With the government driving through initiatives and continued debates around green investment, 2012 was certainly a year of transition for green energy.
However, with the recently announced funding for the Green Deal communications plan and the energy bill announcement, Brian Smithers, director, Rexel UK, predicts an exciting new chapter for the industry in 2013 – and underlines four key areas.
1. 2013 is the year that the average business has to get to grips with its energy consumption
Time for inaction has passed, and organisations of all sizes are starting to consider ways to cut their electricity bills. The recent energy bill announcement will help support this momentum. Ed Davey was spot-on to highlight that cutting the amount of electricity used in Britain’s businesses and industry will be much cheaper than investing in power plants to supply it. Incentives such as the plans to pay companies for each kilowatt hour of electricity they save will certainly encourage innovation and behaviour change.
However, unless monitoring energy use becomes standard practise, it will be impossible for businesses to understand where the biggest wins can be made. Businesses are starting to become more aware of the tools available for measuring and managing energy use more efficiently and the benefits that can be achieved from investing in these. Nevertheless, we are only at the start of the journey and businesses will need more encouragement and support from the industry before these tools and technologies are understood and adopted universally.
2. Public awareness of energy efficiency technologies will be driven by the energy bill
The British public is relatively unaware of energy saving technologies. The energy efficiency information ‘hub’ described in the Energy Bill will be key to educating consumers and businesses alike about the benefits of energy efficient technologies, including LED lighting, automation and efficient heating. However, we can’t just leave this to the energy suppliers. The industry as a whole must work together to ensure that Britain really understands how to reduce its energy use.
3. This is the year people will start to believe in the Green Deal
Support for the Green Deal has got off to a sluggish start, with lack of awareness being the major stumbling block. A recent Rexel survey has found that a huge 96% of Brits have never heard of or do not understand the Green Deal. However, DECC recently announced that it had secured £2.9m to advertise and raise awareness of the scheme in the new year which should help build further understanding.
Once the big contracts start coming through, confidence in the Green Deal will grow. Seeing real life examples and success stories will give this important incentive a much needed boost.
4. Q1 2013 will see a surge of large scale PV installations
The Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC), the commercial equivalent of the Feed-in-Tariff (FiT), will start to be reduced from April this year. Similar to the phenomenon experienced at the beginning of 2012 as a result of the predicted cut in FiTs, this is likely to prompt a rush of projects as people try to get in ahead of the deadline.
The knock-on effect of the ROC reduction is that the green energy industry will have to work harder than ever to demonstrate that solar still yields good ROI and is a strong long term investment.