Could your organisation be more active in the energy system?

SmartestEnergy is a partner of the Living Grid initiative to encourage organisations becoming more active in the energy system. Mike Watts, Strategic Sales Manager, discusses why more organisations are taking on an active role and the steps to get started on this journey.

Traditionally, most businesses have been passive in the energy system – running their operations with little thought about energy, apart from the price they pay and how to use less.

With Britain’s electricity system in the midst of major changes driven by the power of digital control and decentralised renewable generation, we are now seeing a shift from a passive demand-led economy to an active supply-led economy.

Organisations are now recognising their role in the wider system and thinking more about how they use energy.

There are many ways to do this that go beyond the traditional energy saving audits, such as identifying on-site power storage options and ways to shift the time electricity is used to when the price is lower.

So why are we seeing this shift from passive to active?

The main driver is something that’s important to all businesses – money.

An active organisation would save money on energy bills and could even create new revenue, if for example demand response or storage options were identified as feasible.

There are also sustainability advantages that can be unlocked by using energy in a smarter way.

If organisations can be flexible with when they consume energy, National Grid can more closely match demand to the increasingly-abundant renewable generation in our system and reduce the need for more fossil fuel power stations.

Alternatively, by investing in their own renewable generation, businesses can reduce their demand on the grid and even provide excess power to other users of the network, including their local communities.

A great example of this is our customer Landsec, who has just switched on Britain’s biggest shopping centre solar installation this week.

It’s great to see these pioneer companies reaping the benefits of a more active approach to energy, but many organisations are just at the start of their journey.

There are many different ways to bring energy to life and every organisation will be different.

The first step is to assess your current energy patterns and identify areas for improvement or change.

Researching to see what other businesses are doing through online case studies, social media and attending trade events can also be useful.

A joint approach from the energy managers and sustainability teams is important here as there is major overlap between operations and strategy.

There may also be ideas from elsewhere in the business - the energy/sustainability teams may lead the shift, however ideas of how to improve can come from all areas of the business.

We have worked with the Living Grid to produce a short document with some questions to kick-start this process:

• How do we control our energy costs going forward?
• How can we reduce our overall demand?
• How do we ensure we have continuity of supply?
• Where is there flexibility in our consumption? Can we use this?
• Can we benefit from commercial-scale storage?
• Does our board demonstrate its commitment to lead on climate change?

> Download the full guide here

The Living Grid is an initiative of the global non-profit sustainability group Forum for the Future. Watch the Living Grid video below to hear from organisations that are already embracing an active approach to energy and follow the conversation on social media with #livinggrid to learn more:

> Find out more about the Living Grid here