Demand response specialist Flexitricity has transformed the way Gateshead Council maximises value from its award-winning district energy scheme

Here we discuss how the partnership has given Gateshead the power to maximise revenue, deliver benefits to the local community whilst reducing its environmental impact and balancing the UK electricity network.

Flexitricity’s partnership with Gateshead Energy Company was the introduction of the first behind-the-meter generation asset into the Balancing Mechanism.

The award-winning Gateshead District Energy Scheme is a low-carbon energy centre owned by Gateshead Council, and operated by Gateshead Energy Company, which provides low-cost heat and power to homes, organisations and businesses in the urban core of Gateshead.

In 2017, Gateshead Energy Company started working with Flexitricity to ensure business objectives were being met in the most energy efficient way possible.

As a publicly owned company, one of the most important objectives is to deliver schemes that provide benefits to the consumers within the local community whether that’s cost, carbon or environmental.

Gateshead District Energy Scheme incorporates elements that go beyond the traditional heat network, including a private wire network to supply high voltage electricity to customers, on-site heat storage and electricity storage via a large battery. It is the full integration of heat and power generation, and heat and power storage which sets the scheme apart from others.

Flexitricity’s role is to identify flexibility within the scheme’s site and make that flexibility available to National Grid at the right time and the right price, maximising revenue for the site.

The demand response pioneer operates a 24/7 control room from its Edinburgh headquarters, which is connected to Gateshead’s combined heat and power (CHP) engines via a remote outstation allowing Flexitricity to automatically stop and start the engines when it receives a signal from National Grid.

When public bodies like Gateshead Council can unlock revenue streams from working with Flexitricity, more energy schemes are able to become commercially viable in the future which is both good for business and good for the wider community.

Demand side response not only allows businesses and the public sector to avoid higher energy prices during times of peak demand, it also creates revenue for those organisations when they support the grid. The additional revenue can be invested back into the organisation or community to support growth and transform outcomes for users and customers.

Jim Gillon, Energy Services Manager at Gateshead Council, said that working with Flexitricity has brought benefits for both the local authority and the wider community.

He added: “The main challenges in the industry are around price volatility so we need ways to make our business plan more resilient and that’s where grid services come in, extra income streams diversifies the way we can generate revenue and that makes our business case much more stable.

“For us as a publicly owned energy company the process of working with Flexitricity has been seamless, every step of the way we’ve been supported. Their professionalism and reliability have been second to none.

“Price challenges within the energy market is an ongoing problem. Working with Flexitricity has helped make our business plan stronger and by accessing extra income streams we have been able to diversify how we generate revenue and improve our business operations.

“If we can unlock additional revenue streams it makes more schemes viable and allows us to take more schemes through to construction and development which is good for us, it’s good for the community and it helps us pass on the benefits whether they are cost or carbon reduction to the wider community.”

Schools offered free EV chargepoint for clean air campaign

Manufacturer Pod Point has relaunched its Electric Schools campaign for the new academic year, offering selected primary schools a free electric vehicle (EV) chargepoint to highlight the link between EVs and clean air.

Pod Point’s Electric Schools campaign, which launched last autumn, aims to raise awareness of the many benefits of transitioning to EVs, not least in terms of how they can help fight air pollution – which has been described as a public health crisis – and climate change. The campaign also strives to inspire young learners on how EV technology will revolutionise the way we travel and use energy, by paving the way for driverless cars and energy management systems like vehicle to grid.

For the campaign, up to 30 primary schools in highly polluted areas are being given the opportunity to claim a free 7kW Pod Point EV chargepoint and installation, worth over £1,200. As part of the wider campaign, Pod Point’s in-house experts will visit schools nationwide to introduce the technology and deliver guest speaker sessions on EVs.

Under the Electric Schools campaign, chargepoints have so far been installed at primary schools in Leeds, London, Essex, and West Sussex.

All primary schools that want to introduce the topic of EVs can benefit from an educational toolkit that Pod Point has created as part of its Electric Schools campaign. The toolkit, which has been developed in line with Key Stage 2 curriculum guidelines, is packed with activities and resources for teachers and children, along with a factsheet for any parents that want to learn more about EVs.

Erik Fairbairn, Pod Point CEO and Founder, said: “It feels like young learners are more engaged than ever with the environment and issues like air pollution and climate change. With this campaign we’re highlighting how EVs can be part of the solution. We also want to make young people excited about the future of mobility and what road transport might look by the time they have finished studying.”

Visit or email to find out more. Schools that don’t qualify for the free chargepoint (including secondary schools) can still benefit from a £100 discount by using the code “ELECTRICSCHOOLS” in the website enquiry form.

Picture shows Mathew Andrews, Deputy Headteacher at Three Bridges Primary School.

Efficiency starts with the design

Space and whole life costs are two of the major considerations when selecting commercial condensing boilers. Ryan Kirkwood, Specification Manager for Remeha, evaluates the design options that will make best use of plant room space and optimise boiler lifetime performance

The UK has been set a new, more ambitious target to reduce greenhouse gas emission levels to net zero by 2050. If we are to come anywhere near this goal, we must address the energy efficiency of our existing buildings and their heating systems.

Boilers are at the heart of the heating systems in many commercial buildings, so it’s essential that they operate efficiently. Of course, each building will have its own unique requirements. But many facilities and energy managers are turning to modular boiler designs to meet the tighter environmental requirements, particularly in buildings with fluctuating heat demand.

Forward-thinking manufacturers offer an extensive range of reliable, energy-efficient solutions that enable accurate matching of the actual heat requirement to optimise overall system efficiencies. And if we design for easier future servicing, the lifetime of the boiler will increase still further.

But arguably the two most common design hurdles are space and capital costs. So let’s consider how we can design better with careful boiler selection.

