By Ben Whitelam, Commercial Director at npower Business Solutions

On 26 April 2023, the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) opened up its portal for Energy and Trade Intensive Industries (ETIIs) to apply for additional support under the Energy Bills Discount Scheme (EBDS), which is available from 1 April 2023 until 31 March 2024.

The ETII scheme means that qualifying businesses receive a higher level of government support with energy costs. It is open to eligible businesses where at least 50% of revenue is generated from UK-based activity within one of the government’s Standard Industry Classification (SIC) code sectors.

However, what many manufacturers may not be aware of is that there is a time limit on submitting their application. Eligible organisations only have 90 days from the scheme introduction date, which was 26 April 2023, to apply for the higher support, meaning that applications will close on 25 July 2023.

Therefore, many energy intensive businesses, including manufacturers, could be missing out on significant government support with their energy bills until 31 March 2024 if they don’t apply now.

So, what do you need to do next to maximise government support and reduce your energy costs?

Register on the EII portal

All manufacturers need to check their eligibility and register on the government portal as soon as possible. All the details on how to apply are on the government website.

You will also need to have all your relevant energy information to hand, including all energy supplier names and the gas or electricity meter point numbers (MPRN or MPAN) associated with your site which can be found on your energy invoices.

In addition, you will need to provide evidence to support your application, including a signed letter from a named director and potentially additional financial information, such as statements and invoices.

Review your energy management strategy

While accessing your full government support package is important, the EBDS is not very generous, and will end in March 2024. Therefore every UK business needs to ensure it is in control of its energy usage and contracts.

There are several ways to take control of your energy use:

Get to know your energy data

Understanding exactly where and how you are using energy is crucial to reducing both costs and carbon. Our recent Business Energy Tracker showed that use of smart energy management tools saw an increase compared to 2022, with 56% of businesses implementing this measure, compared to 48% last year

This is where metering can provide really useful data. For large or multiple sites, sub-metering enables you to monitor and target different areas individually, for example, machinery, refrigeration, lighting and temperature control. Sub-metering technology also provides access to your consumption data in real-time, rather than every half hour.

An energy monitoring and data visualisation platform can also make this data meaningful, so you can see, track and analyse your electricity and gas consumption.

In addition, our Net Zero Calculator – an easy-to-use, interactive tool – provides insight into where and how you currently use energy, what impact your sustainability projects are already having, and then the best measures for the future. This means you can plan an effective and sustainable energy strategy.

Maximise energy efficiency

The Business Energy Tracker showed that energy efficiency remains the top way to manage risk, with nearly two thirds (61%) of businesses saying they were implementing this measure, up from 58% last year. After all, the less energy you use, the less you will pay.

The capital that this ultimately saves in reduced energy costs can be used to finance investment in further energy-saving or low-carbon technologies.

Become more self-reliant and energy resilient

The results of this year’s Business Energy Tracker showed an increased willingness from businesses to invest in sustainable on-site generation, such as solar photovoltaic (PV), wind or combined heat and power (CHP). Last year, just over one in four (27%) businesses said this was in their plans – 2023 sees it rise to over a third (36%), with solar PV the most popular solution.

It’s easy to see why – as well as making your organisation less exposed to the fluctuations of the wholesale energy market, it also helps your business to reduce carbon emissions, lower energy costs and provide an increased stability of supply.

Understand your energy contracts

It is also important that you understand your contracts and end dates, particularly in the current climate.  For example, those on a fixed contract may want to consider the length of time they fix for, while flexible purchasers may need to re-evaluate their strategy to ensure it reflects the level of risk appetite and that electricity and gas budgets are realistic in the current climate.

Towards a more sustainable and secure future

Without doubt, the last two years have hit manufacturers hard. While measures such as the EBDS are welcome interventions, a focused and long-term approach from the government is needed to enable businesses to reduce energy demand and improve their energy efficiency. That said, there are additional steps businesses can take right now to help them to reduce energy costs and carbon emissions, as well as support the UK’s net zero goals.