Sustainability and renewables


With the impact of climate change and the ongoing instability of energy costs, many businesses are looking to introduce or are already in the process of developing sustainability initiatives, including renewable energy solutions.

Along with the positive effects of implementing any change in to a workplace, there may also be negative or unintended consequences that need to be considered, as well as the possible impact of relevant regulation.

Emerging and rapidly developing technologies often present additional hazards, with regulation and approved standards struggling to keep pace.

This section covers a range of sustainability and renewable topics, providing risk management guidance and otherwise best practice to maintain a resilient and safe business.    

There are risk topics not detailed here that affect all businesses, including fire risk assessment, health and safety policy and people management.
BESS, also known as Electrical Energy (Battery) Storage systems or ‘solar batteries’, are becoming increasingly popular in residential and commercial buildings, as well as for commercial enterprises generating energy for onward sale.

Generally used with photovoltaic (PV) solar installations, or with other renewable sources of energy, these systems include battery banks to store the energy generated until required.

There are many different types of BESS available, of varying chemistry and size, each with their own particular features and considerations, and suitability to any given application; lithium iron phosphate for example. Other sections on lithium-ion batteries, PV/solar, and wind are also relevant to this topic.

A combined heat and power system (CHP) uses residual heat or steam, produced by generating electricity through a gas turbine or reciprocating engine, to provide an energy source for a process or facility. Such systems can either be designed and supplied as a complete installation (‘packaged’) or ‘custom’ built to specification, and can provide significant efficiency savings whilst also reducing carbon emissions. 

For businesses running or planning to install a CHP unit, there are specific risk considerations to be aware of, along with associated risk management controls such as engine / turbine type, design, location, heat exchange / transfer systems, fuel type (varies from fossil to renewable based), delivery and storage. 

According to The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), with the continued growth in electric vehicles it’s predicted that one battery electric car will be registered every 40 seconds in the UK by the end of 2024.

Electric vehicles present quite different risks to the traditional internal combustion engine for the driver, fleet operator, servicing / maintenance technician, recovery operator or premises owner providing charging facilities. There is a need to be aware of these differences, the hazards that may be presented and the risk management controls that can be put in place.

Hydrogen, whether in a liquefied or gaseous form, has been in use for many years across a number of industries, and the hazards and required control measures are well understood.

However, with the UK Government seeing Hydrogen as an important fuel source to achieve ‘net zero’ by 2050, its increased and more widespread use in power, heat, and transport applications is inevitable.

Potentially, this may result in new ‘risk’ challenges around use, storage, transportation and handling, along with the necessary development of suitable safety measures.

Lithium-ion batteries are more powerful than many other types of batteries and capable of fast charging, making them ideal for powering lots of different types of products.

While lithium-ion batteries can be used as part of a sustainable solution, it’s important to understand the potential risk challenges around use, charging, storage and handling.

Although lithium-ion batteries have been in use for many years, energy density has increased considerably, making the consequences more severe in the event of a fire or explosion for example.

Standards and regulations have been slow to catch up, while the use of these batteries is now commonplace.

‘Net zero’ is the term used to describe the state in which all greenhouse gasses entering and exiting the atmosphere are balanced.

Many businesses are looking for ways to incorporate net zero or further develop their net zero journey. Explore the key considerations and information to create and develop a net zero business.

Solar power has been a popular green energy source over many years, whether generating power solely for individual residential or commercial premises, or as a commercial enterprise with large-scale energy ‘farm’ generation for onward sale.

There are several different types of system, whether, for example, as a retrofit to existing buildings, or an integral wall / roof design, or ground mounted standalone systems.

Whether looking to take advantage of cheaper electricity and/or a greener option, it’s important to understand the potential risks and associated risk management measures to maintain a safe environment for employees, visitors and maintenance contractors for example, as well as a resilient business.

In addition, battery energy storage systems (BESS) may form part of the installation to store the energy generated until required, either for powering a business or for onward sale.

There are many different wind generated energy devices and systems available, of varying complexity and size, each with their own particular features and considerations, and suitability to any given application; whether on shore, off shore or roof mounted for example.

Key risk considerations centre on the age of the equipment, wind speed, severe weather implications, suitable and sufficient maintenance programmes, potential for cable theft, and end of life recycling.

In addition, battery energy storage systems may form part of the installation to store the energy generated until required, either for powering a business or for onward sale.