I’d be the first to regret the electoral demise of Ed Davey, who I felt had a great handle on the energy brief coming into the election. Having heard Ed speak several times, his grasp of the current energy issues was coherent and practical.
Where he fell – and perhaps it was a national party symptom – was in being a Liberal Democrat with a constant contradiction between pragmatic energy policies and beliefs and his wider political views which didn’t accord with the British public.
Having said that, the new Energy Secretary Amber Rudd will need to convince policy proposals are in line with public expectations and indeed with what they can afford. Is this a naïve expectation?
Where should the focus be aimed?
There has been a major – and possibly flawed – focus on reducing the carbon intensity of generation. This includes the subsidy of previously anathema technologies like nuclear as well as the de facto renewables which may or may not make sense and over which much emotional IP has been expended.
Energy-saving: A no-brainer
What has palpably been missed, by a country mile, was the massive and ongoing benefits of reducing energy demand. In comparative financial terms the sums are not only compelling but, in latter day parlance, constitute a total no-brainer. Why invest in renewable or localised generation at an ROI of 8-10% when energy efficiency investment will reap some 40-50%?
Focus has to be on reducing demand and even more importantly moving demand away from peak periods when costs and marginal generation issues are at a maximum.
Market split – Domestic and I&C
The I&C market is fairly well targeted through schemes such as ESOS though the SME market is lagging well behind and has to be considered a forward priority. The domestic market has been an abject failure and presents massive potential by revisiting the sentiments behind the Green Deal and making the whole package work.
Most important of all for the new Government is to incentivise energy reduction at all levels and across all sectors. The benefits for all participants are huge whether commercial or domestic and will create far more jobs than the supply side could ever contemplate. The savings in renewing infrastructure at both a local and national level will be significant and will translate into ongoing savings for end users.
Long term energy plan
Most importantly, there should be a long term national energy plan with clear objectives governing both supply and demand side of the equation.
Consultation and quangos may be a thing of the past as the energy sector cries out for decisiveness and well-constructed debates and outcomes which have been notable by their absence despite the significant efforts of Ed Davey and others over recent years.
Mervyn Bowden is the Managing Director of Intuitive Energy Solutions Ltd.