Assessing energy services for a low carbon economy

A promising route to a lower carbon future for the UK may be the provision of services rather than commodities. For example, consumers ultimately require the services of reliable transport and clean clothes, rather than the commodities of cars and washing machines. Energy delivers a multitude of services, such as heating, cooling and motive power, and there may be scope for delivering these services at a lower environmental cost. Energy services represent a new and rapidly growing business model where suppliers offer a single contract to minimise the total bill for the services that energy provides. By outsourcing their energy management, host companies can reduce energy costs, lower risk, avoid capital expenditure and concentrate attention on core activities. Energy services may develop into carbon services, which include carbon offsetting, renewable energy purchasing, fuel switching and participation in emissions trading. Energy services might provide a costeffective route to overcoming the barriers to the adoption of low carbon technologies by the public, commercial, and industrial sectors. Steve Sorrell at SPRU (Science and Technology Policy Research) at the University of Sussex and the Tyndall Centre is assessing the potential role of energy services within a low carbon economy. He is asking whether a long-term transition from today’s commodity supply to future service supply is a realistic or desirable goal. He is also examining how energy services could overcome obstacles to the adoption of low carbon technologies. The research uses case studies and stakeholder interviews, as well as a quantitative assessment of the energy services market. The results should be relevant to academic, policy and energy industry audiences.
The Tyndall Centre and the Science and Technology Policy Research Unit (SPRU) are assessing the potential role of energy services within a low carbon economy. Energy delivers a multitude of services, such as heating, cooling and transport, and there may be scope for delivering these services at a lower environmental cost.

More information
Contact the lead investigator of Project T3.21 (Delivering a low carbon future: The transition to energy services): Steve Sorrell Science and Technology Policy Research Unit University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9RF Tel: 01273 877067 s.r.sorrell@sussex.ac.uk

Useful Websites
The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research www.tyndall.ac.uk SPRU (Science and Technology Policy Research) www.sussex.ac.uk/spru The Carbon Trust www.thecarbontrust.co.uk Energy Systems Trade Association www.esta.org.uk The Energy Savings Trust www.est.co.uk Project duration: July 2003 – July 2004

Round 3

© A Minns