Alan Whitehead, MP for Southampton Test, asks why energy efficiency is missing from the draft Energy Bill
The committee on climate change’s latest report reveals how much more we will have to do to meet our CO2 emissions targets.
Given this, you might expect to see some stern demand-reduction measures and incentives in the new Energy Bill currently being looked at in draft form by the energy and climate change committee prior to its passage through parliament next year.
The Bill, which is to be the main measure to push the energy market into low-carbon mode, focuses on how we meet the requirements of more capacity and is surprisingly shy on detail about the imperative of demand reduction.
As a member of the committee, I will be looking to see how the legislation might incentivise demand management by redistributing variable power, such as wind generated when not needed, through interconnectors to the continent so that we can share demand two ways. I also hope to see support for new electricity storage capacity, such as pumped hydro, which can store and supply electricity for when it is most needed.
But demand management is not necessarily demand reduction. What we should be incentivising is permanent energy-use reduction through what might be called demand-side feed-in tariffs. These require an aggregator to manage the process and ensure efficient recording of “start dates” for energy reduction. Capacity-reduction rewards then follow on from the remeasurement of consumption on a regular basis.
A recent report from Green Alliance estimates that using incentives to cut demand still works out three times cheaper than paying for the equivalent in additional generation.
We will have to wait and see whether any demand-management and reduction incentives make it into the final Energy Bill. If they don’t, we will have missed an opportunity to really lower carbon emissions through not emitting them at all.