“Scottish businesses must be motivated by more than the financial bottom line if they are to help build a fairer and greener Scotland.”
This is the conclusion of the report “Better Business” that has been released by Social Value Lab on business practices in Scotland. The research set out to answer the following questions and explore the barriers so many businesses face in changing the corporate behaviour:
The results were very encouraging, showing that there is an appetite from Scottish businesses to play a role in creating a fairer and greener Scotland. Some of the most promising responses include 85% of businesses reporting that community, social and environmental issues as either ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ important to them and nine in ten companies (89%) felt they were delivering on their social and environmental responsibilities.
However, it also found barriers that business face, including pressures caused by business size with just 15% of small companies reported to fully support employee volunteering, 22% among mid-sized companies and a huge gap to 51% among large companies. There was also a clear issue with equality for women with, only 13% of all board posts held by women and over half (56%) of the firms with none at all. Just 4% of CEOs are women.
This report is hugely important to us at Forster Group, not only because we try to lead by example in environmental and social responsibility, but we also strive to see this culture extend out into our industry and wider community. We began in the construction industry 26 years ago, and since taking on our first trainee in 1990, we haven’t stopped seeing the value in investing in the workforce of the future.
We invested in our business early, building lasting relationships from the beginning with local schools and colleges, we have collaborated on many initiatives to invest in new skills for young people. In 2014 this eventually led to the creation of our Forster Skills Academy, a custom-designed training centre delivering innovative Modern Apprenticeship qualifications for people looking to learn a trade in roofing. We have so far taken on 12 new apprentices and will continue to take on a further 12 into 2016.
Investing in our people has served us well for the future, ensuring an injection of new ideas and fresh thinking in the business, the development of a pipeline of talent, as well as improved capacity to react to customer demand. Last year we were accredited as one of the first wave of Investors in Young People employers in Scotland and 32% of our workforce are aged under 25 years old.
Our people are our business, so working innovatively, collaboratively and investing in the future of our industry are key to staying one step ahead and the continued success of any business.
In only a few short months the solar industry has gone from being the rising star of the renewables revolution to a sector under incredible pressure.
Following the UK government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) planned review of the Feed-in Tariff (FiT), a consultation was launched in August setting out plans to slash the sub 10kW solar tariff by an astonishing 87% and stripping back the sub 50kW tariff (popular with many businesses) by almost 70% from January 2016. The ability to pre-register or lock into a tariff level will also be removed, from 2016.
The UK government’s proposed cuts threaten to dismantle all the work invested in creating confidence and stability for the industry and investors, which have driven growth in Scotland’s economy.
What does this mean for Scottish businesses?
With over 5GW of on-shore wind and barely 200MW of installed solar it is clear that solar combined with a growing energy storage industry can provide the necessary balance to help meet The Scottish Government’s renewable electricity aspirations.
It is clear that those installing solar in 2015 before the cuts, will benefit from the greatest return on their investment if they act now.
However from 2016 there is still hope for the future of solar. After the massive cuts to the FiT in 2011, we saw a 70 per cent fall in the cost of solar panels. And again we expect a similar outcome, as these final cuts are implemented. This could mean that a high energy using business could still see a 15 per cent+ annual return on their investment.
A further drop in costs will follow the planned removal of the Minimum Import Price (MIP) imposed on Chinese manufactured panels in 2013 which could well bring a further 25 per cent reduction in the price of panels.
With the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicting that solar could be the world’s largest source of electricity by 2050, we can be confident that irrespective of the Government cuts, solar will play an increasingly significant role in Scotland’s energy sector.
To speak to us about how to benefit from solar and how this will affect your business contact me on John.Forster@forstergroup.co.uk
On Friday 3rd July, we welcomed, Murdo Fraser MSP to Cronan Farm, in Perthshire to visit one of our largest solar installations and speak to our team about the benefits for agricultural businesses.
Murdo Fraser MSP said,
“The solar industry provides a fantastic source of clean, low cost energy that farms like this can benefit from. Today was a great opportunity to see first-hand these benefits and meet those involved.”
Cronan Farm is home to MJ & J McLaren broccoli and potato enterprise, which installed a 720 panel solar array to provide power for the farm cold stores. The installation exemplifies the appetite for solar amongst Scottish farmers, keen to reduce their energy costs by generating their own cheaper and cleaner electricity.
Scotland is already a strong advocate of solar with 35,000 homes and 600 businesses currently benefitting from solar technology.
As Forster prepare to celebrate 25-years of roofing Scottish homes, the market leading roofing and solar services provider is also embracing a new modern website, which brings together the company’s core roofing and energy businesses into a single site.
The site provides information for house builders, public sector and community bodies, social housing landlords, farmers and commercial landlords and tenants interested in finding out about the exciting benefits of installing solar. Visitors to the site can browse through case studies, showcasing the companies work for existing clients in these sectors, search and apply for jobs as well as stay up-to-date with the businesses activities and industry news.
“As we prepare to celebrate a significant landmark in our history, it’s a great time to be launching a new, modern website, which reflects our passionate and aspirational approach.. The new site communicates our commitment to delivering excellence in every area of our business” explained Marketing Executive, Peter Barrow. “It is a central tool in communicating the key benefits of solar as well as our core service offerings, particularly our integrated solar roofing service.”
Denvir Marketing, the agency which project managed the development of the site, said it was an exciting time for Forster Group and Denvir Marketing. Charlotte Jordan, Marketing Manager at Denvir Marketing, said:
“This fresh, clean and contemporary website reflects Forster Group’s energy, drive and enthusiasm for solar and roofing. The advances being made in the solar industry are phenomenal and we feel this new website will enable Forster Group to maintain its position as the number one roofing, solar and integrated solar business in Scotland.”
Leading provider of roof-top and free-standing solar photovoltaics in Scotland, Forster Energy, is all set for this year’s All-Energy Exhibition and Conference.
The event, which is the UK’s largest renewable energy showcase, takes place at the SECC, Glasgow on May 6 and 7.
Forster Energy will again be sharing a stand H30 with Angus Council where they will be showcasing their popular in-roof solar display. Their team of experts will be on hand to discuss the fantastic opportunity that solar presents for house builders, public sector and community bodies, social housing landlords, farmers and commercial landlords and tenants.
STA Scotland are hosting a networking breakfast, sponsored by Forster Energy at Sunamp’s stand B21 on Thursday May 7 between 9:30 and 10:30. All are welcome to join us for a bacon bap, croissant or a healthy fruit platter to celebrate the recent launch of STA Scotland and to network with solar industry professionals.
All Energy 2015 looks to build on the success of previous years and is this year being held in Glasgow for the first time, following 10 years in Aberdeen.
With more than 450 exhibition stands and over 120 hours of presentations, delivered by 440 industry expert speakers – All-Energy 2015 is the place to be to for all with an interest in renewables. Come along and explore new opportunities, forge deals and participate in unrivalled networking, at this free to-attend event.