11 July 2023

75% of European SMEs want a rapid switch to renewable energy to escape fossil fuel costs, new poll reveals

BERLIN, 11 JULY 2023 – Over half of European small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) think their country’s dependency on fossil fuels is behind business-threatening energy bills, and want investments in renewable energy programmes to help them generate their own power, according to new polling published today by Beyond Fossil Fuels

The research, conducted by YouGov in Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, and Poland, reveals that two-thirds of SMEs have been forced to increase the price of their goods and services in response to high, volatile energy costs, and they are already turning to renewable power and energy efficiency solutions to protect themselves [1].

SMEs account for two-thirds of private sector jobs and contribute to more than half of the total added value created by businesses in the EU alone [2]. Most say they have fought hard to shield their workforce from layoffs but are clear that increased energy bills are eroding their profits and productivity. Three out of four are ready to take advantage of the energy transition if they are given support and administrative barriers are removed.

Duygu Kutluay, Campaigner at Beyond Fossil Fuels said: “Small and medium-sized enterprises are the lifeblood of Europe’s economy, igniting innovation, leading job creation, and nurturing the vibrancy of our communities. They have been battered by high energy costs courtesy of volatile fossil fuels. The message from this polling is clear: SMEs want significant investment in local renewable energy projects, support to help them generate their own power, and removal of administrative barriers so they can get on with deploying solutions to build resilience and revitalise their businesses.

Véronique Willems, Secretary General at SMEUnited, the European association of crafts and SMEs said: “Rising energy costs created a severe challenge for our SME’s survival and growth. Many are at the forefront of Europe’s transition to a sustainable economy and develop their own local renewable energy supplies. However, too often they encounter bureaucratic barriers and lack vital support. For SMEs, it is crucial to get impartial technical assistance, clear technology neutral solutions and support, such as within the Corporate Covenant for Climate & Energy to get energy bills down [3].”

Luca Iacoboni, Head of Outreach and Strategy for Decarbonization at Italian climate change think tank, ECCO said: “Italy has been hit hard by the fossil energy crisis due to our outsized reliance on fossil gas. Three-quarters of Italian SMEs faced a huge increase in costs and have had to increase their prices as a result, with far-reaching consequences for their competitiveness. According to the poll, Italian SMEs see renewables and energy efficiency as the key pillars for the future of the Italian energy system, with which their competitiveness as well as support to the low-income population can be ensured. The revision of the National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP), currently in progress all over Europe, is a crucial step and will be very instructive of whether Italy wants to stick to its reliance on gas imports or prefers to seriously pursue energy security through a more sustainable path.

Patryk Białas, member of Polish NGO, BoMiasto said: “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has had a deep and lasting impact on Polish society. Poles have raced to install solar and heat pumps in record numbers to eliminate the aggressors’ fossil fuels. Sadly, over half of SMEs in Poland have been forced to lay off staff due to surging energy bills. We urgently need to see the public’s appetite for renewables reflected among decision-makers to protect Polish businesses and livelihoods.”  

Contacts:

Alastair Clewer, Senior Communications Manager, Europe Beyond Coal
[email protected], +49 176 433 07 185

Natalia Richardson, SMEunited Press & Communication Officer
[email protected], +32 2 285 0718

Notes:

  1. Renewable Energy as a Path to Resilience: SME Perspectives on the Energy Crisis https://beyondfossilfuels.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/BFF_SME-EnergyCostsSurvey_Final.pdf
    Most SMEs report they have taken action on energy savings, with 24% using smart measures, while an additional 20% say they are considering implementing such measures in the next 12 months. This number could increase to 72% if incentives are offered and barriers removed. 40% of SMEs surveyed also say they have installed solar panels, or are considering installing them, in the next 12 months, but this number rises to 75% when they can access support measures and if administrative barriers are lifted.

Just removing barriers could increase the number of SMEs that deploy solutions by 10-14%, and additional support would increase this number again by 17-26%

Removing administrative barriers and the provision of incentives create the biggest increase in consideration of heat pumps (40% increase). Power purchase agreements and multi buyer consortiums score lower compared to other solutions as a driver of the energy transition for SMEs (only above heat pumps) and they can also become widely popular (65%) with support and lifting of barriers.

  1. European Parliament, 2023. Fact Sheets on the European Union, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises), accessible at: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/factsheets/en/sheet/63/small-and-medium-sized-enterprises,  last accessed: 04/07/2023
  2. Corporate Covenant for Climate & Energy https://covenant-of-companies.ec.europa.eu/index_en 

About: 

Beyond Fossil Fuels is a collective civil society campaign committed to ensuring all of Europe’s electricity is generated from fossil-free, renewable energy by 2035. It expands and builds upon the Europe Beyond Coal campaign, and its goal of a coal-free Europe in power and heat by 2030 at the latest. www.beyondfossilfuels.org

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