ECC Inquiry: Scrutiny of the Proposals for Energy National Policy Statements
ACE have submitted a written response to the Energy and Climate Change Committee inquiry into the Proposals for Energy National Policy Statements
ACE is concerned that the National Policy Statements on the whole do not sufficiently investigate the potential for reducing UK electricity demand, with DECC viewing energy supply policy as entirely separate from energy demand policy.
It is vital that electricity demand reduction be considered fully because the successful implementation of policies in this area may negate the need for additional generating capacity. Government has not assessed how the costs and benefits of investment in generation capacity compare to the costs and benefits of demand reduction. This issue was picked up on back in 1981, when the House of Commons select Committee on Energy (Sixth Report to Session 1980-1) posited this specific criticism of Government policy: Government “still has no idea whether investing £1,300m in a single nuclear plant is as cost-effective as spending a similar sum to promote energy conservation” – a generation later Government is still failing to address this most basic question.
Government frequently espouses the virtues of energy efficiency: it is the cheapest way of reducing carbon emissions, it improves energy security, it increases the productivity of our businesses and industry, saves money for householders and generates economic wealth. Yet, when designing national energy policy, Government would rather opt for controversial, unproven and/or costly technologies such as nuclear power or carbon capture and storage.
ACE believes that it is possible to radically reduce our electricity consumption, whilst allowing for the increasing penetration of heat pumps and electric vehicles (which would largely consume electricity during off-peak hours). One scenario sees electricity demand falling to 282 Twh in the long-term . Potential demand reduction policies could include:
•Fully insulating homes that use traditional electric heating systems, and replacing these systems with heat pumps that are between two and four times more efficient
•The rigorous implementation of minimum efficiency standards on all electrical products
•Consideration of ‘scrappage schemes’ to accelerate the replacement of inefficient products
Energy efficiency must be given primacy in energy policy in order to reduce costs to businesses and householders, and to maximise security of supply. As such, Government must undertake and publish a thorough review of the potential for reducing the UK’s consumption of electricity, and set these options alongside those for increasing generating capacity to present the full range of alternatives for meeting the UK’s electricity needs.
Tags: Energy Policy
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