Small and medium sized businesses in Ireland agree they could do more to embrace green energy efficiency but most simply do not have the time or money to do so, a new survey has found. Energy and fuel costs are also considered of less importance than other issues, including Brexit, securing credit, a lack of customers and cash flow.
Research conducted by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) on business interaction with alternative energy investment found that, while most believe they have a role to play in the fight against climate change, only about one in five believe they have done all they can. This is a problem in changing consumption patterns – the SME sector accounts for half of all energy use by the commercial sector.
The results of the survey were released to mark the opening of the SEAI Energy Show 2019 in Dublin. “Sectors are going to have to transform themselves if they are to thrive in a decarbonised society,” Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton said. “ Early adopters will seize the enterprise opportunities in a low carbon economy, including the new circular and bio economies,” he said. “We have seen some pioneers commit to 50 per cent emissions savings. We need more sectors to take up the challenge, developing clusters promoting best practice in their sector,” he said.
The survey of 321 companies found that 14-17 per cent are simply “not interested in energy efficiency or have not investigated energy efficiency options at all”. The majority of organisations believe they have a role in tackling climate change but only 11-22 per cent (depending on the size of the company surveyed) believe they have put all possible measures in place to address it.
“For organisations that feel more can be done to improve their organisation’s energy efficiency, a majority lack time and funding to carry out upgrades,” the survey findings said.
As regards priority issues facing SMEs, energy and fuel costs came in at just 3 per cent. That figure compares with 10 per cent for Brexit, 8 per cent for getting paid by clients, 6 per cent for securing credit, 5 per cent each for competition and a lack of customers, and 4 per cent for cash flow. However, there is a silver lining, with almost 40 per cent saying they intend to take action. The SEAI is attempting to encourage progress, not least through this week’s event.
The SEAI survey suggests that businesses here believe they can still do a lot more to help tackle climate change with just one in five firms believing they had done all that they could.