Several commentators have already labelled it a 'perfect storm', but the reality is that energy prices could hardly have come at a worse time for companies and citizens alike. Already under huge financial pressure from nearly two years of Covid-19, the cost increases predicted for 2022 – likely to be more than 30% in many countries – could push plenty of businesses to the brink.
In terms of the origins of the current crisis, one of the most important factors is the cold winter in Europe last year that put huge pressure on gas supplies. With stored gas levels much lower than would normally be the case, and a surge in demand from Asia for liquefied natural gas, the result has been a massive 250% rise in wholescale gas prices worldwide (1).
There have also been suggestions by some observers that Russia – which supplies about 50% of the EU's natural gas imports – could be providing 15% more gas than is currently the case (2). If true, it's unlikely that the worsening situation between Russia and the international community is going to help matters.
For countries where there has been greater de-regulation of energy supplies, the problem has been intensified by the collapse of several smaller providers. This has been especially acute in the UK, where Enstroga, Igloo Energy and Symbio Energy are among those to have stopped trading in recent months.
With energy prices expected to continue rising throughout 2022, it's inevitable that the costs will be passed on to customers. For businesses, one of the only practical responses is to think about how they can reduce and manage their energy consumption more effectively.
A fresh impetus for investment
Inevitably, some businesses will be further down this track than others. Many will have made the jump to sustainable energy sources, which appear less vulnerable to price fluctuations at present. Others will have invested in individual building systems, including for heating and lighting, that can operate much more efficiently. Even in large businesses with multiple sites, these systems can often earn back their costs in just a few years.
But now, more than ever, people are seeing the value of overarching building management systems (BMS). By bringing together multiple systems under one user interface, it suddenly becomes easier to see what energy is being used, and where. With the opportunity to gather data and implement settings that help to optimise consumption, a good BMS is a massive long-term asset.
In our case, this realisation has resulted in the Priva Blue ID system. Devised for maximum reliability and able to work with existing field equipment and cabling, our BMS has found favour with companies of all sizes. As well as delivering huge cost benefits, it can also play a big role in providing a healthier workplace – something recently highlighted in our latest, free-to-download white paper (3).
Making a major systems investment is rarely an easy process, especially in a uncertain period like the present. But with no sign of an end to the crisis, ensuring you have the technology in place to optimise your energy consumption is about the safest investment you could possibly make.