A groundswell in business interest in the government’s forthcoming energy security and green economy bill was discussed at Green Monday in London on 1st November.
Patrick Erwin, Head of the Energy Bill team in the Energy and Climate Department (DECC), briefed the session on how the legislation is shaping up, focusing on the bill’s flagship ‘Green Deal’. This will finance energy efficiency measures in buildings by creating a mechanism that links financing to energy bills so owners can upgrade properties without up-front costs.
“It’s not old government,” all about imposing regulations, Mr Erwin told the meeting. “We’re trying to be innovative here… We want to deliver a framework so that [business] can go off and make it work”. The plans include new measures to replace the carbon emissions reduction target (CERT) scheme. The Government is also working hard to put in place measures to encourage the use of smart meters. “We think smart meters are an important element,” Mr Erwin said.
The official also touched on other elements designed to ensure energy security. The bill will pave the way for reform of electricity markets and put in place a system for monitoring security of electricity and gas supply.
A new offshore transmission regime will help link marine renewable energy projects to the grid. New definitions of the UK continental shelf based on an agreement with Ireland will encourage oil and gas exploration.
Mr Erwin also gave a first public indication of likely timing for the legislation. The bill should be introduced to parliament before Christmas, he said. Consultation on guidance and secondary legislation should get into gear next year once the bill is passed. The full regime could be operational by late 2012.
Gary Parke, a director of energy services company Breathe Energy said he saw the bill as laying the foundations for a wholesale shift towards smart energy. The UK is currently only just beginning the task, some 30 years behind the likes of the US, he noted. One of the biggest obstacles could be a shortage of energy engineers, Mr Parke added.
Matthew Sexton, CSR director with B&Q UK described the Green Deal as a “fantastic mechanism” to decarbonise UK homes using a wide range of measures, including insulation, better windows, more efficient boilers and all kinds of renewables. Moreover, it should be good for business, he said: “A lot of people should have a good business opportunity”.
A survey of Green Monday participants released just before the event underlined Mr Sexton’s point. Just over half of the 100 sustainability professionals who took part said they saw the energy bill as an opportunity. About one third expected it to “generate substantial new markets”.
Nick Rowcliffe, ENDS Report
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