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Advanced metering key to small businesses cutting carbon emissions

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In partnership with Carbon Trust.

Based on these findings, the Carbon Trust is calling for the installation of advanced meters in all small and medium sized businesses across the UK.

The Carbon Trust’s trial – the largest in the UK to date – saw advanced meters installed at over 580 sites across the UK. Results show that by switching to advanced metering, on average SMEs can identify potential carbon savings of over 12 per cent and successfully achieve savings of over five per cent.

Cutting carbon also results in significant financial savings for SMEs. On average, the companies who took part in the trial saved over £1,000 a year on their energy bills. The largest financial benefits were seen by multi-site businesses, such as retail and wholesale chains, and for high energy users, such as small manufacturing companies. Widespread adoption of advanced metering across the UK would result in annual cost savings of £300m for small businesses.

The take-up of advanced metering technology is currently hindered by the lack of financial incentives for energy suppliers to provide these services to SMEs, which is why the Carbon Trust is calling for action and new policy measures to accelerate the roll out of this technology.

Tom Delay, chief executive of the Carbon Trust, commented: “Our trial has shown that advanced meters can help businesses save money and also deliver significant carbon savings for the UK at no extra cost to the economy. To harness this potential there needs to be a structured and sustainable roll out of this important technology to help the UK meet its commitment to cut carbon by 60 per cent by 2050.” 

He added, “Widespread use of advanced metering will also create new business opportunities for energy suppliers and metering service providers.”

Advanced meters enable businesses to identify energy, cost and carbon savings by providing detailed information about the way they use their energy. Although well established in large companies they are not widely used by small businesses, which currently use over 2.7m traditional energy meters. The energy consumption through these meters is worth around £6.5bn per year and leads to emissions of over 50m tonnes of CO2 per year. This is greater than the total annual emissions from all UK aviation.

Based on the new evidence from this study, the Carbon Trust is making the following recommendations:

  • Government should take action to ensure a widespread roll out of advanced metering technology to SME users;
  • Government should work to ensure that appropriate standards are put in place regarding advanced meter functionality, data availability and data transfer procedures;
  • Energy suppliers and metering service providers should investigate new business models to provide innovative metering services to their SME clients; and
  • Trade bodies, the Carbon Trust and others should continue to promote the benefits of proactive use of advanced meters to the SME community.

The aim of the advanced metering field trial was to demonstrate the potential benefits of the technology and understand whether there was a case for encouraging the widespread adoption of advanced metering by SMEs.

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