Utility Week

UTILITY Week 11th April 2014

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

Issue link: https://fhpublishing.uberflip.com/i/292560

Contents of this Issue


Page 5 of 31

ing coal and in the short term can make a big difference to reducing carbon emissions. The irony, of course, is that coal is cheaply imported into the UK because of extensive shale gas reserves in the US being exploited and used to lower their energy costs. We would also argue that UK industry, particularly energy-intensive users, should not pay the penalty for its carbon emis- sions when internationally its competitors do not. There is little sense in UK jobs being lost as production moves overseas because of UK carbon policy, if by doing so global greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced. Climate change is a global phenomenon – not one faced by just the UK, or even the EU. Turning to the domestic sec- tor, our members have been taking the lead in offering ways to tackle the energy trilemma. Heating our homes accounts for 46 per cent of UK energy use and 32 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. It is widely acknowledged that our building stock is sub-optimal and there are 15 million inefficient boil- ers currently in use, wasting energy and costing the earth. The Heat- ing & Hotwater Industry Council (HHIC), a division of EUA, last year produced its "Pathways for Domestic Heat- ing" report into how to meet the UK's green- house gas targets while realistically working with the energy infrastructure we have. In short, it offered a way forward that was not the "all electric, one size fits all" approach we had seen from some quarters, but suggested that a blend of technologies and energy sources could do the job. There is a future for gas in the domestic sector, allied with renewables, that meets our climate change targets. Hybrid heat pumps and boilers, electric and gas pow- ered, can deliver the comfort in the home demanded by households while meeting the climate change obligations negotiated by governments. Our members are heavily involved in work to inform current policy in the domestic 6 | 11th - 17th April 2014 | UtilitY WEEK Comment I n 2008, I was in Parliament to vote for the Climate Change Act. As minister for inter- national development, I have seen the melting glacial lakes in the Himalayas and visited the low-lying flood plains in Bangla- desh where UK aid has helped with adapta- tion measures to give villagers a chance to earn their living from subsistence farming. I need no lectures from environmental groups about the real threat posed by greenhouse gas emissions, but they in turn need to accept there is a real future for gas in tack- ling the UK's energy trilemma. As chief executive of a trade association operating in the energy sector, I am acutely aware of the need to address the concerns of energy costs, energy security of supply and greenhouse gas emissions. I would also add a fourth concern of the UK's wider economic prospects; in shorthand – jobs. There is no silver bullet that the Energy and Utilities Alliance (EUA) knows of that can solve the problem, just as there is no single technology or energy source that can. That is why gas, as the cleanest burning of fossil fuels, still in abundant supply, can play a key role in the UK going forward as we embrace a low-carbon future. That is why EUA believes that exploitation of our shale gas reserves should be something the UK government supports. Of course, there are environmental chal- lenges to be met, and we expect our stand- ards to be second to none, but if shale gas can be extracted safely, it should be. It is no silver bullet, as I have said there is none, but it can make a difference. Imagine what a UK-wide energy efficiency retrofit programme could look like when financed by the tax revenues from shale gas? The best way for consumers to save money on bills is to reduce demand; it is also the best way to reduce carbon dioxide emis- sions. And as an aside, I know many people who would prefer to see jobs created here producing gas than overseas. Scientific fact tells us that gas produces fewer carbon emissions than both oil and coal. Yet our power sector burns coal, mostly imported. Burning gas is cleaner than burn- No silver bullet, but gas is key If shale gas can be extracted safely, it should be. It is no silver bullet, but it can make a difference. A low-carbon world using gas allied with renewables can meet the UK's climate change targets. Chief executive's view Mike Foster, Energy and Utilities Alliance heating sector. The Green Deal, while great in principle, has not delivered and we should be up front and honest in saying so. Pretend- ing otherwise does the sector a disservice. The Energy Companies Obligation (Eco) needs reform and fuel poverty is a real and pressing issue. I would argue there is still plenty of low-hanging fruit out there that can be harvested in the quest to make energy more affordable. For example, more than 300,000 homes have gas connections but do not use the fuel. Mains gas is the cheapest way of heating your home and cleaner than coal, oil and electricity. So why not start to make an inroad here, where we know the exact address of poten- tial beneficiaries? A connection to the mains is an option that Ofgem supports through the RIIO settlement, but is there greater scope for more homes to be connected? In the short term, this may well be a financially via- ble option for the householder, giving lower bills, while generat- ing fewer carbon emissions over- all. In the longer term, this also facilitates the hybrid technology being installed as we switch to renewables. I have merely scratched the surface of the range of issues EUA is working on. I could have added heat networks, smart metering, gas storage and the need to build new homes that are renewable ready. Our association was founded as the UK gas industry first emerged. The future is about how gas is used in a low-carbon world. To deny a future for gas in the UK would be a folly of huge proportions. Seeing gas through the prism of a dirty fossil fuel ignores its true potential. That stance will do little to help the UK address the energy trilemma, it will risk our eco- nomic prosperity and importantly, it will do nothing to help those villagers I met in Bangladesh to cope with the rising sea levels and increased flood risk caused by climate change. "To deny a future for gas in the UK would be a folly of huge proportions"

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Utility Week - UTILITY Week 11th April 2014