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Towards an energy efficient future

A look at how the British Electrotechnical and Allied Manufacturers Association is proactively addressing climate change and its role as a catalyst for innovation


At the forefront of innovation for over 100 years, the British Electrotechnical and Allied Manufacturers? Association (BEAMA) is the vanguard for the UK?s electro-technical industry. With its considerable influence on new technology, product development, industry issues/standards, and EU/UK legislation, the organisation proactively advances technical know-how, as well as policymaking innovation.

Founded on a wealth of diverse experience and expertise, BEAMA member groups are active in the energy, electrical installation, power, lighting and catering services sectors. The lead body for supporting electrical sector exporters, its overseas exhibitions/missions promote their interests and technological advancements worldwide Major business benefits for British manufacturers have been achieved through its extensive relationships with the utilities sector, environmental lobby, government departments and the electrical industry supply chain.

Members have especially valued the association?s positive influence on the Building Regulations, anti-counterfeiting and on the complex, protracted development of the WEEE/RoHS Directives. In addition, BEAMA?s activities in relation to new directives on energy using products, energy performance of buildings and energy services are well appreciated.


Since the 2007 Government Energy White Paper addressing the ramifications of climate change and increasing energy efficiency, urgent and ambitious action was called for to accelerate the transition to a Iow-carbon economy. BEAMA, the association and service provider for the UK electrotechnical sector, grasped this ?call to arms? by producing its own consultation: ?BEAMA White Paper on Climate Change?.

The comprehensive document is based on its manufacturing-led members? expertise and innovative mind-set in evolving product solutions for many of the government?s long-term energy policy/ low-carbon ambitions.

The association has long been actively involved in addressing the related industry issues most likely to impact on its members. Ensuring its members? ?voice? is clearly heard by being part of consultation process and offering advice and guidance in helping to shape the practicalities of the challenges and opportunities for UK industry in the government White Paper.

A large audience, including Lords, MPs, industry influencers and BEAMA members, attended a House of Commons event where the draft White Paper?s objectives were highlighted ? namely to stimulate the electro-technical industry?s response to climate change of which the key objective is energy efficiency improvement. With its aims supported by the Energy Saving Trust, the association believes there are considerable opportunities for reducing energy usage throughout the electricity supply chain. Its own White Paper suggests how these reductions can be achieved.


BEAMA?s White Paper pinpoints headline issues, which the association says require addressing by industry, government and stakeholders. So the final document will be as comprehensive and representative as possible, BEAMA has asked its members and stakeholders to provide feedback on the thought-provoking questions posed. Responses will contribute to the White Paper?s final development, planned for publication in October 2008. The government?s Energy White Paper?s scope is broad, covering most sectors in which BEAMA operates.

From low-carbon milestones for electric heating to Smart networks for decentralised generation, the White Paper?s proposals provide many opportunities for manufacturers to develop new products and services for the much sought-after low-carbon economy.


With the government?s Energy White Paper recognising production of ?heat from low-carbon electricity? as a significant option for the future of heating UK homes, for a BEAMA group like TEHVA (The Electric Heating and Ventilation Association), the outlook is generally positive. The government will be conducting ?further work into the policy options available to reduce the carbon impact of heat and its use in order to determine a strategy for heat?.

With energy regulator Ofgem?s probable new role analysing the long-term energy outlook and addressing concerns about security of supply, this presents a further opportunity for BEAMA to communicate the need for initiatives such as lowcarbon milestones.

Replacing the Energy Efficiency Commitment (EEC), a statutory consultation on a new Carbon Emission Reduction Target (CERT) for energy suppliers (2008), is an opportunity to highlight investment in micro-generation as an attractive option.

The association is focused on ensuring the government honours its commitment to pursuing electric heating as a prime option for heating UK homes rather than other options for reducing emissions from heating in general. Communicating electric heating?s cost effectiveness over other sources, its energy efficiency, the role of lowcarbon milestones, the benefits of maximising micro-generation through CERT, are all a crucial part of the strategy.

BEAMA?s message is clear ? ?electric heating is very much alive and well and playing a key role in the move to the low-carbon economy?.


The Energy White Paper provides the long-term framework for ensuring the UK meets the challenges of climate change and in securing affordable future energy supplies. To help individuals understand the link between their actions, carbon dioxide emissions and climate change, the government has committed to give householders direct access to displays enabling them to monitor energy use. The next decade will see this being achieved (subject to trial results) by all domestic energy customers having Smart meters featuring realtime information visual displays. This will allow communication between the meter, energy supplier and customer.

