The North East of England Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC) recently gathered five industry experts for a roundtable discussion on the rising energy costs in the UK.

Over 40 process industry business representatives assembled to hear from the Chemical Industries Association, px Energy Solutions, Sembcorp, Alpek Polyester and Womble Bond Dickinson.

The virtual event was organised to explain the Government’s new Energy Bill Relief Scheme (EBRS), which aims to support businesses with the escalating cost of energy use and protect against the increasing price of wholesale energy.

The panel advised that it is potentially beneficial for businesses who are on existing fixed term contracts, agreed on or after 1 April 2022 to remain on them, and those not, to sign up to a new fixed price contract, to ensure they are eligible to receive the benefits of the EBRS.

It was highlighted how companies with more complex arrangements may find it more difficult to secure a fixed term contract and larger businesses were advised to work with their suppliers to manage the overall risk.

Experts also touched on implications for sectors throughout the process industry, as it was noted that any energy which spills back onto the grid, will not be eligible to receive the EBRS benefits.

Commenting on the panel discussion, Philip Aldridge, CEO at NEPIC said: “We are the largest process industry cluster in the UK and, unfortunately in this situation, one of the most energy intensive.

“The rising energy costs are detrimental to the viability of our sector; the purpose of the roundtable was to help our members understand how they can benefit most from the new Government support.”

Partner in the Global Business Team and head of manufacturing at Womble Bond Dickinson, Peter Snaith, is a board member at NEPIC.

He said: “In these unprecedented times, the rising cost of energy is at the forefront of the conversation for many businesses. While it is extremely positive to see the Government’s support for businesses, in order to tackle this issue at its root cause, home grown energy absolutely needs to be the focus. Debating this on a regional level with exploratory conversations on how process industries in the North East can maximise support was hugely insightful for both the panellists and attendees alike – hopefully everyone involved came away feeling more positive about the outlook for the region and wider UK because of it.”

During the session, energy users were told to be confident that their energy suppliers will pass on the scheme’s benefits to customers, as it is believed the UK Government is observing this closely.

As the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy are currently monitoring and reviewing the scheme, NEPIC encourages businesses to keep referring to the guidance for future updates, which can be found here: www.gov.uk/guidance/energy-bill-relief-scheme-help-for-businesses-and-other-non-domestic-customers