Meeting the demand: How Energy Consultants are transforming to serve clients better Muthuraj Marimuthu July 11, 2024

Meeting the demand: How Energy Consultants are transforming to serve clients better

The global Energy Consulting market is growing. In 2021, it was valued at USD 16,335.99 million (around £12.8 billion); at a CAGR of 3.77% over the coming years, it’s forecast to be worth USD 20,402.74 million by 2027 (around £16 billion).

Customers now expect more comprehensive services, reflecting the growing complexities of energy management, and reporting on energy and carbon emissions. At Optima Energy, we’re noticing these trends first-hand among our customers, 60% of whom are energy consultants.

In this article, we’ll explore how consultants are adapting to meet changing demands and some tips for streamlining the transition.

Industry Changes and New Customer Demands

Bill Validation

Energy invoice validation is a fundamental service that consultants provide. It involves verifying the accuracy of utility bills to ensure businesses are not overcharged – a critical process that helps companies detect potential billing errors (which could be recurring) and avoid paying unnecessary expenses.

Energy consulting firms use their expertise to analyse and validate invoices, ensuring that clients are only paying for the energy they have actually used.

Energy Audits

Energy audits are thorough evaluations of a company’s usage, aimed at identifying inefficiencies and opportunities to save money; it’s also a fundamental ingredient in staying compliant with regulations. Consultants can assist with audits and give actionable recommendations.

Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS)

As you know, the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) is a mandatory energy assessment scheme for large organisations in the UK. ‘Large undertakings’, as the government puts it, are those with:

  • 250 or more employees
  • An annual turnover in excess of £44 million
  • An annual balance sheet total in excess of £38 million

Public bodies are usually exempt from ESOS compliance, while some large, not for profit companies may not be.

Unlike SECR reporting (see below), ESOS requires business to audit and report on their energy use, as opposed to GHG emissions. Organisations must demonstrate compliance every four years.

ESOS Phase 3 Compliance

The current phase of the scheme (Phase 3) covers 6th December 2019 to 5th December 2023.  The Compliance Deadline for Phase 3 was originally 5th June 2024 but it’s been moved to 6th August 2024.

During Phase 3, a few new requirements were put in place. As well as submitting energy data, organisations will now have to calculate energy data intensity ratios for buildings, processes, and transport use. The purpose of this is to pinpoint areas of high usage in relation to KPIs.

Also, every company now has to create an ESOS action plan, detailing their plans to implement energy efficiency measures and when they intend to implement them. The plan must be signed off by a board level director and submitted by December 2024. Organisations will also have to submit annual progress updates.

Another significant change is that harsher enforcement measures and penalties have been introduced.

Energy consultants play a vital role in helping companies comply by conducting assessments, providing recommendations for improvement, and assisting with the necessary documentation. The same goes for reporting on emissions.

Emissions Data Reporting

Emissions reporting is mandatory for companies that meet conditions set by the Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) policy – and who knows if or when the net will be cast wider for any of these regulations?

For now, SECR reporting requirements apply to large Limited Liability Partnerships, companies listed on a public exchange (aka quoted companies), and large unquoted companies. LLPs and unquoted companies that meet at least two of the following criteria need to submit reports on emissions:

  • A turnover of £36 million or higher
  • A balance sheet of £18 million or higher
  • At least 250 employees

LLPs and unquoted companies are exempt if their energy use is lower than 40 MWh for the reporting period-in question; but still, they need to prove it, which is not an easy task.

Thankfully, consultants can assist companies in calculating their Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, as well as setting reduction targets and developing strategies to reach those targets.

Renewable Energy Solutions

The demand for and generation of renewables in the UK energy market is on the rise. The latest data from the UK government shows the following:

  • In 2023, renewables accounted for a record-breaking 47.3% of total generation (reaching 135 TWh), which was driven by offshore wind generation.
  • As well as the annual record above, a quarterly record of 51.5 % was achieved. This was the first time more than half of total generation was from renewables.
  • 6 GW of capacity was installed, bringing the total to 56.3 GW (up from 9.3 GW in 2010).
  • Half of that new capacity was solar power (1.3 GW) and the other half, wind (0.8 GW offshore and 0.5 GW onshore).