Good boiler selection

As space within plant rooms remains at a premium, the size and design of the boiler will be key, making achieving a high output in a compact footprint a frequent challenge.

Restricted plant room access? The logistics of physically getting the plant into the building – and safely removed at the end of its lifecycle – is another aspect that will need to be addressed.

Fortunately, the arrival of smaller, more lightweight condensing boiler models means that they can be manoeuvred safely into position. Additional features like the inclusion of integral wheels or the ability to disassemble high output boiler into parts again smooths access constraints and associated costs.

But maintenance areas, access space and walkways also need to be calculated when determining boiler selection. With that in mind, let’s evaluate the options.

Design options

Modular boiler arrangements can normally be separated into two categories: stacking and floor standing.

Stacking units are designed to be positioned vertically. Typically, a stack of around six to nine modules, usually combined using a vertical header at the rear, will achieve the required output.

A key advantage of vertical stacking style arrangements is their ability to offer a larger heat output in a smaller physical footprint. However, as these arrangements require access on all sides of the plant and pipework arrangement, this generally results in the units being ‘islanded’ in the plant room. The vertical headers will also need careful attention to ensure that the boiler pumps, system pumps and overall hydronics are set up to perform as intended.

Compact design

Floor standing modular configurations occupy a similar footprint in terms of plant, but access is usually only required at the front. As a result, they can achieve an equally, if not more, compact configuration overall.

When it comes to servicing and maintenance, a multiple floor standing boiler design offers several compelling advantages. Fewer modules will typically be required to match the heat load, so maintenance and servicing costs will be correspondingly lower across the lifecycle of the boilers. And while interconnecting pipework tends to be placed above the units, at a similar height to a vertical-stacking arrangement, the modules are all at the same height, so maintenance can be carried out safely at a lower level.

Boiler longevity

Regardless of the design, with all modern condensing boilers, quality construction and longevity are critical. The heat exchanger is central to this, as many floor standing boiler arrangements and most vertical stacking systems use aluminium heat exchangers to keep weight down and efficiency up.

Look for boilers with monobloc heat exchangers as they will allow constant thermal expansion across the whole heat exchanger, reducing the need for large joins and improving performance, reliability and lifespan.

Understanding how the connecting pipe kit holds up to the overall job specification, with quality parts, pumps and valves, is also advisable. How flexible and how readily available are the products and accessories? And how easy are the boilers to control?

Efficiency starts with the boilers

When it comes to heating, efficiency arguably starts with the boilers. Modular boiler designs can provide a time saving, energy-efficient solution to meeting heating requirements in restricted plant rooms.

But it’s essential to think carefully about how the plant space is allocated and to ensure good boiler selection. Reliable performance, future ease of maintenance and part replacement are all factors that should be considered from the outset.

And with manufacturers like Remeha helping energy and facilities managers to evaluate the various options, we can achieve the best, most energy-efficient commercial heating solution every time., E:, T: 0118 978 3434

Shell teams with PassivSystems to launch the B-Snug smart hybrid home heating system


Shell UK and PassivSystems are pleased to announce the launch of B-Snug, a smart hybrid heating system for British homeowners. 

The B-Snug system uses advanced technology to manage a combination of an air source heat pump and a traditional boiler. The intelligent controls continuously monitor the temperature in the home and analyse weather forecasts to automatically switch between two heat sources: a newly fitted Samsung Air Source Heat Pump and the customer’s existing boiler. The system’s controls use machine learning to select the most appropriate heat source to deliver warmth and comfort, favouring use of the heat pump whenever possible. With the majority of heat for the home being provided by the air source heat pump, the system reduces heating bills. And, by providing homeowners with a way to use electricity to heat their homes, this initiative enables consumers to reduce their use of oil or LPG thereby helping Great Britain to reduce carbon emissions from domestic properties.

B-Snug’s smart hybrid approach offers a viable solution particularly for larger and hard-to-insulate homes where fitting an all-electric heat pump in isolation may be too expensive. It is currently aimed at homes that use oil or LPG for heating.

B-Snug uses PassivSystems’ technology platform and will be delivered as one of its Advanced Smart Control Services. 

“The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has given a clear message that we need to decarbonise homes to achieve the government’s net-zero emissions target by 2050,” said Colin Calder, Chief Executive Officer at PassivSystems. “The B-Snug smart hybrid heating system offers an affordable, cost effective and easy-to-install option, moving households towards a more sustainable, low-carbon energy source without having to make any changes to their existing heating system. PassivSystems is delighted to be a key supplier and technology provider in this new product launch, which directly contributes to meeting the CCC’s goal of deploying 10 million hybrids by 2035.”

“In PassivSystems, we found a great partner to launch B-Snug – our first smart hybrid heating system,” says Brian Davis, Vice President Energy Solutions at Shell. “By leveraging Passiv’s technology and experience we can now offer a more cost effective and cleaner heating solution to our customers.”

Bristol Airport switches to 100 percent renewable electricity

In a significant step towards reducing its carbon footprint, Bristol Airport has switched to a 100 per cent renewable electricity supply. The announcement follows the recent publication of a carbon roadmap setting out how the Airport will become carbon neutral by 2025 for emissions within its direct control.

The new three-year agreement with global renewable energy supplier, Ørsted, will see the Airport’s annual electricity use of 17 million kWh powered entirely by renewable sources. Electricity is the largest contributor to carbon emissions from on-site airport operations. In addition to the electricity used in the terminal and other buildings, a growing number of aircraft stands are equipped with Fixed Electrical Ground Power (FEGP), reducing the need to use diesel powered engines for essential pre-flight services. Over the duration of the contract an estimated 14,000 tonnes of carbon will be saved across the Airport site as a result of the move to renewables – equivalent to the emissions from driving 34 million miles in an average car.

