin could fall from 14% currently to as low as 2% by 2015 which could lead to power shortages unless the gap is filled by a sudden availability of energy from another source.
As a result, firms are becoming more conscious about energy consumption and there is a growing trend for companies to actively pursue ways to reduce energy use to save money and be greener.
One innovation underpinning this is the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s scheme to install smart meters in all UK small businesses by 2020. These monitor energy use in real time so a firm can identify how much energy they use and where it is wasted. The business can then target energy-saving measures like insulation or installing sensors for lighting to address this waste.
Another developing area is microgeneration, where a firm produces some of its own energy by installing wind turbines, solar panels or even a biomass system where wood is burned to provide hot water or heating. This saves money because less energy is bought from the energy supplier, it cuts their carbon footprint and any surplus can be sold back to the National Grid.
With challenges come opportunities, and many future start-ups will be able to tap into a growing market where consumers are more conscious about saving energy and their environment. This awareness can be seen in the range of energy efficient white household goods and technology which is available in the British Gas sponsored Smarta 100 Awards. Last year’s winner was Eco Egg, which offers households a cheap way to wash their clothes without conventional detergent, helping the consumer save money and be more eco-friendly by using less chemicals.