The future of energy for smaller businesses

Cornwall Insight is joined by Fflur Lawton from Smart Energy GB and Dr Jeff Hardy of Imperial College London to discuss the potential opportunities and impacts for smaller businesses and their customers from the uptake of smart meters and smarter and innovative energy business models.

The smaller business community plays a critical role in the UK economy. In 2020 there were 5.7mn UK microbusinesses alone in this community, comprising 96% of all businesses, 33% of employment and 21% of turnover. This covers a range of organisations and sectors, including pubs and restaurants, shops and retail businesses, schools, and local authority buildings. These companies are also an important part of the energy market, using around 85TWh of electricity a year and a combined expenditure of £3.4bn in 2020. In the future, they could form an important part of a zero-carbon and smart energy system.

This discussion follows the publication of a joint report by Cornwall Insight and Dr Jeff Hardy for Smart Energy GB, The Future of Energy for Smaller Businesses, which examines new interactions and collaborations between smaller business customers and parties within the energy market through three case studies that characterise new opportunities:

  • Zeerah Collection; a high street speciality clothes and homeware shop using innovative intermediary services to minimise costs and hassle
  • Hobson House Bakery; a café and bakery using the energy-as-a-service offering from its landlord-owned shopping centre premises to access smart, bespoke services
  • Holly’s Heating & Plumbing; a home-based company benefiting from an integrated e-mobility offering

 Each of these three examples imagined archetypes, presented to show the opportunities that could emerge for smaller businesses to benefit from an improved interface with the energy market, deeper granularity of data available, and the range of potential services that can bring forward a wide variety of innovative propositions to help address the challenges faced by small and microbusinesses in the energy market.

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