Plant & Works Engineering
ESOS – What does the future hold?
Published:  18 November, 2016

Following a late rush of UK companies seeking to comply with the requirements of the Energy Saving Opportunities Scheme (ESOS) earlier this year, it is estimated that around two-thirds of approximately 10,000 eligible organisations are now registered. However, meeting the registration deadline should be seen only as the beginning, not as the end of the process. Dirk Ville (pictured), general manager, Atlas Copco Compressors UK and Ireland, reports.

As the name implies, Energy Saving Opportunities Scheme (ESOS) is more than just another regulatory obligation, it is an opportunity to make real and lasting changes that will support long-term efficiency and environmental best-practice.

Undertaking an ESOS audit has the potential to uncover major energy efficiency improvements for most power-critical businesses. The future promises industry the possibility of average energy reductions in the region of 20% for those who comply, and substantial penalties for those who don’t.

Considering the way in which energy efficiency continually features so highly among the priorities of manufacturing and industrial operators, the ESOS framework should be embraced as a platform for change.

There are proven real-life benefits to be realised. As previously stated, typically 20% of a business' annual energy costs are wasted through the use of energy- inefficient equipment. That potential loss applies in equal measure to the production of compressed air, which accounts on average for 12% of industrial electrical power consumption and up to 30% in exceptional applications.

The prime culprit of energy wastage in compressed air systems is leakage. Previous case histories reveal sums of up to five figures being added to users’ annual electricity bills through unnecessary wastage. But help is at hand. A professional compressed air energy audit can take as little as 10 minutes to determine the cause and facilitate the remedy.

A study of completed ESOS assessments was recently carried out by the Carbon Trust, whose findings revealed that a participating company’s average annual energy budget was in the region of £1.8 million. Achieving a 20% reduction in energy costs, by applying cost-efficient measures, would therefore mean a saving of £300,000. If related proportionally to the running costs of a substantial compressed air installation, that could mean over £40,000 saved.

So why are companies not addressing this vital issue? The Environment Agency has offered a valuable insight into organisations’ approach to energy management. It reports that just 13% of compliant businesses have established an energy reduction target or benchmark. Even more surprising, only a further 11% are prepared to adopt appropriate measures following an ESOS assessment

The conclusion is that the benefits of ESOS can only be fully realised if companies adopt an energy-conscious ethos at every level of their organisation. That means every aspect, ranging from behavioural changes to applying simple, common sense measures and conducting equipment efficiency reviews and installing replacements. In that regard, industry leader Atlas Copco, already committed to a goal of increasing its customers’ energy efficiency by 20% by 2020, has addressed the issue with a wide range of innovative energy-efficient compressed air and vacuum solutions.

However, gaining visibility of energy usage remains a challenge for many in the manufacturing sector. It is crucial to base decisions on accurate data, and Atlas Copco supports that with advanced optimisation programmes and remote data monitoring systems such as its SmartLink technology, which enables continuous monitoring and analysis of the energy efficiency of a compressed air installation.

At present, ESOS is only aimed at companies with 250 or more employees, or an annual turnover in excess of £50 million. However, once the current ESOS scheme has been completed in 2019 there is every possibility it could be rolled out to smaller companies. They may have little or no previous experience in energy management, but have ample scope to significantly cut expenditure and improve their energy efficiency: and their bottom line. With inevitable future increases in energy costs, the prospect of ESOS auditing compels them to gain a deeper understanding of their energy use and implement essential changes based on assessment findings.

Pic caption: Dirk Ville


1. ESOS: Why it doesn’t pay to wait:

2. 3000 businesses non-compliant with ESOS: are you?:

3. ESOS: Opportunity knocks: