Just 651 companies have registered as participants for the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme as of 5 July, well below the 5,000 that the Environment Agency is expecting.

The scheme raises issues on IT usage, in particular datacentres, which use large amounts of power.

All public and private sector organisations that had at least one half-hourly electricity meter during 2008 have got until 30 September 2010 to register with the Environment Agency under the CRC scheme, which came into force on 1 April.

While the Environment Agency believes that 20,000 large organisations satisfy this criterion, and therefore should register, it only expects 5,000 of these organisations to register as 'participants' in the scheme.

Participants are organisations that consumed at least 6,000 megawatt hours of electricity through all of their meters during 2008, which is equivalent to an electricity bill of around £500,000, and are required to participate in the scheme by monitoring their energy consumption and purchasing allowances.

The CRC scheme raises certain issues for organisations, including how to use IT to measure their impact on the environment. To this end, a new Green XML data exchange standard being developed by the Business Application Software Developer's Association, is being launched for public consultation at the first Business of Biodiversity Symposium tomorrow.

In addition to the 651 registered participants, the Environment Agency said that 242 non-corporate information declarers and 2,980 corporate information declarers had so far signed up. However, this means that 16,127 organisations still have to register in some way.

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said: "Registration rates for both participants and information declarers are in line with our expectations.

"When we introduce new regulations we often find that organisations register towards the back end of the registration window. The number of enquiries we are handling at the helpdesk shows that organisations are preparing to register."

Eligible organisations who do not register by the deadline will be fined £5,000, plus an additional £500 per day for each subsequent working day they fail to register up to a maximum of 80 working days.

The spokesperson added: "Participants successful in reducing energy consumption will not only save money on energy bills, they will also receive financial incentives and boost their reputation as an environmentally-conscious organisation. These savings should be well in excess of the costs of participating in the scheme."