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.




Friday 26 February 2021

After the hugely exciting landing of Perseverance on Mars I had some Twitter exchanges which questioned why we would spend ‘huge resources’ landing a rover on Mars. My response to this is that humans are explorers, exploration is baked into our DNA. If it wasn’t we would still be living in the trees. When standing on the moon in 1971, Dave Scott, the Commander of Apollo 15, the first of the science focused Apollo missions, said “man must explore and this is exploration at its greatest” and Perseverance is the latest in the journey.  As to the huge resources spent, the cost to develop the rover and get to Mars was about $2.4 billion over nine years, about $300 million a year and it will cost the same to keep it operational on Mars. Compared to many other things that is tiny and well worth it.  In 2019 Americans spent $96 billion on their pets. The entire 2021 NASA budget is $23.2 billion, and that covers everything, robotic exploration and human spaceflight. The entire world’s governmental space budget is c.$75 billion. For comparison, the Tokyo Olympics are set to cost $15 billion, Hinkley Point C is expected to cost more than £20 billion, and the UK’s ‘test and trace’ system appears to have cost a staggering, and really hard to justify, £22 billion in a year.


I know some people say we should not be spending money on space while we are combatting climate change and other environmental problems but I don’t see it that way. Exploring is a basic human need, it is in our spirit as well as our DNA. Space gives us new perspectives, the Apollo 8 photo of earth rising over the moon, and the Apollo 17 ‘blue marble’ photo have been highly influential in raising environmental consciousness. Although not as important as the positive effect it can have on our spirits, space also brings new science and technology – although ‘spin off’ alone is not a necessary reason to justify the expense. We just can’t stop exploring while we solve the big problems, just like we can’t stop making music or art, or having competitive sports – it is part of what makes us human.  Of course we need to spend more on solving the problems and moving towards net zero and a regenerative economy. We can and must do that, but we also need to keep doing the other things that make us human.


Perseverance was named in a school student competition that attracted more than 28,000 proposals. A seventh-grade student, Alexander Mather, from Virginia submitted the winning entry. In his winning essay he wrote:


Curiosity. InSight. Spirit. Opportunity. If you think about it, all of these names of past Mars rovers are qualities we possess as humans. We are always curious, and seek opportunity. We have the spirit and insight to explore the Moon, Mars, and beyond. But, if rovers are to be the qualities of us as a race, we missed the most important thing. Perseverance. We as humans evolved as creatures who could learn to adapt to any situation, no matter how harsh. We are a species of explorers, and we will meet many setbacks on the way to Mars. However, we can persevere. We, not as a nation but as humans, will not give up. The human race will always persevere into the future.


Wise words indeed.


Perseverance’s first full-colour view of Mars

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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