Small businesses in the UK are concerned about energy security and believe the UK should be more self-sufficient, according to a new report from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). But they are optimistic about the role of renewable energy generation and many want to participate in what they see as an important and growing market.
In its report “The Price of Power – Energising Small Businesses in the Next Carbon Plan” the organisation called on the government to ensure that the evolving energy landscape would provide opportunities for small businesses, as generators and investors, consumers, and suppliers of products and services.
The FSB found that:
- 12% of FSB small businesses already generate their own electricity, the vast majority of which is from solar panels.
- 41% of FSB small businesses believe renewable and low carbon energy will be cheaper than fossil fuel in future. Only 23% believe it will never be as cheap.
- 27% believe that a low carbon economy will create more opportunities than threats for their business. Just 14% believe the opposite.
- 33% of FSB small businesses believe that energy efficiency savings will offset the increasing cost of their energy. 23% do not think this will be the case.
As BEIS develops its industrial strategy, FSB said the government must provide a stable investment landscape, with an updated Carbon Plan that includes “a specific strategy for promoting microgeneration, efficiency, storage and demand response across the UK small business community.”
It wanted reviews of the role of distribution network operators and of grid charging regimes to help incentivise microgeneration and storage. It also wanted more and better-targetted action from government and suppliers to help small businesses reduce their energy costs and take action on efficiency.
Supply chain action
The FSB report found that small businesses were keen to supply products and services to the energy industry. But there were few appropriately sized contract opportunities “as a result of contract aggregations and use of frameworks which frequently exclude small suppliers”. Complex supply chain processes and accreditation requirements could exclude small suppliers and “poor payment practices continue to be a massive problem”.
It said, “New and emerging energy industries can assist by putting in place and monitoring specific payment policies for small business suppliers. These industries can set the example in terms of robust implementation, monitoring and enforcement through their entire supply chains.”
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