“The most ambitious package of energy measures in a decade”, according to a government press release. “A missed opportunity”, according to many green groups. What is the truth about the government’s Energy Security Bill, currently making its way through Parliament?
The Energy Security Bill started life in the House of Lords in July 2022, the month that saw the UK pay the highest price ever recorded for electricity, just to keep London’s lights on during a heatwave. The same month saw fears over access to Russian gas through the Nord Stream pipeline and government planning for a tough winter. Add the cost-of-living crisis to the mix and it is clear that action on energy security is desperately needed.
Ambition and investment
The government first set out its clean energy ambitions in the Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, published November 2020. The Energy Security Strategy, published in April 2022, reinforced the main goals of the Ten Point Plan: boosting wind power capacity, exploring the potential of hydrogen and beginning a new era of nuclear.
The aim of the Energy Security Bill seems to be the creation of a regulatory landscape that will support innovation and investment while leaving in place vital safety measures. For example:
- The introduction of competition for onshore electricity networks could encourage investment in wind power while cutting costs for consumers.
- New rules on the licensing of carbon transport and storage could create more market interest in “blue” hydrogen, supporting the “twin track” focus of the Hydrogen Strategy.
- New powers for the Secretary of State to fund hydrogen production and carbon capture infrastructure will also boost hydrogen production.
- Amends to the rules about delicensing and reusing nuclear sites are intended to make it less onerous to build and operate new nuclear facilities.
- Increased third-party liability for nuclear incidents is presumably intended to reduce public opposition to new nuclear.
What about the demand side?
The Energy Security Bill is heavily focused on securing access to sources of energy. But many groups, including Citizens Advice and the CBI as well as environmental campaigners, have criticised it for ignoring the demand side, especially the “first fuel” of energy efficiency.
Globally, the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that prompt action on energy efficiency could cut world energy consumption by an amount equivalent to China’s entire power usage. It would also reduce demand to the point where Russian oil and gas are no longer needed. At a national level in the UK, energy efficiency measures would make a big difference to the looming heating crisis.
But the demand side isn’t just about reducing overall consumption. It is also about changing patterns of consumption. And this is another missing piece of the puzzle, not covered by the Bill. It is clear that the Bill was drafted with a belief in market-based solutions and opening up competition. But it fails to include end users in this brave new choice-driven world.
An energy security strategy that really encourages clean energy generation is one that allows customers to actively choose green energy.
An energy security strategy that really encourages clean energy generation is one that allows customers to actively choose green energy. These choice signals are vital for a thriving market in renewable power.
The Matcher: the missing piece of the puzzle
You can’t choose green energy in any meaningful way when you’re connected to the grid and don’t know the source of what’s coming down the wires. This is why ENTRNCE created the Matcher, a data technology platform that shows you exactly how well your energy consumption aligns with green generation. This kind of real-time data lets you make decisions about when to use energy-intensive machinery or charge up battery storage, and when to reduce consumption to a minimum.
The Matcher also has a future projection feature that allows you to model the potential impact of any changes you might make to the energy strategy of your business, whether that’s signing a new power purchase agreement or investing in storage.
This kind of data-driven decision-making from consumers can drive the UK’s green energy transition by supporting new renewables. But there is no need to hang around waiting for the government to recognise the importance of consumer choice. Businesses are already using the Matcher to transform their own energy strategies.
To see for yourself how the Matcher can help with your energy independence and net zero goals, why not book a free demonstration?