Simon Earles, Planning and Sustainability Director at Bristol Airport, said:“From next month our terminal and other facilities will be powered by renewable energy – a significant step on our journey to carbon neutrality. There is more to do, but this is a clear statement of our intent to reduce our direct emissions.”

Ashley Phillips, Managing Director at Ørsted Sales (UK) Ltd said: “It’s exciting that an international airport like Bristol is placing such strong emphasis on sustainability. At Ørsted, we want to drive the transition to low-carbon energy systems in the UK, and support organisations like Bristol Airport that share this ambition of creating a greener energy future.”

As well as addressing direct emissions, Bristol Airport’s carbon roadmap includes a commitment to offset road journeys by passengers and explains how flights will tackled through the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) – an international agreement aimed at stabilising emissions at 2020 levels.

Road To Zero

To date, a high proportion of public chargepoints have been installed through UK and devolved government-funded grant schemes, and local authority match-funding. As the electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure market has matured, so has the variety of procurement models and funding options available to public sector bodies. Private sector partnerships and revenue share arrangements are becoming increasingly common and a good choice for some local authorities, depending on the circumstances.

In the Road to Zero strategy, published in July 2018, the Government stated its ambition “to encourage and leverage private sector investment to build and operate a thriving, self-sustaining public network”. With the right policy framework and more EVs on the road, the Government expects the market to deliver the public infrastructure needed in the long-term.

Moving forward, procurement decisions by local authorities will therefore vary depending on the availability of government or private sector funding, where market failures emerge, the potential profitability of the charging network, and the level of risk that the local authority wishes to carry.

Energy Saving Trust’s guide, Procuring electric vehicle charging infrastructure as a local authority, describes the wide range of options open to local authorities to fund and manage public chargepoints, illustrated by case studies.

Topics covered within include investing public funding, securing private investment, options around providing free chargepoints and working on private land, and more. All information is unbiased and transparent, provided through extensive research and first-hand experience in the industry. Six case studies document a range of approaches local authorities have taken to procure chargepoints in the UK.

Two other guides complement this, altogether providing comprehensive guidance on procuring chargepoints, placing and integrating them, and managing costs. Positioning chargepoints and adapting parking policies for electric vehicles and Minimising the costs of street works and grid connections for charging infrastructure can be found on the EST website, under Developing an electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Local authorities looking for more tailored assistance, can take advantage of Energy Saving Trust’s Local Government Support Programme. Our three Regional Account Managers are based across England, and work with local authorities on a one-to-one basis, supporting the development of knowledge and sharing best practice.

Funded by the Department for Transport, Energy Saving Trust can provide tailored support to help local authorities improve local air quality and reduce CO2 emissions. We can offer impartial advice on chargepoint procurement, planning policies and can facilitate a team workshop or independently review your draft plans.

The team can help your local authority identify suitable transport programmes as a local and regional level that can impact air quality, and help you link existing programmes and initiatives to develop a stronger strategy overall.

Over the next few months the Regional Account Managers are holding a series of free webinars to help local authority officers build their knowledge and share expertise around low emission transport. Topics include air quality improvements, responding to the climate emergency, and stakeholder engagement. All webinars will be made available as recordings and will complement the charging guides and Local Government Support Programme offering.

Energy Saving Trust continues to deliver a range of other projects and funding streams on behalf of the Department for Transport (DfT) and Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) that support local authorities in England.

The On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme, delivered by Energy Saving Trust on behalf of OLEV, allows local authorities to apply for funding to help with the costs of procurement and installation of on-street charging points for residential use. Local authorities can also apply to DfT’s eCargo Bike Grant Fund, delivered by the Energy Saving Trust to support the acquisition of ecargo bikes and make last mile delivery more sustainable.

Visit Energy Saving Trust’s Transport pages to download a copy of the charging infrastructure guides, and see what other support is suitable for you.

AMP Clean Energy secures planning for 50MW of flexible urban reserve plants to support decentralised energy ambitions

Distributed energy company, AMP Clean Energy, has announced it has secured planning for 50 MW of its market-leading Urban Reserve flexible generation plants in areas of high demand, providing energy when and where it is needed most across local distribution networks. Energy turnkey solutions provider, Vital Energi, has been appointed to deliver the first four projects, which are already in construction.

The 13 plants – which are being developed across the country – are designed to both support the growth of intermittent renewables by providing on-demand electricity to keep the system balanced, and to help provide additional capacity in places of high demand, such as urban and commercial areas.  

Following the major power cut on 9 August, the need for a decentralised, flexible system to both help the UK transition towards net zero and to provide emergency power in the event of a major outage was highlighted, as Mark Tarry, Managing Director at Urban Reserve, comments:

“National Grid’s final report into the power cut on 9 August recommended that a review into the amount of emergency power available is needed to avoid blackouts happening in the future – particularly as we head to a net zero future, which will put increased pressure on the resilience of the grid.

“Decentralised, flexible generation will therefore play a critical role in helping the UK transition towards its net zero ambitions in the most cost-effective way, while providing much-needed support for the grid. Urban Reserve plants are connected at a local level and can swiftly respond to maintain the balance between supply and demand.

“Smaller-scale distributed energy is making an ever increasing contribution towards the UK’s energy requirements. As supply becomes more intermittent and demand rises to power commercial use, electric vehicle charging and, in the future, the electrification of heat, these small-scale plants will be critical to keeping the system balanced and avoiding expensive network reinforcement.

“Our ambition for Urban Reserve in 2019 was to deliver 40-50MW low-carbon projects, so we’re delighted to have secured planning for all 13 of the plants, with the first four sites already under construction.”

One of the first plants under construction is the 2.3MW facility in Romney Warren, which was announced following UK Power Network’s flexibility auction in July. As well as providing power to the local network, the plants will also have the potential to supply heat and power to local businesses and residents in the future.

