An early warning

Are energy managers set to become "The rock stars of the corporate world"?

At the Energy Management Exhibition (EMEX) in London there were some fascinating facts and figures flying around from the Energy Managers Association (EMA). They paint a rather worrying picture of Britain’s precarious position on energy.

For example, our grid infrastructure will need £110 billion pounds of investment by 2020. A new gas power plant can be built in 18 months, but it takes just over 6 years to connect it to the grid. Even if we build all the proposed nuclear power stations, they won’t come online until the late 2020s. And it could take ten to fifteen years to develop a mature fracking industry.

Little wonder that the EMA predicts that good energy managers are going to be in great demand in the next few years, predicting that they will become the ‘rock stars of the corporate world’.

And if you think that’s a bit of spin to talk up the profession, consider this. Many of the UK’s households will be in fuel poverty by 2020 – and what’s more, it is predicted that we’ll be talking about ‘corporate fuel poverty’ too.

The problem for businesses is one of prediction. If the business directors predict that energy will cost them X thousand this year, but prices rise by 15% to 20%, then that extra money will have to be found somewhere – probably straight from the bottom line profit. It is not a margin that many businesses can sustain.

However you look at it, we have to hone our energy management skills. The EMA has laudable plans to introduce training for its members, but is also looking to technology to assist in the drive to cut energy waste.

It predicts that the Internet of Things will enable remote energy monitoring to become a reality for most companies – the technology is widely available already. Keeping track and giving responsibility to employees for their energy use is a key trend. In some ways, we’ll all have to be energy managers.

It is easy to dismiss big numbers, but the head of the EMA Lord Rupert Redesdale has been involved in energy and its management for some time, so he has some insight into how the market is changing. It may pay dividends to heed his warnings.

Karen Fletcher is director of Keystone Communications. 

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