Electricity and heat generated from recycled food waste, wind turbines and solar panels will save UK businesses £33bn between 2010 and 2030 and cut carbon emissions significantly, a new study has revealed.

The study, commissioned by the specialist energy consultancy Utilyx, reveals that by 2030 on-site energy generation will contribute 14% of the UK’s energy needs – far exceeding the 9% generating capacity recorded in 2011.

On-site energy, also known as decentralised energy, is energy generated by low carbon or renewable technologies, close to where it will be consumed.

Combined heat and power (CHP) and energy from waste are predicted to deliver the greatest savings to UK businesses by 2030 (£20bn) but solar and tri-generation (the simultaneous creation of cooling, heat and power) are expected to grow the fastest.

The research was based upon a detailed forecast model which analysed the uptake of six major decentralised energy technologies across 23 sectors including retail, banking, manufacturing, utilities and construction.

The study, carried out by independent analyst firm Verdantix, found that decentralised energy will deliver total carbon emissions savings of 350 million tonnes by 2030.

The research was supported by interviews with decentralised energy stakeholders including UK based businesses with annual revenues each of at least £150m, decentralised energy technology service providers, energy finance firms, government and trade bodies.

Unlike electricity from the grid, where heat from the generation is released into the atmosphere and further electricity is lost in transmission and generation, decentralised energy is highly efficient and can be sized to suit the specific local load profile.

Utilyx, which is owned by FTSE 250 strategic outsourcer MITIE, offers a joined-up approach to energy solutions from strategy and management to on-site generation delivery.

Mark Stokes, managing director for Utilyx’s asset management business, said: “This report shows that on-site energy generation will play an increasingly important role in our future energy mix. Traditionally businesses and organisations have focused on one aspect of energy management – typically procurement or energy efficiency.

“The report reveals the need to look at the bigger picture and adopt a joined up approach including considering on-site energy generation. In a climate of volatile and rising energy prices, decentralised energy can help businesses save money, reduce carbon, and provide energy security.”

David Metcalfe, CEO, Verdantix, said: “UK corporates, councils, universities and hospitals are increasingly interested in the cost saving potential and carbon reduction benefits of on-site power generation.

“Chief executives and finance directors should assess the potential of these low-risk energy technologies to cut costs and improve the security of energy supply.”

Utilyx has a number of clients in both the public and private sector who are deploying on-site energy centres, including Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, London.

  • The research commissioned by Utilyx identified six actions for CFOs keen to explore the potential of decentralised energy for their business:
  • Review the firm’s existing energy bill and request a three to five year forecast of energy costs;
  • Identify feasible sites for decentralised energy;
  • Evaluate decentralised energy technologies for business applicability;
  • Understand the contribution of policies and incentives, and their sensitivities to the business case;
  • Request examples of similar success stories;
  • Move energy procurement up to the board-level agenda.