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The greenest and cheapest form of energy

These days there’s an ever-growing list of clean, low carbon energy sources to call upon. But which one is the greenest and the cheapest?

  1. Onshore wind?
  2. Offshore wind?
  3. Solar?
  4. Hydro?
  5. Wave?
  6. Tidal?
  7. None of the above?

The answer is, of course, 7 - None of the above. The greenest and cheapest form of energy is the energy you don’t use, by being more efficient with what you already have.

Okay, so it’s a trick question. But it does highlight how quickly energy efficiency is forgotten when we start talking about greener energy.

Not using energy is far more valuable to the planet (and your pocket) than even the cleanest power source. A kWh of electricity that no longer needs to be generated has no impact on the planet whatsoever – that’s something no wind turbine or solar panel can ever compete with.

Saving energy is also incredibly affordable compared to generating more of it.

If we imagine energy efficiency as one huge power plant made up of every building in the country, real power plants look extremely expensive in comparison. Take the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, for example. The current estimate is that it will cost around £23 billion to build. Yet by implementing energy-saving measures like more efficient lighting, ventilation and heating, UK businesses could collectively save the same amount of energy as Hinkley will generate, for just £6 billion – a quarter of the cost![1]

The average business is sitting on a potential gold mine of low cost, high reward energy savings. In fact, research suggests that nearly 40% of the savings small businesses could achieve through energy efficiency require no capital investment whatsoever.[2]

Energy efficiency is also absolutely crucial for achieving the net zero-emission energy system our society needs. This is because electricity demand is set to increase significantly over the coming years, and without reducing our energy intensity (the amount of energy we need to deliver goods and services), this growth in demand will outpace the speed at which we can build new wind farms and other sources of clean power.[3]

For these reasons, consuming less energy should be the foundation of every business’ net-zero strategy. Big ticket items like a solar panel system on your roof are important, but don’t skip the energy efficiency section of your to-do list to get there.

Think about it this way. If you have a building that’s wasting a lot of power through outdated lighting that’s always being left on, an ancient HVAC system on its last breath, or inefficient electrical equipment that isn’t working like it should, dropping a huge solar panel array on the roof is not necessarily a sound investment. Yes, you’ll be turning sunlight into your own clean electricity, but if most of that power is going to be wasted anyway, you might as well be reflecting it back into space.

That’s why energy efficiency should always come first. It puts the groundwork in place so that when you do finally get those solar panels you’ve been dreaming about, you know every drop of that green energy will be used well.

OAK is designed to help you with that groundwork by identifying clever ways for you to minimise your energy consumption and plan for a green, net-zero future.

So what are you waiting for?