The Government’s latest Energy Tracker is out. What’s energising the UK public this year?

 

The Government surveys UK energy opinions every March, with three shorter surveys in June, September and December.

The trackers offer insights into UK energy issues among the public, providing fascinating glimpses into everyday understanding of energy. What do the latest numbers show?

The public’s views on energy

On energy security, levels of concern remain consistent with those a year ago, though they have decreased considerably since the last survey. Meanwhile, those of us who give genuine thought to saving energy remained very stable since last year.

On renewables and nuclear, renewables support has been consistently high, with 77% expressing support. The latest figures report 35% support nuclear energy with 21% opposed.

Elsewhere, relatively fewer people are worried about energy bills, and on suppliers and switching, numbers planning to switch energy supplier in the next year remained stable compared with last year.

Shale gas remains unpopular; 48% neither supported nor opposed it, but of those who did offer an opinion 33% opposed it, with 16% supportive.

The most common reason for supporting fracking was the need to use all available energy sources (42%).

Deeper insights

The proportion of people that like saving energy in the home remained very stable since last year. 23% claimed to give a lot of thought to saving energy at home, whilst half claimed to give it a fair amount of thought.

Worries over paying for energy bills have dropped to their lowest since the tracker began, with only 20% either very or fairly worried.

The level of worry was lowest among those with household incomes over £50,000 (12%), 16-24 year olds (13%) and social grade AB (14%). It was highest among social renters (27%), 45-54 year olds (27%) and those in social grade DE (26%).

On billing itself, we remain likely to trust suppliers to provide a bill which accurately reflects energy use (69%), and to provide a breakdown of the components of bills (70%).

The Energys opinion

“Energys welcomes every comprehensive UK energy survey; it’s essential to act on and understand data that shoes how consumers are reacting to energy issues,” says Kevin Cox, Managing Director, here at Energys Group.

“The Energys Group viewpoint remains that low carbon, energy efficient technology remains crucial to the UK’s energy futures. The megawatt that isn’t used is clearly the cheapest.

“If anything, we would like to see more questions on efficiency and low carbon. This would help spread awareness in addition to generating valuable insights.”

Click to find out more about Energys Group’s expertise in low carbon solutions.

5 things you need to know about the Ofgem Smart Systems Plan

Ofgem’s Smart Systems Plan is the latest salvo in a number of reports, which all highlight coming changes to UK energy, and attempt to set in place measures to bring us towards a more sustainable energy system.

But what essential changes are earmarked by Ofgem, and how might your businesses be affected?

1. New technologies are coming

Consensus is here, new tech will play a key role in tomorrow’s UK energy. That means understanding what such tech is, what it actually does, whether you can get involved with it, and what the opportunities are is key.

Energy storage is one top tech businesses could get to grips with. Ofgem promises it will play a vital part in the future.

But there are others. Renewable technologies across the board are big news. So are demand response innovations. These will provide and manage more and more UK power, and corporates should look at their portfolios and consider what scope is there for improvement and integration.

2. The flexible UK grid

All this technology is needed for one reason; we are switching to more flexible grid systems. In them, energy can be stored, renewables can provide a greater and greater supply; the simple, fossil based, always-on network is on the way out.

In future, demand and supply will be more intelligently managed. There will be more and more chances for UK firms to alter how and when they use, or supply energy, both to make money and to help the UK grid become better balanced, more resilient and more sustainable.

Smart metering, adaptive energy behaviours; all offer opportunity, but all must be learned and, if necessary, invested in.

3. Energy markets

It makes sense that with all these new technologies, and with a new type of grid system, the market mechanisms that relate to UK energy too must evolve.

So how companies access such markets, and how the overall costs of energy are determined, metered and paid for is changing. This is an essential area for businesses to understand as controlling energy costs is vital.

4. Regulation

Again, it makes sense that with such a shifting playing field, energy regulation must change. This might affect licensing and planning for renewables for example, or how connections are controlled and how charging is applied for energy storage.

Ofgem is looking at how to embed the most useful, fairest systems. Every business has to be aware of where the potential lies and the pitfalls to avoid.

5. Cash in hand

Finally, Ofgem notes that a study for the Government estimates the benefits of this new, smarter energy system to be up to £40 billion to 2050.

That’s a huge sum, and reveals why so much work is going into redeveloping our grid for the future. Every business deserves a chunk of that cash; so getting up to speed with the changes is urgent.

