How smaller companies can embrace renewable energy

A file photo of a wind farm.
A file photo of a wind farm.

The last few years has seen a welcome change in mentality when it comes to lowering carbon emissions and embracing green energy.

We’re starting to see more of a shift towards renewable energy —  electricity generation has dropped and a new record for green power has been set.

An amazing third of the UK’s electricity came from renewable sources last year. Wind provided 17% of the total power generated in 2018, biomass contributed 11%, and solar accounted for 4%, as shown in analysis by climate and energy website Carbon Brief.

Smaller companies that want to go greener may be worried about the additional costs of renewable energy compared to ‘normal’ energy, particularly if on a budget. However, there are ways that you can move towards renewable energy that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

Read on to find out what changes you can make as a smaller company to embrace renewable energy.

Find a green supplier for renewable energy

You don’t have to be a corporate giant to make simple changes such as finding a green energy supplier.

In the last decade, we’ve seen the emergence of a whole host of new and exciting independent energy suppliers. This means you’re no longer lumbered with having to choose between the Big Six — there are plenty of alternative suppliers that will provide you with cheaper tariffs and will be able to promise a certain percentage of their energy is green.

Smaller, greener suppliers like Bulb or Tonik Energy or specifically buy energy from the industry that has been generated by wind or solar. Some of them (or their parent companies) also fund or operate hydropower stations, solar sites, wind generation and anaerobic digestion plants. If you sign up to a 100% green tariff from one of these suppliers, you’ll know that the money you’re paying goes towards saving the planet.

Install your own solar panels

If your office or company building has some spare roof space (which you own, or have a long term lease on), you might want to consider installing solar panels to cut your carbon footprint.

There are many benefits to using solar panels, such as the ability to produce free, green electricity for your site. This means that your company will need less energy from the grid during the day.

Unfortunately, there is a relatively high initial cost for installing solar panels (around £5,000 to £8,000 for 3kW to 4kW solar panels), so unless you have the money available to buy your panels outright, it can take some time to see them start to pay for themselves.

The good news is that the UK government have set up a Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme that will pay you for the energy your solar panels produce. The FiT scheme pays you a current rate for every unit of electricity that your system generates (regardless of whether you use it or not), and you’ll also be paid for any unused energy that is exported back to the grid.

The Feed-in Tariff scheme can be applied whether you work in a commercial building or from your own home, so if you’re a remote worker or an entrepreneur with an online store, you can still earn extra money running your business and staying green.

In the long run, solar panels can save you money and secure energy generation for the future of your business — as well as help to save the environment.

Sign up for renewable-fuelled heating

As a smaller company, you can also invest in renewable-fueled heating such as wood-fuelled heating systems (also known as biomass systems).

Depending on the size and type, biomass systems can be used to heat a room, as a stove, or to power central heating and hot water boilers for your whole workspace.

As well as proving to be more effective than other heating options, renewable-fuelled heating is of course a low-carbon option, with minimal carbon dioxide being emitted.

The UK Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme was set up a few years ago to encourage the use of renewable heat technologies in domestic households as well as commercial. This means that small business can take advantage of the scheme and receive quarterly payments over 20 years for their use of a renewable heating system.

Like solar panels, biomass systems do require an initial investment for installation, and, depending on the type you choose, installation of a new boiler system that can use biofuels.

Consumer demand for greener, lower-carbon products and services is on the rise. As a smaller business, embracing renewable energy has many benefits: not only are you investing in the future of our planet with your energy choices, but you’re also appealing to a modern market that is putting sustainability at the top of its priority list. Tie this in with waste reduction and other sustainability efforts and you’ll have a well-rounded plan for becoming and staying environmentally friendly.

By making steps towards running a greener business, you’ll be reducing your company’s contribution towards climate change, future-proofing your business, strengthening your brand and increasing your long term profits.