In response to the introduction of the Energy Bill, Stuart Thorogood, president of Schneider Electric UK & Ireland commented.
“The Energy Bill, as expected, has been met with a mix of views and opinions. In the journey toward a low carbon economy Ed Davey, energy minister, set out what he called the biggest transformation to Britain’s electricity market since privatisation.
“I can well believe that this is the case, but it has been a long time coming and may have jeopardised a huge amount of potential investment throughout the UK in the process. With growing uncertainty across industry and lack of government confidence, industry has paid the ultimate cost with the loss of assurances within the market place.
“It’s refreshing therefore that the Energy Bill touches on so many different aspects of the energy market, aiming to boost confidence and encourage future investment.
“I am entirely supportive of the government’s drive for a balanced energy portfolio but do feel, as many in the industry might, that a renewed interest in gas is a potentially dangerous scenario and could risk placing the UK at the mercy of political border games.
“The importance of the energy mix cannot be underestimated and I can only perhaps conclude that in the last chance saloon, the government has realised that gas is the quickest, simplest and ultimately cheapest means of keeping the UK’s lights on. It’s just a shame that this realisation didn’t happen sooner at the detriment of other generation technologies.
“The cost of the government’s plans will of course be placed onto the Energy Bill but the additional exemptions and incentives proposed are a nice touch. By now it is painfully obvious that we not only need to secure our energy supplies and keep energy affordable, but also reduce emissions. At a time when 40% of businesses state that their growth has been adversely affected due to rising energy bills, the best way to achieve this is to reduce our overall consumption and incentivising energy reduction may be the key to this.
“Energy efficiency in homes and businesses alike is the only sure fire way that consumers can reduce their energy bills over the longer term and there are tools available to help them in this process. From a full energy audit and energy monitoring solutions, to high efficiency boilers and heating controls or even renewable technologies, the tools are available within the market place to help consumers increase efficiencies. Financial incentives will certainly help in this process and are a welcome addition to energy policy.
“Furthermore I think it only right that large energy intensive industries are exempt from the increases. Much of the commentary has failed to recognise the other restrictions and costs incurred by businesses such as the Carbon Reduction Commitment. Rightly so, we need to be able to support industry in the UK, to avoid companies being forced to relocate overseas, taking the investment and jobs with them and further slowing economic growth.
“Crucially, the energy bill highlights the importance of investment and energy efficiency going hand in hand. Reducing energy demand will ultimately mean that the UK can build fewer power stations to provide for consumer’s needs, resulting in lower energy bills over the longer term.
“To conclude, I believe the figures speak for themselves. McKinsey Management Consultancy has suggested the potential for the UK to reduce energy demand by as much as 26% by 2030. In real terms that is the equivalent amount of energy generated by nine power stations every year. Need I say more? The future is one featuring a broad energy mix, where the term ‘energy efficiency’ is no longer an empty statement, but a pressing reality.”