It’s crunch time for businesses to cut energy costs – Bruce Raffell

The climate change battle is now at a crucial point where sustainable buildings are vital, not only to ensure the long-term safety of the planet, but to help businesses and homeowners navigate surging energy costs. Unfortunately fuel poverty is becoming increasingly prevalent, business energy costs are increasingly challenging and the impact of fossil fuels on our planet is starkly evident. 

Thankfully the way we generate our energy is shifting dramatically. The last quarter of 2023 showed a considerable 17% increase in the output of renewable energy compared to 2022. On the other hand, oil production fell to a record quarterly low and gas production plummeted by as much as 13%.

As part of a company that has been providing integrated solar and roofing solutions for over 30 years, I am able to see first hand the environmental and economic impact of solar installation for businesses and homeowners. Working with a variety of sectors, from housebuilders and manufacturing businesses, to domestic, we help achieve significant, long term savings in energy bills every year. With the right advice, design and installation, it is possible to shrink the standard unit cost of electricity by as much as 90% to as little as 7 pence per kWh.

We were delighted to be recognised for our contribution to the environment with the People Place Planet award from industry body, Homes for Scotland, which represents the home building sector. In addition to new build homes, solar brings striking benefits to all industries. For high-energy users such as agriculture, food and drink, and manufacturing businesses, the payback opportunities are remarkable. 

One of our most recent customers is a luxury holiday park and leisure business in the East Neuk of Fife. With accommodation for hundreds of guests, restaurants and a leisure complex with a swimming pool, energy costs were a significant share of their running costs. In less than a year they have already reduced their reliance on the grid by up to 40%, thanks to their rooftop solar PV installation. With a reduction in energy bills and savings that already equate to tens of thousands of pounds every year, we are currently in the midst of installing the next phase of solar – a ground mounted system – to help them maximise these energy savings even more.  

But sadly, many high-energy users still are yet to grasp the energy nettle to reap the benefits of solar energy. The lighter days are fast approaching and the cost of solar installation is at an all-time low. The average price per panel has halved over the past year due to the scaling up of global production and large stocks available throughout Europe. With growing geo-political challenges it is only a matter of time until these stocks are used up and shipment prices rise, which will lead to higher costs to install solar. 

It’s crunch time, and businesses who want to make major energy savings and help battle climate change need to act fast in order to make tangible change at a much lower expense.

We’re currently facing a severely challenging climate both economically and environmentally. In the coming months I hope to see more commercial companies take the leap towards their solar energy future. Whilst it might seem like a daunting change to begin with, with the right expert guidance and type of solar installation, the long-term reward will do wonders in helping manage spiralling energy bills as well as helping to save our planet.

Bruce Raffell is commercial director at Forster Group, Scotland’s largest integrated solar roofing business.

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