Pandemic prevents UK businesses to justify green investments

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Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the UK and global economies, businesses in the UK are finding it hard to defend their plans to invest in new green infrastructure projects, according to a new study released by Centrica Business Solutions.

Six in ten UK businesses surveyed say it is more difficult to make the case for spending on energy-efficient and low carbon technologies due to the pandemic.

Approximately half (49%) have found it difficult to make the case for investment even if it creates savings in the long term, the Why wait to pursue net zero? study has revealed. For these companies, the pandemic has made it difficult to think long term and as such the firms are preferring to go for short term profits in order to survive.

Despite the impact of the pandemic on operations and sustainability plans, two in five businesses say the operation of a sustainable business model remains their top priority. Leveraging energy management systems to control operational and energy cost, 42% say they will achieve a strong financial performance and profitability as they recover from the pandemic.

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Businesses prioritising sustainability and long-term profits will rise above of those focusing on short-term gains at the expense of environmental sustainability, according to Centrica Business Solutions as 79% of leaders say they prioritise long-term gains over quick returns and low-risk strategies.

Leading companies in terms of sustainability say they are leveraging energy procurement and energy management strategies to be more competitive and are nearly twice as likely to access green finance than followers.

The majority of businesses that have invested in green infrastructure projects have directed their funding towards the rollout of battery storage units (48%), solar panels (35%) and demand side response measures (14%).

Greg McKenna, managing director at Centrica Business Solutions, said: “The evidence shows that a progressive approach to energy can bolster businesses’ balance sheets and support recovery from the impact of COVID-19. Indeed, this polling shows the commercial opportunity a more advanced approach to energy strategy presents. Firms that have already invested in innovative energy technology have been able to cut costs as well as carbon emissions – and unlock new revenue streams.

“In the year of Britain hosting the COP26 climate talks, it’s vital that organisations such as ours provide peace of mind to those businesses struggling to commit to a low carbon future that improving their energy security can also provide cost certainty. There are many established financing tools that can support the transition to a sustainable future without the need for significant upfront capital.”

Read the full report