Mark Tarry continues: “It was a real achievement to be awarded the contract as part of the UK’s biggest competitive tender for flexible energy. That said, to achieve the full potential of distributed generation, more networks must now focus efforts on anticipating future demand growth and pinpointing hot spots for future constraints. This would help to provide clear market signals for investment in flexible generation, when and where it is needed most.

 “With the UK’s eyes now firmly on net zero, flexible solutions that ensure demand peaks are manageable will be vital.”

Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust invests £10.9 million in new energy technology at Wythenshawe Hospital and Withington Community Hospital

Wythenshawe Hospital and Withington Community Hospital, part of the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), are set to benefit from a £10.9 million investment in new energy infrastructure.

The investment will see state-of-the-art energy technology installed at the two hospitals, which will deliver a combined annual saving of at least half of the energy bill at Wythenshawe and Withington, which will fund the infrastructure investment.

Delivered by Centrica Business Solutions, the project will also reduce annual carbon emissions by 25 per cent – the equivalent to taking more than 780 cars off the road.

The 14-month long project, due to complete in March 2020, will replace life-expired infrastructure currently used by MFT at these two hospital sites.

At Wythenshawe Hospital, the work will include the creation of a new energy centre which will house a combined heat and power (CHP) unit, delivering almost all the power needed to run the hospital, as well as four new high-efficiency boilers. The site will also benefit from an upgraded energy distribution system that will serve 12 primary plant rooms that provide heat to the hospital.

At Withington Community Hospital the project will include the installation of a CHP unit. Centrica Business Solutions will also install more than 9,200 energy efficient LED lights and control systems across the two sites.

Alan Barlow, UK & Ireland Director of Centrica Business Solutions, said: “This investment will deliver a much-needed replacement of the ageing and outdated energy systems at two key hospitals in Greater Manchester, helping to unlock energy saving and meet carbon reduction targets.

“Our research shows that if this approach was replicated across just half of the NHS estate the combined saving would be more than [£130 million]. Not only would it deliver huge cost savings but also improve energy resilience which is essential for patients and staff.”

The project will be delivered under a 15-year Energy Performance Contract with Centrica Business Solutions that will include operations and maintenance support, with backing from Carbon and Energy Fund and Macquarie.

David Furnival, Group Director of Estates at Facilities at MFT said: “For MFT to deliver excellent patient-focused healthcare services, both now and for the future, we need to be sustainable in the use of our resources.

“Sustainable healthcare will help our budgets stretch further and the investment that this programme will deliver; alongside the reduction in our carbon emissions are invaluable. We are pleased to be working in partnership with Centrica Business Solutions to deliver this long-term transformation at two of our hospitals within the Trust.”

Dispense with the kettle for optimum workplace water


With the need to balance efficiency, productivity and safety in the workplace a common challenge, Roy Marsden at Heatrae Sadia, looks at the benefits of specifying a hot water dispenser over a standard kettle in light commercial environments such as the high-traffic workplace.

Under the Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992, employers are legally required to provide their employees with easily accessible drinking water that is free from contamination. In reality, whilst not strictly governed by law, it is also assumed that the vast majority of workplaces will feature tea and coffee making facilities.

The most popular choice for providing hot water in the UK is a kettle, and it is not uncommon for offices and other places of work to have several of them in order to meet hot water demand. However, the technological capabilities of an on-wall boiling water unit ensure that it holds several advantages over its kettle counterpart, in terms of efficiency, productivity, and safety.


Depending on the number of employees in an office, there will often be multiple kettles boiling at any one time. This uses significantly more energy than an on-wall boiler unit, which is capable of supplying hot water to a substantial number of individuals in one go.

For instance, let’s assume that 15 people require a hot drink: a standard-sized kettle only holds enough water to fill six mugs, so two and a half kettles will be required to satisfy everyone’s needs. Compare this to an on-wall boiling unit with a capacity of five litres of instantly-available hot water, and the energy credentials of such units become quickly apparent.

The notion of 15 people all wanting a hot drink at once may seem like an unlikely scenario, though anyone who has made a drink round for an office will understand the plausibility of the situation. But even in workplaces where demand is more intermittent, an on-wall boiling unit still holds the advantage over a kettle.

This is because, unlike with a kettle, boiling units only use the necessary amount of water. Over-filling is a recurring theme in the use of kettles, as people will regularly fill them to the top, even if they are only making one drink. This means that energy is wasted in heating water that will simply be left to cool down, only to be re-heated again later on. Not only does this have a negative impact on running costs, but there is also research to suggest that twice-boiled water results in a worse cup of tea!

Aside from the tangible savings on energy bills that an on-wall boiling unit can provide, moving away from kettles can also have a positive impact on a building’s BREEAM rating. With efficient flow rates, boiling units can improve the energy credentials of a building, an increasingly important consideration as the demand for sustainable buildings continues to rise.


The UK’s love affair with tea is well documented, and the number of hot drinks consumed daily is estimated to be around 235 millioni. Considering the number of hours we spend at work, this amounts to a significant amount of time spent making tea and coffee in the office, which in turn leads to a substantial loss in business income.

Having a boiling water supply that is readily available will drastically decrease the time spent waiting for a kettle to boil. This is obviously vital for busy businesses which need to minimise ‘downtime’, but it also provides employees with the peace of mind that they have access to hot drinks, without impacting their productivity.

Another factor in the productivity of a workplace is the design of the space itself. Known as biophilic design, there is a trend towards emphasising our innate connection with nature, and looking at how our surroundings can have an impact on health, wellbeing, and productivity.

When you consider that we spend 90% of our lives indoorsii, much of that at work, it becomes clear that the office environment must be designed with our health in mind. Over 130 million days are lost to sickness absence every yeariii, and there is increasingly a drive towards improving office spaces to promote a more harmonious working environment.

