Tuesday 24 December 2013

I was tempted to write one of those humourous Christmas blogs like “how much energy has been saved by switching to LED Christmas lights” or “how much energy does Santas sleigh use” but in the end decided to finish my first year of blogging with something more serious – my Christmas wish list.

All I really want for Christmas (apart from my Amazon wish list), is a sensible and honest energy policy for the UK.


What might such a policy look like?


First of all energy policy has to openly address the interlinked set of problems we are facing: rapidly declining continental shelf oil and gas production, worsening energy security, shrinking electricity supply margin, the need to invest in new generating and transmission systems, increasing energy prices and lack of consumer trust in energy companies, the cost and intermittent nature of renewables, the high cost of nuclear, and the fact that the electricity regulation framework is no longer fit for purpose for the new energy world.  Political and corporate leaders need to unequivocally acknowledge the problems and realistically assess the options for mitigating them.


Political leaders should understand and explicitly say that energy efficiency is one of the best (cheapest, cleanest and fastest to deploy) and largest energy resources we have. This isn’t about saying blah blah blah blah about energy supply and then adding some nice words like “and of course we should not forget energy efficiency“.  They should recognise the facts that over the last forty years energy efficiency has delivered more energy services than any other source of energy.


Then we need to enact the following policies.


  • It should be mandatory that every time someone proposes building new energy supply facilities – of whatever technology – they should have to explicitly and independently assess options to improve efficiency, comparing returns, risks and delivery times.


  • The regulatory framework should be changed to incentivise Distribution Network Operators to evaluate demand side measures as an alternative to expanding supply options and require them to invest in the demand side option if it has equal or better returns.


  • Electricity generation should be separated from energy supply.


  • The smart meter programme should be refocused on improving the metering of the distribution system.  Smart meters are an important piece of infrastructure but in its current form the roll-out of residential meters does not have a value proposition for the consumer.


  • All subsidies and tax breaks for the development and deployment all types of energy should be phased out in no more than ten years.  A step-down schedule for each subsidy and tax break should be announced and stuck to.


  • There should be a doubling in R&D in energy technologies and private sector R&D should be encouraged by favourable tax treatment.


  • Require all buildings to display Display Energy Certificates.


  • Require all commercial building owners to make their energy use publicly available on-line.


  • Require firms to report on energy efficiency opportunities identified by ESOS scheme surveys.


  • The various schemes such as CRC, ESOS etc should be radically simplified so that energy managers can concentrate more time on developing projects and less on completing forms for government.


  • Require suppliers to government to have ISO50001.


  • The government should show leadership by launching a series of large-scale, multi-premise Energy Performance Contracts (EPCs) covering multiple central government buildings and facilities across geographical regions.  Funding could either be on the public budget or from private sources – the conditions would be that the deals are cash flow positive, utilise integrative design techniques, guaranteed by credible Energy Service Companies and have independent Measurement and Verification.  The results and the contracts should be available on-line to encourage greater use of EPC in the public sector.


Well, we can all dream about what we want for Christmas!


By the way, I was still wondering how much energy converting all our Christmas tree lights to LEDs would, or perhaps already has, saved.  By my calculations, if used universally on the UK’s 7 million domestic Christmas trees LEDs would reduce load by about 260MW and save about 29,000MWh of electricity compared to old fashioned fairy lights, with a value to consumers of c.£4m.  And as for the energy used by Santa’s sleigh the answer is clearly a very big number.


Merry Christmas and have a healthy, happy and successful energy efficient New Year.



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Dr Steven Fawkes

Welcome to my blog on energy efficiency and energy efficiency financing. The first question people ask is why my blog is called 'only eleven percent' - the answer is here. I look forward to engaging with you!

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