More than half of Europe’s small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) believe their countries’ dependency on fossil fuels is the root of their crippling energy bills, and want renewable energy investment to help them generate their own power, according to new research from Berlin-based campaign group Beyond Fossil Fuels.

The survey – conducted by YouGov in the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland – found that two-thirds of SMEs have had to increase their prices because of rising energy costs and are already turning to renewable power and energy efficiency to protect themselves.

In the EU, SMEs account for two-thirds of private sector jobs and half of the total added value created by businesses. Most report they are trying to avoid layoffs but their high energy bills are eating away at their profits and productivity. Three-quarters are ready to take advantage of the energy transition if they are given support and administrative barriers are removed.

“Small- and medium-sized enterprises are the lifeblood of Europe’s economy, igniting innovation, leading job creation, and nurturing the vibrancy of our communities,” said Duygu Kutluay, campaigner at Beyond Fossil Fuels in a press statement. “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.”

“Rising energy costs created a severe challenge for our SMEs’ survival and growth. Many are at the forefront of Europe’s transition to a sustainable economy and develop their own local renewable energy supplies,” added Véronique Willems, secretary-general at SMEUnited, the European association of crafts and SMEs. “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.”

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By GlobalData