The Smart meter solution is a further field in which BEAMA, via metering/communications groups ESMA (European Smart Metering Alliance) and BEMCA, has considerable expertise. It?s long been active developing appropriate technologies ? communicating their benefits. The intention is eventually for real-time displays to be provided with new meters fitted, including for every new-build property. The government expects suppliers to roll out Smart meters when cost effective to do so and is consulting on the implementation of these proposals.

Also, householders? bills will show historic energy consumption. It?s estimated these proposals on Smart meters/billing will deliver annual savings of up to 0.4 MtC (mega tonnes of carbon) by 2010, and 0.5 MtC by 2020. The White Paper emphasises that Smart metering is key to the overall development of the energy market in the domestic and business arenas, particularly in allowing more sophisticated import and export tariffs to be introduced. BEAMA is working with government to amend its plans in allowing a sustainable roll-out of Smart metering equipment with customer displays.


BEAMA manages product groups/associations encompassing controls, metering, energyrelated communications, electrical heating and ventilation, water controls and treatment products. Each group is a recognised sector expert. This ability has influenced several government policies resulting in legislation creating considerable benefits for members, consumers and the environment.

Much work addresses future government policies relating to climate change, increased industry globalisation and consumer safety. If correctly implemented in appropriate sustainable ways, these will create many more opportunities for British manufacturers. To achieve these aims, BEAMA uses its influence and extensive contact network with the utilities and UK government (particularly regarding the Building Regulations), Ofgem and with the European Commission.

With emphasis on low carbon and energy efficiency, the future environment for BEAMA members will be increasingly dominated by innovation in product design, management and manufacturing processes. Developing innovative products is the best way to counter products from low-cost markets, leading to significant benefits.

There are several sectors where innovations are now in the marketplace:

Smart metering ? with government highlighting its benefits, set to become the new energyefficiency measure, as manufacturers develop innovative designs and energy usage measurement, transmitting it to utility companies, and presenting energy use data to consumers.

Advanced heating controls ? controls are now standard for heating systems in most British homes, but more advanced controls systems are evolving, allowing a better match between the heat required, which is often dictated by the householder and the operation of modern boilers. With these new products BEAMA controls members believe increased savings of around 10% can be achieved.

Smart housing products/services ? encompass Smart metering and advanced controls, but extend to other areas of the home. Lowcost devices monitor an appliance?s electrical energy use, displaying this information to the utility?s customer.

Smart security products ? these ensure homes are safe and secure, while care of the elderly/disabled can be significantly improved by Smart housing products, benefiting individuals, as well as local health authority budgets.


BEAMA is the UK trade body for manufacturers of electrical equipment and cable management products. It represents the interests of companies with a combined turnover of £900m, 25% of which is exports. Its product groups wield considerable influence over international product standards, so members can develop new products knowing future changes to standards will not invalidate them.

Anti-counterfeiting campaigns (especially in China) are increasingly recognised as the most effective route for member companies to reduce the negative impact on business of counterfeit products.

Innovations in this sector include Smart housing activities focusing on:

  • Integration of household renewables into the electrical installations of buildings of all types ? a key requirement for the future of low-carbon technologies.
  • Installation safety needs continuous development of innovative wiring and power management products. BEAMA members are in discussions with suppliers of small-scale renewables to ensure customers always receive a safe, effective installation.
  • Distribution of power from renewables is also being addressed, including potential use of low-voltage DC cabling.
  • Other innovations include products allowing energy savings via automatic switch-off of standbys on electrical appliances (only standby is on the distribution unit, but it can still be switched on remotely).


BEAMA?s Power sector group is involved with the plans to decarbonise power production, distribution and transmission. Several product developments can deliver the more efficient management of high-voltage loads. However, a growing concern is lack of skilled labour required for the realisation of the necessary investments by the energy utilities. This issue may be even more significant should Smart networks become a reality in the UK.

Smart networks enable intelligent management of power, particularly in local networks and locally, decentralised energy production. Such systems use similar technical approaches to Smart metering, but in local substations. The use of communications around these network types, as well as the agreement of communications mediums and protocols, will be of considerable importance.

BEAMA is creating a consortium to work with government in addressing the technical requirements for the introduction of renewables across local networks, commercial and domestic buildings.


In today?s global 24/7 environment, dramatic fastmoving changes are to be expected. The future of UK manufacturing is being re-shaped by energy policy and its role as a catalyst for product/service innovation in the worldwide market. At the June 2007 G8 meeting, the participating governments finally acknowledged the impact of carbon emissions on climate change, global warming, and the potentially harmful effects of human action on mankind?s future and our planet itself.

As the national grouping of 14 sectors, representing 350 UK companies supplying the UK and world energy markets, BEAMA?s views and actions concerning the development of government energy policy in a low-carbon-driven world are vital for the industry?s future.

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For BEAMA?s White Paper, visit:

Added the 10 September 2008 in category Innovation UK Vol4-1

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