Alongside exposure to natural light and good air quality, easy access to water is a key determinant in establishing a healthy work environment. Providing employees with a convenient, constant supply of hot water in the form on an on-wall boiling unit contributes to a happier, healthier, and ultimately more productive workforce.


Health and safety is a crucial consideration in any business, and the introduction of an on-wall boiling unit can significantly improve an office in this regard. On a very basic level, the removal of trailing leads and wires that are connected to a kettle alleviates the issues of tripping. A cluttered office kitchen can cause a headache for those charged with managing employee safety, and a boiling unit represents an ergonomic alternative.

Additionally, on-wall boiling units are designed to prevent instances of scalding. Whereas kettles are often hot to touch, which can lead to cases of burning if care is not taken, boiling units are insulated in such a way that prevents this from happening. Furthermore, with an on-wall solution, any steam generated during heat-up is condensed and retained within the unit to prevent against accidental burns or scalding. Moreover, they dispense very hot water safely, by using a push/pull lever to allow for boiling water to be delivered in a more controlled manner than that of a kettle.

In many cases, boiling units are made from materials which are easy-to-clean, and therefore built to prevent the spread of infection – such as stainless steel. This helps to improve hygiene, and ultimately reduce the prevalence of illness in an office. Integrated water conditioners can also help to decrease scaling in hard-water areas.

Finally, kettles are classed as a portable piece of electronic equipment, and are therefore subject to annual PAT testing – a well-known headache for those managing office environments. On-wall boiling units, however, are permanently plumbed and electronically-powered, meaning they are not considered ‘portable’, and are subsequently not governed by this testing.

Overall, an on-wall boiling unit is a superior option to a kettle, capable of delivering a supply of boiling water to workplaces efficiently and safely. In turn, this helps to boost productivity, which leads to a happier, and ultimately more effective, workforce.

For more information on Heatrae Sadia’s Supreme range of on-wall boiling units, please visit




Rinnai UK wins two major global awards in hot water heating marketplace


Rinnai has won two global awards for an ‘Outstanding Performance’ in the UK hot water heating marketplace. Rinnai UK was judged to have made the REU Most Outstanding Performance and Best Business Performance in its category.

The awards acknowledge the strides that Rinnai UK has made during the last several years in converting the marketplace to continuous flow energy and fuel-efficient products in the commercial and domestic hot water heating arenas.

“We are delighted that a team effort has resulted in global acknowledgement by our peers. We are honoured. It is gratifying to be recognised for all the hard work that each member of staff has made throughout the year,” says Managing Director Tony Gittings.

This year sees Rinnai, global leaders in continuous flow hot water heating products and systems, introducing the Zen and Zen Plus home hot water & heating system which marries established and proven manufacture durability with new technologies to offer great energy efficiencies, user control and, importantly, unparalleled level of comfort.

Rinnai UK will be launching this innovation plus several other cutting-edge appliances during 2019. The company has already launched a service & maintenance scheme, tailored training courses for installers and will be introducing the next and most advanced generation of hot water heating units.

The Rinnai Zen and Zen Plus system will increase comfort and reduce energy usage whilst also providing a highly economically solution for today’s changing marketplace.

‘Our core expertise is the mass production of long-term reliable combustion products with advanced technologies – we are a global leader and make over 2 million water heating units every year for domestic, residential and commercial applications.

“We have been researching and monitoring the UK domestic heating market for several years until we had a proven system. That time is now, and we are offering hot water heating units together with a superior performance combi boiler in 24, 29 and 35-kW outputs.” says Tony Gittings.


Not-for-profit energy switching service saves over £100,000 for businesses while helping boost charities


Not-for-profit energy switching service saves over £100,000 for businesses while helping boost charities

A national energy and telecoms switching consultancy has helped businesses to save over £80,000 on their energy bills and reinvested £16,000 in grants to their charity customers thanks to its innovative concept.

SwitchAid, based in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, is a not-for-profit social enterprise which helps businesses and homes divert cash to the third sector which they might normally pay as commission to brokers or comparison websites.

The pioneering energy and communications fundraising scheme gives back over 65% of its profits to the local community and has already unlocked over £100,000. The founders decided to set the businesses up in a way that would require them to give back to their community. Director Dom Ryan said: “Our whole ethos is to generate revenue that can be redirected into the local community, cash that would normally be lost to energy and telecoms companies and consultants who keep the hefty commissions.

“As a business we choose to put our profits into good causes; as we are a registered Community Interest Company the percentage of our profits we do this with has to be 65% or over.

“ is specifically designed to support the local community, improve the sustainability of third sector organisations and offer an ethical option in the energy and telecoms sectors notorious for sharp business practices.”

One organisation that has benefited from the scheme is charity YMCA North Tyneside, which has saved almost £24,000 and is set to receive a grant of over £680. The substantial cash windfall and energy savings will help its future sustainability and the delivery of vital services to young people and their families in the region.

YMCA North Tyneside operations manager Rachel Dyne signed up to toward the end of last year after a long standing energy contract came up for renewal. As a charity YMCA North Tyneside helps at least 500 young people with 42 beds located in North Shields, a gym and community café team.

They also offer youth centres and support for families who find themselves struggling for a range of reasons, to have guidance, support and help from the YMCA team.

Rachel said: “The money we have saved and the significant grant we are receiving from will go towards maintaining the valuable services we provide to the hundreds of young people who often only need a friendly face and a little extra help to get them back on track with their lives.

“As a charity we provide an invaluable service to young people and the families of young people who find themselves in very difficult positions confronted with the reality of social and economic deprivation, isolation or have children with complex needs. We can offer accommodation, guidance and sign posting to advice and support services.”

The REfUSE Café in Chester-Le-Street, Co Durham – which turns waste food into healthy meals – also signed up and is looking to receive a boost from the grants. REfUSE Café is part of the UK-wide The Real Junk Food Project, a network of organisations challenging surplus levels of food waste, operating on a ‘Pay As You Feel Basis’ and is entirely run by volunteers.

