Four out of five organisations compliant with the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) reported some form of energy efficiency improvement in the 18 months to mid-2016. In addition, 82% of compliant companies who owned or leased vehicles reported implementing fuel efficiency improvements within the same period. These were some of the findings in the ESOS evaluation report published last week, conducted by Ipsos Mori and University College London. The scheme was assessed via a number of means such as familiarisation interviews with stakeholders, qualitative interviews with ESOS obligated organisations, and quantitative telephone surveys. In-depth case studies of ten organisations also provided insights. The evidence suggested that, overall, ESOS primarily promoted energy efficiency agendas in companies that already place a priority on energy efficiency. Typically, these were large and multi-site organisations. In some cases, the ESOS audits confirmed the value of energy efficiency investments that had been previously considered, with external validation helping to bring them to fruition. For other companies, ESOS required them to put new data collection processes in place, which provided valuable information on which to base energy management.
Compliance costs were generally in line with the government’s original expectations. The exception to this was that lead assessor costs escalated close to the compliance deadline because a high number of companies did not start the ESOS process until close to the end of the phase. By the compliance deadline of 5th December 2015, the Environment Agency (EA) had received approximately 4,000 compliance notifications and 2,500 intent to comply late notifications. The EA is now encouraging companies that expect to qualify for ESOS in Phase 2 to start their energy audits now to avoid the problems associated with last-minute compliance. Qualification cannot be confirmed until financial accounts are published in 2018, but for large companies that know they will qualify, acting now has the benefit of ensuring a well-planned timetable. It will also provide timely advice on energy savings measures to help mitigate the effects of rising energy costs.