Insights / We cut energy output in our Ipswich office by 29%

We cut energy output in our Ipswich office by 29%

Reducing energy use can help organisations to become more sustainable and more successful. And it can reduce your carbon emissions, too.

To show the benefits of acting sustainably, we set out to cut our energy use and costs, and carbon emissions at our Ipswich office.

Haven office aerial

Our objective

In 2019, we set ourselves a target: to improve energy efficiency at our Ipswich office by at least 25%.

We also wanted to make sure that the energy we used was cleaner, so that we could reduce carbon emissions across our operations.

And of course, we had to prove that all these sustainability measures made good business sense. That meant they had to be cost effective, and deliver a good return on investment.

The plan

The Drax Electric Assets team helps our customers optimise their energy use, so it applied the same skills and processes to help us reduce our energy use, save costs and cut our carbon footprint.

The team discovered we could introduce on-site power generation at Ipswich to produce zero carbon electricity and open up new opportunities to make and save money. Reducing our energy consumption would mean cutting our energy spending and selling power back to the grid would make additional revenue.

We found four ways to reduce our energy consumption and costs:

  1. Installing on-site renewable generation to reduce our reliance on imported electricity from the grid
  2. Trialling battery storage to understand its applications for our business
  3. Updating our office with energy efficient LEDs to reduce consumption
  4. Promoting electric vehicles usage by installing charging stations and getting an electric pool car

Our experience has helped us to better understand the issues our customers face, and how we can overcome them. For example, throughout the project, we worked closely with the local Distribution Network Operator (DNO). The DNO helped us rework our installation designs to better meet our goals and successfully deliver our excess generation back to the grid.

Read on to discover how the team put each of the four initiatives into action.

Talking about our generation

Installing renewable generation onsite

We installed photovoltaic (PV) solar panels on our Ipswich office roof to help power the building, and reduce our demand on the grid, when consumption costs are highest.

When we commissioned the installation, the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme was open, paying generators a set rate for each unit of electricity generated. Even though the scheme is now closed to new generators, our energy experts can help you find the onsite generation solutions that best suit your needs.

Haven solar panels

Installing a battery storage facility

Since we rent our Ipswich office, we installed a semi-permanent solution: an 80kWh battery storage unit, housed in a transportable container. The solar panels on the roof charge up the battery - ready for us to use later.

In sunny periods when our solar generation levels are higher than our consumption, we can use the battery to store the excess power. The office can then draw upon this stored electricity at other times, including when grid costs are high. Or, we can export the saved energy back to the grid to earn additional income.

Flip the switch

Using the onsite solar and battery to cut costs

Generating and storing your own electricity will save you money over the long term. We chose to go one step further - as we always do for our customers - by analysing our consumption data. By better understanding our energy use, then, our team could find more opportunities to reduce our usage and costs.

Our battery was programmed to discharge stored electricity to the Ipswich office between 4pm and 7pm, Monday to Friday. Energy prices are at their highest during this time, as demand peaks. We also made sure that we could set a trigger on the battery to avoid the Triads. These are the three half-hour periods, between November and February, with the highest demand on the transmission network – and consequently, the highest costs.

Our battery not only means we can continue to operate in the event of a power cut; it also helps us avoid energy use at certain times and reduce our grid-based consumption and costs.

Battery energy storage

Lighting the way with LEDs

The team found that lighting was one of the highest costs at our Ipswich office – and the same’s true for most office-based businesses.

By installing more efficient LED lighting - which uses about one third as much energy as traditional lights - we were able to immediately and significantly reduce our electricity use.

Life in the fast lane

Encouraging the uptake of EVs

Next, we looked at moving from a petrol or diesel pool car to an electric one. An electric vehicle (EV) would help us reduce our fuel costs and carbon footprint. Naturally, this also meant being able to recharge it easily, so we installed four EV charge stations in the office car park.

As well as powering up our pool car, these charge stations are also available to colleagues and visitors with their own EVs. Since these stations are connected to the building’s solar supply, we can guarantee a carbon neutral charging infrastructure.

Our team worked hard to find the most efficient and cost-effective charging solution for our needs, from a wide range of available options. The plan has delivered a future-proof infrastructure, and we can connect additional charge stations as we need them.

EV cars charging

The results

Pairing energy efficiency measures with on-site renewable generation delivered clear, measurable benefits at our Ipswich office. Compared to the previous year, when relying on power from the grid and using our old lighting, our post-installation electricity import was down 29%.

Import from grid graph

Solar PV installation

  • Installed an array with 80 kWp (peak kilowatt) capacity in March 2019
  • 30% reduction (on average) in the amount of imported electricity compared to previous year, and rising to 43% over the summer of 2019
  • During the summer, solar PV provided up to 30% of the office’s consumption requirements
Consumption, import and solar graph

Battery storage

  • An 80kWh system is in place on site, providing a total export capacity of 678kWh
  • The office now uses this as its main power source during peak times (4pm-7pm), helping to avoid the highest energy costs
  • The office can keep operating without interruption in the event of a power cut

LED lighting upgrade

  • The LEDs use one third of the energy per bulb for the same light output as the halogen lighting previously in place
  • Switching to LEDs has reduced daily electricity consumption by over 10%, saving 17 tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide emissions)

EV investment and charging points

  • In its first year, the EV pool car travelled 6,924 km and prevented 1.7 tonnes of CO2e entering the atmosphere (compared with the petrol car that would have been used)
  • In the first year following installation, the charge points dispensed 9 MWh of power in over 550 sessions, saving 7.5 tonnes of CO2e
EV charging points graph

How can your organisation benefit?

We’re keen to repeat the incredible success at our Ipswich office at customer sites all over the UK. If you want to cut consumption, costs and carbon emissions, our team can help.

Contact us