Nikki Dravers, a co-founder of REfUSE, said: “ has been great, they contacted us last year at a time when we were in the middle of stressful building work trying to get the café ready to open and we were approached by various energy consultants who I felt were trying to hoodwink and exploit us.

“What SwitchAid has done is advise not sell, which has taken away all the worry about our energy supplier. This will potentially unlock hundreds of pounds on a regular basis and by supporting us in this way SwitchAid is contributing toward making our not-for-profit business model more sustainable.”

SwitchAid can either work directly with the third sector – helping charitable organisations to cut their bills and win grant funding – or with individuals and businesses that can nominate a preferred good cause to benefit from the savings they make.

  • Co Durham Childs Play Private Nursery is one organisation that has benefitted from the scheme, receiving £1,330 in grants while at the same time saving £700 on energy costs and £1,440 on mobile phone costs. Laura Davies managing director of Childs Play Private Nursery said: “We’ve used the additional funds given to us from SwitchAid to freshen up our new nurseries. Some paint throughout will make a world of difference and give the families a feeling of positivity as they transitioned from the old owners to the new. Thanks again to SwitchAid, who were a huge help from the start which meant being able to concentrate on setting up and running my new nurseries.”
  • Ferryhill Sport and Education Centre also saved £14,473 while gaining £5,000 in grants from SwitchAid. Andrew Hubbard, chair of the Ferryhill Community Partnership, the charity behind the sport and education centre, said: “We’ve been able to give the people what they asked for by setting up a new soccer school which is now being used by about 50 school children a week.”
  • The Teesdale Community Resource hub has saved over £20,000 on energy costs and raised £1,400 in grant value. Jonny Elliot started as a volunteer himself and now manages the venue and is also responsible for outdoor pursuits. He said: “We offer a huge variety of activities and schools from across the region come to take advantage of our indoor and outdoor spaces. The savings and cash grant helps us keep the doors open and offer the huge range of activities we do. If we can save money on our bills, then its cash that can then be better focused on helping us deliver our much needed services. We know what we offer is almost unique and explains why we get regular visits from groups as far away as Mencap in Kirklees as well as fantastic local support from many of the schools and community groups in the North East.”

How to improve energy visibility for higher efficiency

Ian Hopkins

Public sector organisations may be missing out on opportunities to maximise energy efficiency savings and improve cost and carbon performance because they don’t have clear visibility over their energy consumption, says Ian Hopkins, Director of Centrica Business Solutions.

Research by Centrica Business Solutions shows that less than a quarter of organisations monitor energy use continuously, with most saying they only measure usage annually or even less frequently.

If you don’t know precisely how, when and where energy is being used across your sites, it is almost impossible to pinpoint exactly where waste is occurring. How can you understand where your energy costs really lie, or the best opportunities to make savings?

Advanced analytics

The most energy efficient organisations understand the importance of collecting and analysing energy consumption data. The best performers use advanced software analytics to gain deeper energy insights by taking their energy intelligence gathering beyond the meter. In this way they can find out exactly how energy intensive processes and equipment are using energy and unlock greater value from these assets.

This advanced analytics approach involves attaching wireless sensors to equipment and linking these up to an online analytics platform using Internet of Things (IoT) technology. The resulting data can provide real-time, granular visibility of power use and easy-to-digest insights into how processes and assets are performing.

By deploying advanced energy monitoring and measurement solutions, organisations can gain a clear understanding of their energy use across multiple sites – right down to individual device level. Hundreds of sensors can be installed within a few hours, leading to full energy visibility without causing any disruption to operations.

Improving operational performance

Energy monitoring software helps public bodies to identify consumption anomalies that can indicate energy waste and problems with operational performance. In fact, identifying problems with operational efficiency can be the most significant benefit. It can quickly identify hidden weaknesses in operational processes and equipment faults because irregular energy consumption patterns can be symptomatic of difficult to detect problems and performance issues.

Managers can make use of energy intelligence to make adjustments, repairs or corrections to equipment or systems. This can reduce downtime, improve flexibility and boost productivity. It can sometimes provide opportunities to spot potential equipment failures before they happen, thus avoiding disruption and cost.

Advanced energy analytics also reveals areas where energy is being wasted, particularly during downtime in the evening or over weekends. If non-essential equipment is being used when a site is not in operation, it is easy to find the source of the problem. By gaining deeper insights into energy wastage and operational performance issues, organisations can often achieve a rapid payback on the monitoring technology and benefit from the ongoing savings.

Informing energy savings

Another powerful reason for advanced energy monitoring is to inform higher-level energy efficiency improvements that go beyond ‘quick-win’ saving measures towards more sophisticated methods of demand reduction. Once an organisation has built a clear picture of energy use and priorities, it becomes easier to create an accurate and convincing case for new capital investments.

For those organisations that are looking to shift their energy usage from the grid to lower carbon, more affordable and resilient supplies, gaining a deeper insight into energy consumption is an essential first step. Combined heat and power (CHP), solar photovoltaic systems and battery storage can often provide a rapid return on investment for the right sites, but senior leaders must be able to make an informed decision and base equipment sizing and specification on accurate energy consumption figures.

It’s often said that “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. In the case of energy, you can’t properly control it either, which is why it’s so important to gain full visibility of energy performance and ensure that advanced monitoring and metering strategies sit at the heart of your energy strategy.

