Slashing power costs and reducing emissions just got easier for organizations of all sizes in the U.K. Smart Ease, a fintech that has been helping organizations to fund energy-efficiency technologies in Australia and New Zealand since 2014, this month launched operations in the U.K.
“With energy costs soaring, all businesses and organisations will be looking for ways to access cheaper and cleaner energy while avoiding upfront capital outlays,” says Guy Olian, CEO of Smart Ease.
“Removing cost barriers for customers makes it easier for installers to meet market demand. With a strong track record in funding renewable-energy projects in Australia and New Zealand, Smart Ease is well placed to help UK solar installers offer their commercial customers a stress-free way to adopt solar.”
This expansion will enable U.K. solar professionals to access competitive and convenient funding options to make it easier for businesses to adopt energy-efficiency technologies. These include not only solar power, but also EV-charging stations, battery walls for on-site energy storage and energy-efficient lighting and security systems.
Smart Ease’s digital platform approves funding applications in minutes and is used by an extensive network of equipment installers, including major energy retailers. To date, Smart Ease has funded over £165 million in transactions in Australia and New Zealand via Payment Plans and Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). Smart Ease’s U.K. launch was driven by the increased demand for low-cost, independent energy generation across Europe.
The U.K. solar sector
The U.K. solar sector has more than doubled in 12 months and has seen strong growth across residential, commercial rooftop and ground-mount sites. During 2022, new solar deployment in the U.K. is set to comfortably exceed the 1 GW level for the first time since 2016.
—says Chris Hewett, Chief Executive of Solar Energy UK.
Why this accelerated uptake? A 2021 study conducted by the U.K. Government revealed that there are three triggers for U.K. SMEs when it comes to adopting solar. These are:
- Economic uncertainty driven by Brexit, COVID and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- Super deduction on capital allowances for equipment announced in the Mar 21 budget.
- Effective communication from solar providers portraying the process as easier than before.
Since this study was published, energy prices in the U.K. have skyrocketed. Over the last five years, industrial electricity prices have increased by 31 percent, while industrial gas prices are up by 37 percent. This has further fuelled the desire for businesses to find alternative energy sources for their operations.
Overcoming barriers to decarbonization for businesses
As a commercial decision, the viability of adopting new "green" technology is assessed by SMEs based on several interconnected factors. U.K.-government research "Adoption of rooftop solar photovoltaic panels in the UK" identified that, for businesses, the cost of installation, including financing, was a significant barrier to installing solar power.
For SMEs, cash flow is always top of mind and capital often in short supply. Being able to generate energy on-site enables organizations to reduce their monthly outgoings (even when repayments for equipment are considered) and lower their exposure to price fluctuations.
Sustainability and ESG
In the commercial sector, an added factor in the uptake of decarbonization technology is brand perception and Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG). There is growing pressure on organizations to lead the way on sustainability and have an active plan to achieve Net Zero. Installing rooftop solar, EV chargers for staff and customers or other energy-efficiency equipment is an easy, simple, and highly visible way to do so.
ESG applies criteria to manage non-financial performance around social and environmental factors.
- Environmental criteria consider how a business performs as a caretaker of nature.
- Social criteria examine how it manages relationships with people and communities.
- Corporate governance looks at leadership, executive pay, audits, internal controls, and shareholder rights.
Potential investors use ESG to assess non-financial risks in companies they might want to invest in. In light of these ESG trends, organizations that don’t have climate-change goals or plans are often considered at higher risk.
Encouraging businesses and organizations to decarbonize sooner yields excellent results: energy-cost savings, business efficiencies and reduced carbon emissions.
Fast and simple payment solutions like those offered by Smart Ease are making it easier than ever for U.K. businesses to invest in renewable energy and energy-efficiency equipment. Smart Ease’s comprehensive range of payment options allows organizations of all sizes and across all industries to save money and fast-track decarbonization—without eroding their capital.