How will the Ofgem Smart Systems Plan affect your business? The Energys Group team would love to hear from you and have a conversation.

 

Energy policy, infrastructure, investment and the future; Energys Group supports aims of new Balfour Beatty report

Balfour Beatty is one of the UK’s top infrastructure providers. As such, it is expertly positioned to comment and lobby on measures required to maintain jobs, competitive industry and a burgeoning UK economy.

The firm’s latest report; ‘Infrastructure 2050 – Future Infrastructure Need,’ has much to say. Overarchingly, it seeks to influence future infrastructure and energy policy, highlighting UK skills shortages, an investment shortfall and economic uncertainty, plus Brexit, as just some of the obstacles to future prosperity.

The report in detail; energy

Balfour Beatty clearly believes that technology is key to the future. Its paper argues that smart technology in building design can help individuals control the space around them and the amount of energy they use.

This endorsement of energy efficiency is most welcome, but there is more. The firm says that a clear long-term vision for UK energy policy needs to be developed, agreed, communicated and retained to provide investors with certainty.

More specifically, the government should support the development of interconnectors, smart grids and smart networks and energy storage through the removal of regulatory barriers to develop markets, in order to help deliver £8bn a year savings to the UK consumer.

Evidently, Balfour considers the UK grid antiquated, and wants solutions fast. It says society will come more and more to demand intelligent infrastructure, which makes the most of energy generation and
distribution.

This will make our buildings smarter and offer up data to inform future decision making. But the implicit sense in the paper is that as a whole, the UK is as yet distant from reaching such goals.

Decarbonisation

Unsurprisingly, Balfour seeks a largely decarbonised energy system before the middle of the century, saying a continuous, reliable and low carbon energy supply is crucial for economic growth and stability as well as social well-being.

It predicts a worsening energy crunch by 2030 and is candid on today’s incoherent strategy, saying, ‘A clear long-term vision for UK energy policy needs to be developed and communicated to facilitate the hundreds of billions of pounds worth of investment in the energy supply infrastructure required by 2030.’

Balfour does praise recent decisions on an overall coal phase out, but argues such certainty is required across the energy policy and investment landscape.

The firm sees a burgeoning future for energy storage, saying it can be used to complement low carbon and renewable generation sources if utilised as a balancing mechanism and appropriately regulated, creating a multi-billion pound industry.

The sense within the paper as a whole is that there is hope out there, but appropriate actions are required fast, and today’s politics pose a risk to future readiness in energy.

The Energys response

“We welcome Balfour Beatty’s paper,” comments Kevin Cox, Managing Director, Energys Group. “The energy sections in particular show how world leading infrastructure providers are all coming to the same conclusion; energy efficiency and decarbonisation represent the future.

“Obviously, tough political times are here, and there are myriad challenges for today’s UK energy sector. To my mind, the paper points to one truth.

“If low carbon firms, centralised policy and the big infrastructure providers and operators come together, there is a chance not only to develop a prosperous UK, but one whose jobs and industries primarily create wealth from low carbon, not coal.

“The issue is we must start now. And all must pull together. Time is not available to waste.”

Energy Institute Report Highlights: Energy efficiency’s challenges and opportunities

000The Energy Institute (TEI) has produced its 2017 Barometer; analysing the pressure on UK energy efficiency. What’s TEI’s professional verdict on the next 12 months for low carbon?

What are 2017’s key challenges?

Energy policy, the investment environment and the need for energy system change are the main challenges for the energy industry in 2017, as identified by TEI members.

Uncertainties

Brexit and wider geopolitics could negatively impact efforts to develop a clear UK energy strategy, to update infrastructure, and to meet demand and climate targets at least cost to end users.

Brexit itself

Brexit is a vast concern to the sector. Negotiators must pay heed to energy policy, regulation and trade agreements, energy costs, and security of supply.

Free movement of labour is key, and skilled engineers and workers could be at a premium. Training and apprenticeships could help prevent a shortfall.

Great Repeal regulations should be informed by existing EU legislation, and continued cooperation with the EU is considered desirable.

UK energy policy

Uncertain energy policy is contributing to a risky investment climate, with immature low carbon technologies most affected. Tech readiness and markets are being harmed. Better business and academia links are needed.

Moderate price rises across primary and retail energy markets are coming in 2017, with exchange rates expected to have a greater influence than in previous years.