The benefits of enhanced energy insights are multiple, including:

  • Revealing energy insights you can act on to improve performance
  • Understanding exactly how, when and where energy is being used and how to reduce waste
  • Optimising your operational efficiency and reducing business risk
  • Improving productivity
  • Unlocking value from your energy assets
  • Analysing asset performance and informing maintenance strategies
  • Informing end-to-end energy management strategies and investment

Further information:

Ground-breaking Dutch eco-scheme slashes energy bills by more than half in Maldon, Essex


  • Moat leap into the future with radical net-zero energy refurbishment programme.
  • A combination of technologies creates ultra-low emitting homes which generate their own electricity
  • This ‘Energiesprong’ pilot will save 3.2 tonnes of CO2 per home per year by cutting emissions by a huge 90%
  • Residents will save hundreds of pounds a year off their energy bills

A ground-breaking Dutch energy efficiency initiative has landed in Essex which could cut tenants’ bills by well over half whilst emitting 90% less carbon. Moat have refurbished properties in Maldon using the ‘Energiesprong’ (Dutch for ‘energy leap’) gold standard of energy efficiency, the first such pilot in the South East. This revolutionary concept will also deliver huge savings for residents by vastly reducing energy bills.

The newly refurbished houses look like they’ve bulked up compared to their neighbours – that’s because they have. Moat’s refurbishment includes new insulated walls and roof panels bolted onto the existing house, which has made it about 30 centimeters bigger and taller, like an insulated tea cosy which will keep it warm all year round.

But the energy efficient technologies go far further than insulation:

  • The house is made airtight with sealed windows and doors.
  • 20 solar panels generate electricity year-round and store it in a battery in the back garden for use at night.
  • The gas boiler is replaced with a modern air-source heat pump to operate the central heating.
  • New vents circulate fresh air throughout the house.

These technologies work in synergy to create a home which conforms to the Energiesprong standard. To meet this high standard the home must generate enough clean electricity to ensure the living room is kept warm year-round whilst powering hot water and household appliances.

The houses are now as close to net-zero users of energy as possible, radically cutting carbon emissions by 90% and delivering savings of approximately 3.2 tonnes of carbon emissions per home per year:

  • If this was scaled up across Maldon in homes of the same type this could save approximately 82,000 tonnes of CO2;
  • Or in a town the size of Chelmsford 220,000 tonnes.

The pilot homes in Maldon were chosen because while they had a middling energy efficiency rating, they were particularly hard to heat and expensive for residents. They are surrounded front and back by open farmland and catch the cold North Sea wind. Prior to the refurbishment energy bills could be £2,000 a year, under this new scheme tenants will pay significantly less and homes will have an ‘A’ energy efficiency rating.

Moat have a long and successful history of tackling energy efficiency issues in their houses. They regularly win or are commended in regional and national categories at the energy efficiency awards. With this pilot they are bringing their knowledge together with European funding to give impetus to Energiesprong UK – whose aim is to spread desirable, warm homes for life across the country. In July the organisation won the prestigious Ashden award 2019 for sustainable buildings.

Moat are investing further in energy efficiency at a critical time. The Government has declared a ‘Climate Emergency’ and has a target to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2050. With household emissions accounting for 18% of the UK’s carbon emissions Moat’s pilot illustrates a path to a carbon neutral future.

Schemes such as this can also be used to fight fuel poverty by bringing energy bills down significantly. Furthermore warmer, more comfortable homes decrease the burden on the NHS which currently spends £1.4 billion annually on conditions caused by poor housing. 

Industry-first Bio-LNG offering for Flogas customers


Flogas Britain – a major supplier of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) – has added liquid biomethane (Bio-LNG) to its off-grid energy supply, marking the industry’s very first Bio-LNG solution for commercial and industrial operations. 

Available immediately, the new Bio-LNG offering is targeted at businesses running continuous, energy-intensive manufacturing or industrial processes, as well as the transportation industry. A cleaner energy source than any other off-grid fossil fuel, companies switching to Flogas Bio-LNG can benefit from major carbon savings of more than 80%.

The launch comes quickly after Flogas unveiled its 2040 Vision and ambition to supply customers with 100% renewable energy by 2040. “Adding Bio-LNG to our off-grid energy supply is a real step-change for the business and shows just how serious we are about building a lower carbon future for the UK,” says David Taylor, Head of Corporate Affairs and Innovation at Flogas. “Whilst this renewable biogas is already in its infancy across the transport industry, we’re the very first to bring it to off-grid commercial and industrial companies – and we’re delighted to be leading the way.

“We already supply tens of thousands of tonnes of conventional LNG each year for industrial use, but as the UK moves towards a commitment to cut emissions to ‘Net Zero’ by 2050, Bio-LNG is perfectly placed to fuel industry. Not only does it provide a reliable, powerful and abundant fuel source, it will radically improve a company’s carbon footprint too. This is a major draw, as it helps businesses meet strict government carbon and pollutant reduction targets.”

Bio-LNG is a highly sustainable version of LNG with almost the exact same chemical makeup. It is produced during the anaerobic digestion (AD) process, which breaks down organic matter (such as food, sewage sludge or animal waste) to produce methane-rich biogas. This makes Bio-LNG a renewable energy source, one that produces far few carbon emissions than other off-grid fuels and negligible pollutants. 

“The good news is, businesses already running their operations using LNG can switch to Bio-LNG instantly,” says David Taylor. “By using certified Bio-LNG on a mass balance basis, there’s no need for set up changes or costly downtime, and businesses can enjoy immediate carbon savings. Green gas is injected into the grid as biomethane – sourced mainly from Anaerobic Digestion plants – with each unit displacing the equivalent amount of conventional gas. We then provide customers with green gas certificates, which track the biomethane through the supply chain, providing certainty from production to end use.”

Flogas’ Bio-LNG offering is also available to businesses currently using other fuels. With an expert team in place, it provides bespoke solutions for new customers and manages the whole process – from civil works through to installation and commissioning of new equipment. They also benefit from Flogas’ reliable LNG fleet – one of the largest, most technically-advanced of its kind.

For more information on Flogas Bio-LNG or any other Flogas offering, visit or call 0800 574 574.