The records achieved were partly a result of reduced electricity demands and higher rates of imported electricity. If it weren’t for the increased capacity, however, this accomplishment may not have happened due to unfavourable weather conditions.

Consultants can guide clients in adopting renewable energy technologies, providing insights into the best renewables for specific business needs. They may also assist with the implementation process, and help secure funding.

EV and Solar Recommendations

The interest in electric vehicles (EVs) and solar energy solutions is growing rapidly. Around 376,800 EVs were sold in the UK in 2023. This was only a slight increase from 2022 but a significant difference compared to earlier years. The total forecast for 2028 is 573,100.

As we saw above, the capacity for solar power has increased; likewise, the number of solar panel installation companies grew by 7.3% from 2022 to 2023, the total number now at 2,295.

Again, energy consultants are instrumental in advising on the implementation of such solutions. They may provide businesses with feasibility studies, implementation plans, and advice on compliance with related regulations.

Challenges Faced by Energy Consultants

The increasing scope of services that clients require is creating new challenges for consultants. At the heart of it, meeting the diverse demands outlined above often leads to higher operational costs and the need for additional headcount. As such, balancing service provision with cost management is a significant challenge these days.

Thankfully, there are solutions available to help consultants continue meeting client needs without being overburdened.

Adaptation Strategies

Technology

The adoption of advanced technology is crucial for today’s energy consultants. Using a platform for energy management and invoice verification helps increase energy efficiency and saves time, freeing up the resources needed to offer a broader range of services in line with changing demands. It also provides comprehensive data for analysis purposes.

Continuous Learning and Certification

There are many accredited CPD courses available to help consultants stay updated with industry developments, deepen their knowledge on key areas, and provide the most current and effective recommendations to clients.

Client Education and Support

Educating clients about energy efficiency and changing regulations is a key aspect of the consultant’s role. Continuous support and regular updates helps them make well-informed decisions and adopt best practices so they can attain better outcomes over time.

Invoice Validation and Portfolio Management from Optima Energy

At Optima Energy, we provide solutions that help consultants streamline their operations and free up resources.

Energy Analytics and Invoice Validation

Optii is our platform for energy invoice validation and analytics. It automates the process of verifying utility bills, reducing the time and effort required for manual checks – and it can be scaled to monitor hundreds of thousands of meter points.

It ensures accuracy (conducting 70+ checks per month), minimises billing errors, and provides detailed reports. In turn, consultants can focus more on high level, strategic tasks.

Our customers either use it in-house to verify their invoices and gain insights, or hand it over to us thanks to our portfolio management services.

Energy Portfolio Management Services

As a consultant, you have better things to do than scrutinise invoices, yet this is an essential service that customers need. With our Bureau Services, customers hand over the heavy lifting to us, making it easier to:

  • Manage multiple client accounts efficiently
  • Control costs
  • Understand site-by-site energy consumption
  • And create a solid basis for reporting.

Our expert team can also take care of:

  • Tarriff management
  • Account management
  • HH/AMR data
  • Provisional and suspended invoices
  • Query management

Conclusion

The evolving nature of energy consulting presents new challenges all the time. As regulations change and new renewable technologies become more widely available, the scope of consulting also has to adapt.

Energy consultants can continue to provide effective services by streamlining certain aspects of their role – especially tedious tasks like bill validation. As mentioned, this is possible through our analytics platform, Optii, and our Bureau Services, in which our team of experts can manage energy portfolios on your behalf.

To find out more about how we can help you to help your customers, contact us today.

Discover how one of the UK's largest water companies

SAVED £££

by using Optima energy invoice validation services

WATER COMPANY CASE STUDY

DOWNLOAD NOW!

Send case study to:

Discover how one of the UK's largest water companies

SAVED £££

by using Optima energy invoice validation services

WATER COMPANY CASE STUDY

DOWNLOAD NOW!

Send case study to: