2020 Business Predictions: James Longley, Managing Director of Utility Bidder

It’s that time of year, when Business Link Magazine invites the region’s business leaders to offer up their predictions for the year ahead. It has become something of a tradition, given that we’ve been doing this now for over 30 years.

While none of us possess a crystal ball, it is uncanny how accurate some of these forecasts have been over the years.

Today, we speak to James Longley, Managing Director of Utility Bidder.

This year is set to be a landmark year for many reasons within the energy sector. The onset of Brexit in the United Kingdom, the start of a crawl towards sustainability targets and more savings needing to be made than ever before.

As we enter 2020, it seems tempting just to treat it like any other year. A majority of SMEs will cautiously set out goals and aims for the year and budgets will be set as usual. However, for those that are not aware, sustainability and energy efficiency should be the standout aims for the year.

You may not be aware, but targets have been set by the government of being carbon neutral by 2050. This may seem far into the future, after all, 30 years is a long time, but it is those that start to make the changes now that will reap the most benefits.

The two things I would argue businesses in the East Midlands could start easily with are:

Conducting an energy audit – This is a relatively simple step most companies can set up for themselves. Simply taking a detailed look and review of energy efficiency can make all the difference. It can identify where excesses are being spent, where improvements might be able to be quickly actioned and also gives you an idea of whether you are paying too much for your energy.

Setting up an energy efficiency team – On top of any changes businesses make to their energy policies or any advantages they can find from an audit, having a bought-in group within your business can help encourage culture change when it comes to energy. A monthly, informal meeting to discuss and set targets can really foster a sense of collective responsibility.

If you at least start here, who knows where your sustainability journey could take you this year?

It is sometimes baffling that businesses do not address issues like this earlier. In regard to the 2050 targets, many individual regions are bypassing this 30-year wait and are addressing their carbon footprint aims earlier. For example, the Greater Manchester region’s Mayor, Andy Burnham, has even announced that the region will be aiming for more than a decade earlier in 2038. This is mainly being achieved through encouragement of behaviour change amongst residents but will be a great tool to motivate SMEs and larger companies in the area to take action too.

The biggest hurdle we often have to overcome is apathy and mindset. Unless SMEs take this issue of carbon neutrality seriously, then the fight to make it happen is difficult before it even begins. Once major players get involved, it should be a relatively easy win, but until then we simply do not know.

Add to this the uncertainty on the energy industry as we approach Brexit and you have more than reason enough to sit up and take notice of what could be a very interesting year indeed.