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Manufacturing output and the wider UK economy could receive a boost of £2.56 billion in a decade through greater investment in energy technologies, says Barclays
UK manufacturers could inject an additional £2.56 billion into the UK economy, cut energy consumption by nearly a third (31.6%) and boost their energy resilience by increasing investment in energy technology over the course of the next decade, according to a new Barclays report.
The research shows a growing concern about the availability, reliability and cost of energy with over a quarter of Scotland’s manufacturers surveyed (27%) saying that energy supply is more of a concern to their business now than at the start of 2016.
These concerns have come to the fore as manufacturers feel squeezed by increases in the price of other raw materials, greater competitive pressure in the sector, and concern over the eventual impact of the UK leaving the European Union.
The Barclays Corporate Banking Powering On: Energy Resilience in UK Manufacturing report examines current attitudes of UK manufacturers towards energy supply and management and models how manufacturers could reduce their energy demand.
Jamie Grant, head of Corporate Banking for Barclays in Scotland, said: “Energy resilience and costs are vital considerations for manufacturers across Scotland and we know manufacturers are taking steps to improve their energy resilience, from investing in energy efficiency to self-generation and partnering with resource recovery parks.
“Our research shows that working to increase this investment will not only help shield against future changes to the energy supply, but will also benefit the wider economy by making the sector more competitive through reduced costs and increased productivity.”
Chief among manufacturers’ concerns today are energy prices, with 68% of Scotland’s manufacturers citing this as a worry. Over a third (38%) of manufacturers in the region also believe that they are vulnerable to the effects of significant energy price increases, and of these 16% believe that they are very vulnerable.
Longer term, Scotland’s manufacturers are concerned that energy shortages will occur, with 46% expecting these in the next ten years. Over half of the sector (59%) believes that they are vulnerable to energy shortages, arguing that current preparations are likely to be insufficient, compared to 63% at a national level.
Scotland’s manufacturers ramp up investment
Manufacturers across Scotland are already investing time and money in a variety of energy management technologies and approaches, or planning to in the next 12 months, with energy efficiency measures (16%), negotiating lengthier energy supplier contracts (14%) and self-generation (11%) measures topping the list.
The Barclays research reveals that if all manufacturers became as energy efficient as the leaders in the sector, this could create an industry worth £160bn to the wider UK economy by 2025. This represents an increase of 5.1% in value terms compared to 2015, and a £306m increase on the projected value of the manufacturing sector if it were to remain on its current trajectory, without improvement in energy efficiency.
This extra economic output will be achieved by the sector cutting costs and improving its international competitive position, but only if the sector can develop the leadership commitment and resources required.
As a single year comparison – in 2025 alone, this improvement in energy efficiency would result in a manufacturing sector using 7.9% less energy than expected. This is the equivalent of successfully cutting the electricity consumption of every house in the UK by 15% compared to today.
Government policy and incentivising investment key for manufacturers in Scotland
Scotland’s manufacturers suggest that increasing access to grants (32%), providing greater certainty on ROI (30%) and sharing best practice within the sector (19 %) would be the most effective ways of driving further investment in energy technologies within the sector.
More widely, when asked for their views on priorities for UK energy policy, manufacturers are keen that efforts be focused on improving grid efficiency and stability (49%), and decarbonisation (35%).