Transition to low carbon

The UK will likely fall short of its carbon targets through to 2050. Additional support for energy efficiency and renewables could help close the perceived carbon policy gap. That said, wider environmental concerns, falling technology costs, and rising energy costs are making efficiency more attractive.

Future energy will be more flexible and will involve system-level strategies and new business models. Grid updates, energy storage and new tech will change behaviours and shift consumer demand.

Financial incentives, mandatory standards and community engagement are seen as the best measures for reducing emissions.

Overall, decentralisation and new models will drive innovation, with new tech coming to suit the new direction.

And finally

TEI professionals expect that decarbonisation of the energy system will be the greatest change they witness over their careers. But it won’t come without its challenges, and its winners and losers.

Call us today for an informal chat about the ways Energys Group can help your business improve its low carbon. 

Election 2017 results: Energys analyses the implications for green legislation and low carbon

Election 2017 turned out to be a revelation, with the Conservative majority lost and a new power-brokering tightrope set to dominate Westminster.

In a hung Parliament, what will become of environmental, low carbon priorities? Here’s the opinion breakdown…

Could Brexit soften?

The Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) suggests a weak Conservative Government may end up negotiating a softer Brexit.

In its industry update, EIC argues this in turn could make it more likely that UK environmental law post-Brexit will mirror EU law indefinitely (the EU Parliament stated recently that full UK compliance with all EU environmental regulations is a non-negotiable part of any UK/EU trade deal).

So, Election 2017 could increase certainty in some environmental markets. But equally a weak UK government must make an unstable and unpredictable run up to Brexit more likely, which could have serious economic repercussions.

Soft Brexit is likely good for low carbon, but instability and poor economics are not. Hints are it could be a choice between two devils.

DUP influences

Business Green thinks, ‘There will be particular concern amongst green groups about the DUP’s record on environmental issues and climate change.’ Following Conservative losses, a DUP partnership looks to be Theresa May’s only way to try and govern.

At the time of reporting, no alternative had been offered for a Labour-led coalition. Corbyn has offered to form a government, but Liberal Democrats are saying coalition isn’t on the cards.

Business Green notes the DUP manifesto does call for, ‘A secure and sustainable energy supply for both domestic and business customers.’

But it makes little or no mention of renewables, energy efficiency, or climate policy. “The perception of the DUP is not a pretty one for renewables and climate change,” an industry source told Business Green.

“Their manifesto is one we’ve been looking at for a while, it is not openly hostile, but also not particularly big on renewables, although there is a big focus on reducing manufacturing costs.”

Business Green also observes that industry hopes a hung Parliament may provide an opportunity for a cross bench informal coalition on climate and energy issues. “There is alignment on climate and energy issues across major party manifestos,” their source continued.

“The electorate is clearly divided, and not along party lines, so it’s really important that we all grow up and all work together on certain issues, and the green economy is one of those.”

Energy plans

Conservative energy reforms, proposed in their manifesto, could now be out to pasture; they may lack the votes, DUP or otherwise, to get them through. The new pot for industrial energy efficiency could also be threatened.

Overall; ‘Britain’s green policy is now at a standstill, and sustainability professionals will be concerned that this could cause a further delay to the release of some major proposed environmental legislation, such as the Clean Growth Plan and the 25-Year Environment Plan,’ writes EDIE.

But, ‘On the plus side, the Conservatives’ loss of seats will mean the party can be more closely held to account over the level of ambition when it comes to key environmental legislation.’

Election 2017 tears up the rule book

In every sense, the political floodgates are now open.

Paddy Ashdown has tweeted; ‘If this election was about Brexit, then must we not conclude that Britain has rejected Mrs May’s hard Brexit?’

That softening could be welcomed by some groups. DesmogUK argues; ‘As things move forward, it’s looking like it will be a lot harder for significant environmental deregulation to take place without a fight. Meaning staying strong on environmental policies could be an easy win for the opposing parties.’

This illustrates the fascinating balance of tit for tat and real world policy-making that is today’s politics. Jonathan Bartley, The Green Party co-leader, spots more dichotomies, noting; ‘The Green Party got nearly twice the votes of climate-denying DUP, who may now have a hand in Government.’

Of late, politics truly has become a strange brew. All that’s guaranteed is low carbon must fight for progressive, disruptive energy and environment policy to maintain high billing in the new Westminster.

That in itself is nothing unusual. But the unexpected circumstances of the coming battle have shocked everyone.