Friday 10 September 2021

It feels important to mark the 20th anniversary of the tragedy of 9/11. As they are for many other people I imagine, my memories of that day are still vivid, and it is easy to answer the ‘where were you when it happened?’ question.  I couldn’t claim any personal connections to the event, fortunately, but I do remember it had a serious impact on me and it took about two years to process it properly. I felt an attachment to the World Trade Center and remember in the 1970s the publicity around its construction, and my excitement when I visited it for the first time in 1978, as well as being just as excited on subsequent visits to the observation deck in 1983 one crystal clear evening just as it got dark, and in 2001.


On the day itself I was in the Guinness Park Royal brewery at a start-up meeting of the Enron-Diageo Utility Alliance Agreement, an innovative 15 year utility outsourcing deal that had taken about a year to develop and implement.  Apart from the main order of business we discussed the celebration dinner planned for that evening. After the meeting I switched my phone back on to get a message from my wife who when I called her back, told me a plane had flown into the WTC. I assumed it was a light aircraft, mentioned it to the teams that were in the meeting and then left. Of course we didn’t have the access to instant news we have today on our phones. Strangely there was a TV in the meeting room but we didn’t think of switching it on.  The potential scale of the event only hit me when I got in the car to go back to Enron House. The driver had the radio on and we listened to the commentary, trying to work it out. The real impact hit me when I walked into the massive trading floor style office and there was a deathly silence and images of the towers’ destruction were playing on the big TV screens.  Many of the Enron staff were Americans and many had relatives and friends in New York.  Some were crying.


There was uncertainty about what to do and whether everyone should go home. Enron House overlooked the garden of Buckingham Palace and there were fears that London may also be targeted. We cancelled the celebration dinner with Guinness of course. After a few hours everyone was sent home and I remember listening to the news service on my phone and relaying information to fellow train passengers.  Once home I tried to call my American friends, who were nowhere near New York, but couldn’t get through.


Even now it is hard to contemplate the scale and impact of that day. For good and bad it has shaped the world we live in and in many ways we live with the consequences everyday. But on the 20th anniversary we should all take some time to remember the 2,977 people who were killed at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, as well as the many more that were injured, those who suffered (and still suffer) long-term health problems, the rescuers, as well as all their families and the survivors who are still affected by it.


Friday 13 August 2021

The sheer volume of coverage of the IPCC’s AR6 report this week can be overwhelming. Like many people I asked what does it actually mean and what can I do about it?  I found these two summaries, from Carbon Brief, and Zeke Hausfather,  the most helpful of all of the analysis.


My key take aways?


It is “virtually certain that global surface temperature rise and associated changes can be limited through rapid and substantial reduction in global GHG emissions”.


“There is still a choice about how much warming there will be this century”.


That choice is ours. Leaders, business owners and colleagues, in every organisation, need to take responsibility and put their plans and reporting in place without delay, so we can reduce emissions as fast and effectively, as humanly possible.  We have the technologies and with the falling costs of solar PV and batteries, combinations of energy efficiency and renewables are now the lowest cost way of providing electricity – making replacing legacy energy infrastructure financially viable. Institutional capital is available and eager to find more sustainable investments.   The challenge is to take the knowledge we have and turn long-term intentions into investment plans that can be actioned now.


The ep group works with organisations to enable them to deliver net zero and regenerative infrastructure.  Get in touch today and start the conversation.


IPCC WG1 AR6 SPM Report Cover: Changing by Alisa Singer. Credit: Alisa Singer/IPCC.

Tuesday 27 July 2021

There are several barriers that prevent organisations implementing effective decarbonisation programmes.  One of these is the perception that investing in projects that move the organisation towards net zero is expensive and not profitable.  This ignores the new realities that have been brought about by the rapidly falling costs of solar PV and batteries, as well as the falling costs of other energy efficiency technologies such as LED lighting and AI control systems.


What these trends mean is that it is now possible to decarbonise in a profitable way. Profitability is further enhanced when counting the many multiple benefits that energy efficiency and renewable projects can bring, ranging from energy price stability to improved health and welfare to increased asset value to name but three.  When these multiple benefits are identified and properly assessed, using the MBenefits approach pioneered by Catherine Cooremans and used by ep group, the financial benefits of projects are often multiplied by many times.


All of the benefits of any decarbonisation programme, or individual project, need to be identified, weighed against the strategic objectives of the organisation, and properly valued. When this is done, decarbonisation can be profitable.


If you need assistance in identifying, developing or building the business case for decarbonisation projects please contact us at ep group.



Wednesday 9 June 2021

The IPO of Aquila Energy Efficiency Trust plc, which raised £100m last week, marks the third energy efficiency fund listed on the London Stock Exchange; the others being SDCL Energy Efficiency Income Trust and the Triple Point Energy Efficiency Infrastructure Company.


The arrival of Aquila’s fund is another sign that energy efficiency is becoming a recognised asset class amongst institutional investors, something that has to happen if we are to scale up investment to the levels we need to achieve climate goals. It is also a sign of the changing nature of the definition of energy efficiency.  The portfolios of these funds shows some ‘real energy efficiency’ i.e. end-user demand reduction, notably LED lighting portfolios, but they also include distributed or embedded generation assets, both solar and CHP.  This is not a criticism. The shift towards a decarbonised, decentralised and digitised energy system means an increased focus on the demand side of energy, rather than just on the supply side and the meaning of the term ‘energy efficiency’ is shifting to incorporate all demand side assets, rather than just referring to energy saving projects. The term is being used to cover the whole range of technologies and business models including: demand response, distributed generation, behind-the-meter energy storage, virtual power plants, micro-grids, building-to-grid, industry-to-grid, vehicle-to-grid, as well as local generation and utilisation of heat in efficient and flexible systems.


The emergence of these listed funds, which sit alongside a growing number of private and private-public funds around the world reflect the shift of investment occurring in the energy transition, from highly centralised infrastructure to highly decentralised infrastructure, and passive consumers becoming prosumers.


The amount of capital being allocated to energy efficiency is increasing. We need the capital to be there, but the capital needs good projects to invest in and as I have talked about and written about many times, the real shortage is not capital but rather a lack of well developed bankable projects. We need to build capacity in project development skills in both clients and the supply chain.


One of EnergyPro’s innovations, ESCO-in-a-box® is doing that here in the UK and now in Kenya and we are now working on taking it to new markets, working alongside dedicated funds. If you want to find out more about how ESCO-in-a-box® can help you develop and implement energy efficiency projects of all types get in touch.


Monday 29 March 2021

Last year we decided to use the Covid crisis to fundamentally change our businesses, effectively to ‘build back better’. This led to a process of considering our collective ambition as a team, how we maximise our positive impact, how we are organised, and how we communicate. With the launch of our new website, our new brand, and our impact report you can now see the results of some of that work.


Accelerating the shift to a net zero carbon world is a critical challenge facing all of us in order to combat the urgent threat of climate change, but we also need to move beyond ‘sustainability’ towards a regenerative economy that addresses climate change and the many wider environmental problems, as well as the social problems of inequality in opportunity and wealth.  Doing so will create massive business opportunities and produce a better environment, a better economy and a better society.


To accelerate the shift we need to maximise both the quantity and quality of investment going into companies, projects and programmes that move society towards a net zero, regenerative and more equitable economy. This requires:

  • building capacity amongst decision makers across business, finance, the public sector, governments and multi-lateral institutions
  • shifting investment flows towards high-performance projects, programmes and companies that support the transition.

Our work across the ep group is in three areas that contribute directly to these needs:

  • we build capacity by research, consultancy, training and advocacy
  • we bring investment by originating opportunities, accessing capital, undertaking due diligence, and developing new business models
  • we develop and deliver high performance projects.

The way we do those things is reflected in our new brand, the equals sign captures our commitment to finding equitable solutions that work for all stakeholders. More equitable collaboration is needed to solve the big problems we face.


Our organisational structure is also changing. As well as bringing our companies together into a formal group we are committed to transitioning to a steward-ownership structure that reflects two important principles: self-governance, and profits serve purpose. We believe that steward-ownership better supports the shift towards a net zero and regenerative economy. Our aim is to create a structure that combines entrepreneurial skills, steward-ownership, and patient capital to create and build successful impact driven businesses.


We are best known for our work in energy efficiency but the ep group has expanded our work into other key areas of sustainability and the regenerative economy, particularly resource efficiency, the built environment, the circular economy, and sustainable finance. Our latest offering, through ep projects, includes architecture and design, planning, and development services and we are already working on a number of exciting regenerative property developments.  As ep group, we are pioneering a new, more equitable ownership and funding model and we will be sharing our progress on that with you as it evolves.


If you are committed to accelerating the shift to a net zero, sustainable and regenerative economy but need help building capacity, bringing investment, or developing projects, please contact us. We would like to help enable you to turn that commitment into impact.




Dr Steven Fawkes

Welcome to my blog on energy efficiency and energy efficiency financing. The first question people ask is why my blog is called 'only eleven percent' - the answer is here. I look forward to engaging with you!

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