Climate watchdog launches inquiries into UK energy policies
The UK Parliament's Energy and Climate Change Committee has launched three inquiries into the Conservative Government's track record on the low-carbon economy and potential policy options going forward.
The Energy and Climate Change Committee will be scrutinising investor confidence in the UK energy sector, home energy efficiency and demand reduction, and low-carbon network infrastructure.
The three areas were chosen following a public consultation with industry stakeholders, which drew nearly 250 responses.
The first inquiry will look into whether increased uncertainty around energy policy is undermining investor confidence. It comes at a crucial time: earlier this week, consultancy firm EY dropped the UK from its top-10 most attractive investment markets for renewables, citing policy uncertainty.
Energy and Climate Change Committee chair Angus MacNeil said: “Energy projects like offshore wind farms and nuclear power stations can take years from planning to completion, so maintaining investor confidence is crucial if we want to upgrade our energy system.
“Energy experts have told us that the Government has spooked investors with a series of sudden energy policy changes announced over the summer without proper parliamentary scrutiny.
“We will be looking at what steps Government must take to restore confidence in the UK’s energy sector and improve DECC’s policy making processes.”
Stakeholders are being asked to submit responses to the consultation, including opinions on where future investment will come from and examples of best practice for stimulating investment.
The second consultation will look into home energy efficiency, following the end of two key policies – Zero Carbon Homes and the Green Deal – without any replacement schemes. The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) is also due to come to an end in March 2017.
The Committee said it aims to draw on the lessons of these policies to inform future decision-making. It is asking for responses addressing why these schemes failed to deliver significant results and what lessons can be learned from other countries.
Greening the grid
The final consultation will look into the future of the UK electricity infrastructure.
“The UK electricity infrastructure is ageing and substantial investment will be required to upgrade the network (both transmission and distribution) to address today’s and tomorrow’s energy system needs,” a statement from the Committee said.
“As low-carbon technologies and distributed energy play a greater role, the move towards a smarter, more localised and diverse system presents both challenges and opportunities.”
The Committee is therefore seeking responses addressing which technologies can enable the development of a smarter grid, and what impact decentralised energy could have on the network.