Draft Energy Bill - Reasons To Be Concerned?

Tony Rollinson
Tuesday, 22nd May 2012

The UK government today published its draft energy bill. At a time of financial austerity higher energy bills will inevitably be on the way. What can we do and what should the UK be doing in terms of energy security? Juliet Davenport, a leading voice in the renewable electricity industry, suggests a way forward.

The UK energy industry needs a massive amount of investment, over £110 billion over the next decade in order to provide an uninterrupted supply to customers, and all of the usual suspects are lining-up to press for their slices of the cake. There is alooming gap in UK supply lines. Both coal and nuclear power stations are approaching the end of their lives; the nuclear option is unacceptable to many and divides ministers, whilst North Sea gas supplies are limited.

The UK has legally binding targets to meet on cutting greenhouse gas emissions and the government has stated that it wishes to de-carbonise the electricity industry by the 2030s. A tall order? Possibly, but also an opportunity that offers the chance to look at boosting renewables - if the investment is truly put into the wind, solar and tidal research companies who are screaming out for the support. The signs are there that current choices could be about to leave the UK gas-dependent for decades. 

Commenting on the draft Energy Bill, Juliet Davenport, CEO and founder of Good Energy, the UK's only 100% renewable electricity supplier said: "The Government's persistence with Contracts for Difference is playing with fire. These overly complex instruments risk skewing the market towards nuclear and the 'Big 6', at the expense of renewable energy and smaller suppliers. They will restrict competition in the market, rather than attracting the new investment the industry needs, and the result is that consumers will be the losers in the long run and will end up having to pay higher prices."

Dvenport continues: "There is an alternative initially proposed by the government - a straightforward premium Feed-in Tariff would address these problems. Renewable energy sourced in the UK is better for our energy security and will lead to lower and more stable prices in the long run, and mean that  money spent on our energy bills is re-invested here in the UK. We’ve got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get this right; if the government blows it we’ll be tied into gas and expensive nuclear and prices will continue to spiral higher.”

As with Good Energy and its wind farm investment there are some excellent tidal energy projects currently being tested in Britain. Is it right that we as UK tax payers see our taxes being invested in these exciting, developing industries? We'd love to hear what you think in the comments section below.

Maddy Harland, Permaculture magazine editor adds, "Nuclear power is not an option. We cannot  leave a legacy of waste for future generations to deal with. We should be treating all sources of energy as precious resources to be conserve as long as possible into the future. Currently, UK industry still wastes huge amounts of energy and domestic consumers often tend to think the problem of supply can be fixed with a gas deal from overseas. The more we can conserve energy in our homes and businesses and wean ourselves off dependence on the national infrastructure the better. We need micro- and community generation schemes, plus a big programme of retrofitting housing stock properly. The government are tickling around the edge with the Green Deal and have struck a blow to the renewable industry with their policies that favour the big players in the energy industry and fossil fuels."