Scottish building optimisation specialist teams up with Centrica and secures government funding to undertake three pilot projects across the UK
A leading developer of building optimisation technologies has secured a contract to undertake a series of pilot projects across the UK to explore how digital energy efficiency systems could help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) cut costs and save carbon emissions.
Scottish firm arbnco announced late last week that it has won a £641,000 contract through phase two of the government's Boosting Access for SMEs to Energy Efficiency (BASEE) competition.
The contract with the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will see arbnco develop a prototype of its Digital Energy Efficiency Platform (DEEP) to help SMEs improve their energy efficiency.
Phase two of the project will now see the prototype platform deployed at pilot sites in the central belt of Scotland, the West Midlands, and Bridgend, Wales.
Under the project arbnco is working with energy giant Centrica, as well as the Energy Systems Catapult, Aston Business School, Durham County Council, and sustainable finance company Cyan Finance.
DEEP aims to simplify energy efficiency processes for time and resource-stretched small businesses, by "automatically optimising a business' total energy consumption and the energy performance of its premise", the firm said.
The platform utilises a range of data sources such as energy consumption and building energy performance information, which is retrieved automatically or supplied by the SME, to then generate a bespoke list of physical and behavioural energy efficiency recommendations together with costs, trusted suppliers, and finance options.
Andrew Stewart, research and development manager at arbnco, said the platform had been specifically developed to support SME end users.
"The first phase of the project focussed on the technical feasibility of the platform as well as, understanding of the obstacles that SMEs face when it comes to energy efficiency," he said. "A review of potential business models was conducted by Energy Systems Catapult during the first phase. Bringing Centrica on board for phase two will provide greater insight and access to SMEs as we look to roll the platform out nationwide. By providing SMEs with critical insight into their energy use and tailored retrofit recommendations, based on an assessment of the energy performance of their building and patterns in their energy consumption, we can help thousands of businesses become more energy efficient."
The new partnership was welcomed by Liam Burlinson, head of business energy efficiency at Centrica-owned British Gas Business, who argued that efforts to curb energy use across the UK's millions of small businesses would be critical to meeting long term carbon targets.
"SMEs have a critical role to play as the UK strives to meet its net zero targets, but they often don't know where to start when it comes to improving energy efficiency," he said. "Centrica are committed to helping customers become more sustainable and we think arbnco's platform can help tackle some of the fundamental barriers that exist for SMEs today - such as lack of time, money or internal expertise to make targeted, cost effective changes."
The news was announced last last week, but phase two of the project commenced in February 2020 and is set to run for 14 months. The plan is to complete the pilot by April 2021 before rolling the platform out nationally, although, as with a raft of energy projects across the country, it remains to be seen how the coronavirus crisis impacts project timelines in the coming months.
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