Boosting access for SMEs to energy efficiency

David Paul writes on the Digit website about a new effort to be able to get SMEs to improve their energy efficiency. The plan is to develop a platform that will simplify the process of engaging with energy efficiency by automatically optimising a business’ total energy consumption and the energy performance of its premises specifically. What are your views?


Arbnco Partners with Centrica to Improve SME Energy Efficiency

Scottish building optimisation company, arbnco, has won a £641,000 contract for phase two of ‘Boosting Access for SMEs to Energy Efficiency’ (BASEE), the Government innovation competition.

The contract with the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), through its Energy Innovation Programme, will allow arbnco to develop a prototype of its Digital Energy Efficiency Platform (DEEP) to improve energy efficiency across the UK’s 5.9 million SMEs. Phase two of the project will involve arbnco deploying the prototype for pilots in the central belt of Scotland, the West Midlands and Bridgend, Wales.

Led by arbnco, the project brings together energy and services company Centrica, Energy Systems Catapult, Aston Business School, Durham County Council and sustainable finance company, Cyan Finance.

DEEP will simplify the process of engaging with energy efficiency by automatically optimising a business’ total energy consumption and the energy performance of its premises specifically.

The platform will use a range of data sources such as energy consumption and building energy performance, retrieved automatically or supplied by the SME, to generate a unique list of physical and behavioural energy efficiency recommendations together with costs, trusted suppliers and finance options.

Andrew Stewart, research and development manager at arbnco, said: “The first phase of the project focussed on the technical feasibility of the platform as well as, understanding of the obstacles that SMEs face when it comes to energy efficiency.

“A review of potential business models was conducted by Energy Systems Catapult during the first phase. Bringing Centrica on board for phase two will provide greater insight and access to SMEs as we look to roll the platform out nationwide

“By providing SMEs with critical insight into their energy use and tailored retrofit recommendations, based on an assessment of the energy performance of their building and patterns in their energy consumption, we can help thousands of businesses become more energy efficient.”

Liam Burlinson, head of business energy efficiency at British Gas Business, said: “SMEs have a critical role to play as the UK strives to meet its net-zero targets, but they often don’t know where to start when it comes to improving energy efficiency.

“Centrica is committed to helping customers become more sustainable and we think arbnco’s platform can help tackle some of the fundamental barriers that exist for SMEs today – such as lack of time, money or internal expertise to make targeted, cost-effective changes.”

Phase two of the project began in February 2020 and will run for 14 months. Following completion in April 2021, the platform will be rolled out nationally.

arbnco has partnered with Energy Systems Catapult on the project, which is providing Business Model Innovation support to improve the functionality and usability of the DEEP prototype.

Rebecca Lane, business modelling analyst at Energy Systems Catapult, said: “Having worked with arbnco on phase one of the project, we are confident we have now identified a strong value proposition from both ends of the value chain.

“As the project moves into phase two, we will be working with arbnco and Centrica to pilot the prototype in three locations across the UK and develop the product ready for its national rollout in 2021.”

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