ESOS Stuck in Limbo: Energy Savings Scheme Searches for Direction
The Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), a mandatory scheme set up by the government and administered by the Environment Agency, has been subject to much change recently, which has left those involved with the scheme in the dark.
In July 2021, the government launched a public consultation on how to strengthen the scheme for the future. The consultation identified opportunities to increase the uptake and implementation of energy efficiency measures by businesses, which included, mandating the implementation of ESOS recommendations and requiring public disclosure of ESOS recommendations and/or action. It also identified the need to standardise and improve ESOS audits.
The government response to the consultation was published in July 2022, receiving widespread support for its recommendations. However, despite the positive reception, a year has elapsed, and the industry is still eagerly anticipating the implementation of the necessary changes to ESOS through the Energy Bill in parliament. This prolonged delay has left qualifying organisations and ESOS Lead Assessors uncertain about the required process and data for ESOS Phase 3, resulting in a reluctance among many to commence their involvement.
What is ESOS?
The Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) is a mandatory energy assessment scheme, introduced by the UK government to ensure that larger organisations in the UK are energy efficient.
The scheme requires large organisations, those with 250+ employees or those demonstrating a turnover/balance sheet above a certain threshold, to have an assessment/audit of their energy usage every 4 years, which includes recommendations on how they can save energy.
This energy audit is typically carried out by a qualified ESOS Lead Assessor.
Extension to Phase 3 Compliance Deadline
Elmhurst has recently received official confirmation from the Environment Agency regarding the implementation of Phase 3 Compliance with ESOS. Due to unforeseen delays in passing the necessary changes through parliament, the government has made the decision to extend the implementation date by 6 months. The new implementation date is now set for the 5th of June 2024, instead of the original deadline of 5th December 2023.
This extension has been put in place to ensure that participants have adequate time to meet the forthcoming requirements that are being finalised in legislation. Additionally, it allows Lead Assessors sufficient time to conduct the assessments required for compliance. It’s important to note that there have been no alterations to the qualification thresholds and dates associated with Phase 3 Compliance.
Although this extension will come as some relief to those involved with the scheme, Elmhurst’s Head of Operations, Josh Wakeling, remains sceptical over the implementation of these changes:
“We emphasised to the government in our initial consultation response the importance of implementing any changes to the scheme during ESOS Phase 4, despite our appreciation for the proposed improvements. This approach would minimise disruptions during Phase 3 and provide ample time for stakeholders in the industry to adapt to the changes. It is possible that due to the significant delays, professional bodies and lead assessors may face challenges in developing effective new processes and acquiring the necessary upskilling to meet the new requirements within the expected timeframe. We can only remain hopeful that these changes will be swiftly approved, bringing about a clearer direction of travel. Additionally, we hope that the extension provided will offer a sufficient buffer, allowing for a smoother transition.”