As we sift through the conveyor belt of crazy news headlines, the major issue that is affecting all of us is the cost of living and the energy crisis. Whether you are a homeowner or a business, you cannot have escaped the fact that keeping your lights on, your rooms warm and the factories functioning is getting very expensive.

Homeowners are protected to some degree by the energy price cap, but businesses are not. They have been feeling the full effect of energy price increases. This includes Pilkington, which, according to a report in the St Helens Star, has seen their monthly energy bills shoot through the roof.

Calls to help Pilkington and glass industry

Running a factory making glass, as if you needed reminding, consumes a lot of energy. It’s an expensive process and a very energy-intensive one at that. The report in the St Helens Star claims that Pilkington’s monthly energy bills have risen from £1m per month to a staggering £8m per month. That is an eight-fold increase in what is a relatively short period of time.

Here are some of the key extracts from the report:

Due to the recent energy crisis, St Helens South & Whiston MP Marie Rimmer explained that this has resulted in Pilkington’s bills increasing from an average of £1million per month to over £8million…

Industrial companies like Pilkington have been particularly impacted as they use large amounts of energy to manufacture their products, and are facing mounting financial problems with the rising bills.

Calling Pilkington “part of the furniture” in St Helens, Marie Rimmer MP said that the glass industry is losing out on business to European competitors which are receiving support from their own respective governments.

She has pointed out in a speech in Parliament that the glass used in that very building was made by Pilkington and has been part of the global glass sector for 200 years. She has reiterated calls for support for factories and manufacturers to help shield them from incredibly steep rises in energy costs. Labour is proposing a £600m fund to support energy-intensive factories, such as glass factories, to ensure they don’t fall deeper into trouble.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been consulting with MP’s and business leaders on how best to address the growing crisis. Time however is of the essence and it’s clear from this report that companies like Pilkington and many others are already under major strain from rising energy bills.

You can read the full St Helens Star report here:

Marie Rimmer is asking for support “before it’s too late”, indicating that the situation may be precarious for a number of companies. Whether this includes Pilkington is not clear. It may also be colourful language used to help push for further progress on the issue.

What we do know is that the rising cost of energy is quickly becoming a massive issue for manufacturers and that included manufacturers in the fenestration sector. Whether is PVCu or aluminium fabrication, glass production or any other form of manufacturing, keeping a fenestration factory going is expensive. This will also have a wider impact on the entire sector. Even if the prices of raw materials stabilise this year if energy prices keep rising this will keep costs at the installer level rising too.

Near the end of last year, Pilkington reintroduced energy surcharges based on the price of oil. It is conceivable that energy surcharges are going to rise significantly over the coming months to compensate for high energy costs. It’s also important to remember that what Pilkington is going through now is what other major glassmakers such as Saint-Gobain and Guardian Glass will also be going through.

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