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Software can tell companies which green energy to invest in

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 11 Jan 2022

Following the incredible hike in wholesale energy prices, “the economic benefits of generating on-site renewable energy have never been greater”, says chartered accountant Christopher Trigg.

Christopher Trigg is Managing Director of OnGen, a UK-based software company that analyses property-specific data through digital tools to make decisions on energy efficiency measures, generating your own energy as a company, or switching to greener tariffs.

Trigg is also a member of the ICAEW 1,000 Chartered Accountants initiative, which celebrates ICAEW members who have led their organisation or clients into the United Nations’ Race to Zero – in this case, it’s joining the dots for companies to decarbonise the economy. 

OnGen operates from a point of view that is completely agnostic. “We’re not selling a technology solution, we’re not an installer, and we’ve got no motivation to sell you the biggest heat pump or solar panel array,” says Trigg. 

“What we do through the OnGen software solutions is take site-specific data, understanding energy consumption patterns, and then augment that with a whole range of geophysical datasets, such as solar irradiance data, wind speed, temperature and geological data. And by doing that, what OnGen is delivering essentially is the optimum business case for one or more renewable technologies.” 

Use on-site renewables to sidestep the energy crisis  

Trigg believes that right now the economic benefits of generating on-site have never been greater, and the main reason for that is the ‘incredible hike’ in wholesale energy prices. 

According to Cornwall Insight, the main energy price cap is expected to soar up to £1,660 a year from April 2022 for a household with average consumption that buys both electricity and gas.

Trigg adds: “I think we've got about four million domestic energy consumers who were on the cheapest tariffs in the market – me being one of them – who unfortunately are now on some of the most expensive energy tariffs in the market.

“My electricity tariff has doubled. It’s a slightly different mechanism for domestic versus non-domestic, but the same market pressures are feeding through into non-domestic energy consumers as well, where there is no price cap, because the wholesale cost of gas and electricity has tripled, quadrupled, since last year.” 

“It’s a heck of a lot cheaper” 

Why should an organisation even think about renewable technologies? “The reason we think we should be doing this more is because – with my accountant’s hat on – it makes very sensible commercial business sense,” he says.

“It’s an awful lot cheaper to generate your own electricity and heat from the sources around you. For example: solar PV, solar irradiance, wind speed, the air through air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps. If you can generate the energy that you require, at the place it has been consumed, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than buying it through the grid.” 

The equally important reason for doing this is reducing the business’s carbon footprint dramatically. This will vary depending on what kind of industry the business is in. Switching to renewables would play a huge part in an energy-intensive industry such as manufacturing. But companies all have their part to play, irrelevant of which carbon emissions scope they come under. 

Scope 1 is where a business is generating greenhouse gases because of their operations, for example, a steel manufacturer producing first-hand carbon emissions. Scope 2 is where the carbon is associated with the energy that a business is using in their operations. And then Scope 3 is the carbon emissions associated with a business’s supply chain. 

“We can help an organisation tackle those three different scopes by essentially reducing their carbon or the greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy consumption – we can get them right down,” says Trigg.

“In effect, this method can play a huge part in reaching that overall sustainability net-zero goal.” 

Here is a link to the OnGen website.

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