SMEs lack funds or knowledge to conserve energy, says international study
Small and medium sized Irish businesses are aware they need to change their energy habits but do not have the funding or the expertise to do so, according to European research contributed to by Limerick Institute of Technology.
A report into the SPEEDIER (SME Program for Energy Efficiency through Delivery and Implementation of Energy Audits) programme has found that three-quarters of Irish SMEs have not had an energy audit in the last five years.
More than half (55%) of Irish SMEs stated that they do not have dedicated funds available to invest in energy efficiency improvements to their business, with over a third of respondents saying that a ‘lack of knowledge’ is their main barrier to implementing energy conversion measures.
Almost half of Irish respondents admitted that they didn’t know which energy conservation measures they should implement, with 35% citing a lack of time to implement them.
“The results of this survey, certainly from an Irish perspective, shows that SME’s need a service that can assist and guide them towards changing their energy habits for the better,” said head of development & public engagement at LIT Seamus Hoyne. “While more than half of Irish SMEs surveyed have told us that they don’t have dedicated funds for energy efficiency, it’s only a fifth that have said they can’t afford it full stop – meaning businesses now need to budget for their energy habits. Having said that, even with a budget, SMEs need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to be able to conserve their energy. Outsourcing energy management may well be the solution to these, with 60% of Irish SME’s surveyed happy to do so.”
Other stakeholders outside of SMEs noted a lack of local or national government support in delivering energy audits or other energy efficiency support services.
The majority of respondents to the survey in Ireland came from the manufacturing sector (55%), and services industry (25%). More than four-fifths (85%) of Irish SME’s surveyed by LIT cited lighting and heating as their main sources of energy use.
LIT and its European partners will continue work on the SPEEDIER project, which has an overall budget of over €2 million, until December 2021.
The next phase of the project will now focus on delivering training packages to SMEs in Ireland and across Europe to implement energy conservation measures.