Rinnai celebrates its first 100 years of manufacturing products to serve its customers


Rinnai, best known in the UK for its comprehensive range of hot water and heating home units, is globally celebrating its first 100 years of manufacture in serving its customers with a three-year period of planned anniversary related events to connect to the start of the company’s next centenary.

The Rinnai Corporation was founded in Nagoya, Japan in 1819 and today operates in 17 nations and regions around the world with sales of kitchen appliances, air conditioners, hot water heating & home heating units in over 80 countries.

Says Rinnai UK Managing Director Tony Gittings, ”The company has evolved and developed into a group that produces a diversity of products and services that directly benefit ordinary people in their daily lives.

“Our policy is to help enrich the lives of people in local communities by providing optimal solutions that fit the lifestyle culture, climate conditions, and the energy situation of each country around the world. The three-year period is aimed at connecting the first century to the next one. The theme will be named – Connected in passion for the next 100 years.”

This follows the other significant corporate developments on the global presence of Rinnai – the issuing of a new logo and a new brand statement – ‘A Healthier Way of Living’.

In the UK Rinnai is the acknowledged leader in continuous flow hot water heating technology. The company offers a comprehensive range of A-rated units plus large systems for any size of site or application.

The ESOS countdown is on: could EPCs be a route to compliance?


There is less than six months to go until the deadline for phase 2 of the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS). If past performance is anything to go by, most ESOS-obligated organisations will still not have begun their energy audits. If they are to ensure compliance by 5th December 2019, however, they need to be acting now.

To date, ESOS compliance has not gone as smoothly as the Environment Agency probably hoped. The problems of four years ago with phase 1 have been well documented, with most compliance reports submitted either last minute or late. Peak ESOS reporting for phase 1 was the 4th December 2015, the day before the deadline. Delayed action from organisations in starting the compliance process meant that, for lead energy assessors, they had a lot of time-consuming energy audits to do, and not much time to do them in.

If we have learnt any lessons from phase 1, it should cause us to consider what resources we have that could lead to a more efficient, less time-consuming route to compliance. Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) could be a very valuable, currently underutilised, resource here.

Compliance issues

ESOS obligated organisations are required to carry out an ESOS assessment every four years. This involves conducting an audit calculating total energy consumption (consumed by buildings, industrial processes and transport), identifying the areas of significant consumption (amounting to at least 90% of the total), and highlighting opportunities to make energy savings. Once this assessment is complete, they submit a notification of compliance to the Environment Agency. ESOS is applicable to large organisations with over 250 employees, or with an annual turnover above €50 million and balance sheet above €43 million. For most organisations, buildings will make up 90% of their energy demand.

The statistics that emerged following phase 1 in 2015 revealed that non-compliance with ESOS was rife. Around 2,800 organisations didn’t complete on time, only 16% of those that did were fully compliant, and 500 organisations that were obligated to submit never did, leading to a large number of civil penalty proceedings. Interestingly, the Environment Agency engaged in more enforcement activity against organisations that did submit an assessment, but where they failed to fully meet the requirements.

Arguably the main reason for late, poorly formulated, or no submissions at all is due to organisations not allocating enough time for lead energy assessors to successfully complete the assessment. For organisations with rented properties, where EPCs will already have been undertaken, they have the potential to significantly cut down on the time it takes for assessment.

It is important to note that EPCs are not a catch-all for ESOS compliance. There are four routes to compliance: ISO 50001, Display Energy Certificates (DECs), Green Deal Assessments (GDAs) or ESOS compliant energy audits. EPCs can be used for the third option, as they can be used to generate a GDA report, and for the fourth, as they can inform an energy audit.

Quicker assessment

So, how can EPCs save energy assessors time and effort for ESOS assessments? The answer lies in the energy model that is contained within the building EPC file. This can be uploaded into software that can automatically calculate the energy savings opportunities, and produce a report template for assessors that is already populated with this key information.

Once the EPC data file has been uploaded, intelligent software platforms can analyse it and provide a range of improvement measures for the property, including the cost to implement the measures and the length of the payback period, the energy that will be saved, and the resulting carbon reduction.

Software that also allows assessors to input the actual building consumption data can enhance these savings measures, scaling them in proportion to the real consumption data. This allows the suggested improvement measures to be much more accurate and realistic, aligning them with how the building actually operates and consumes energy, not just how the building model suggests it would. This more realistic assessment could result in a greater degree of post-ESOS actual improvement activity – the findings from phase 1 revealed ESOS assessment did not have much of an impact on future energy efficiency decision making.

Utilising a platform that can do the bulk of the analytical work for assessors, and input it into a template ESOS report – populated with the reference year of energy data, savings measures for the organisation, and detailed savings measures for each property in the portfolio – could save a lot of time and effort. It could also reduce the number of site visits, which assessors are expected to conduct as part of the ESOS audit. If they have the energy models from EPCs done in the last four years, that constitutes a site survey, so they could choose to only inspect a select few sites.

All property rented or sold in the last ten years will already have an EPC, and organisations with rented sites count for a large proportion of ESOS-obligated companies. This means that many organisations are actually sitting on a resource that could be used to help lead energy assessors take a more efficient route to compliance. For assessors, it presents an opportunity to conduct more ESOS assessments in the given time, in what will no doubt be a very busy period in the run up to the phase 2 deadline.

Looking to the future, there is some talk of ESOS being extended to sweep up even more organisations. If this happens, the time pressures and mounting demand on assessors will be exacerbated further. With that in mind, it’s time to start thinking smarter about how we approach ESOS assessment, and the range of resources in our toolkit that could help.

Stephen Preece

Stephen Preece is the Business Development Director at proptech company arbnco, which develops software solutions to improve the energy efficiency of commercial & public sector real estate. Its arbn consult platform now incorporates ESOS reporting functionality.