Energy revolution to have ‘greater impact’ than industrial

The Energy Solutions exhibition kicked off this morning with the Renewable Energy Association's vice chair of the onsite renewables sector, David Hunt, claiming that the coming energy revolution will be the most important to date.

Hunt acknowledged that the most significant revolution had been the industrial followed by the Internet revolution, both shaping the way the world works today.

However, he argued that the coming energy revolution would be “of greater global, political and economic impact than any revolution before.”

Pointing to regulator Ofgem’s recent report, which suggested that spare energy generating capacity in the UK could fall to 4% by 2015/2016, Hunt warned that the UK could be facing black outs or energy rationing if British energy supplies fail.

He also explained that currently, in the UK, energy prices are at least double the rate of inflation, and that the government was not sending clear signals.

“We are facing a government that isn’t listening. Just this week we heard the Chancellor George Osborne’s speech which had no mention of climate change and no mention of a green economy,” he said.

He accused the government of “spooking investors” and causing uncertainties in the renewable sector, adding that the “battle between the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Treasury had made everyone uneasy.”

Hunt also announced that the overwhelming consensus of experts was that the Green Deal, as it stands, was a “car crash policy”.

The vice chair went on to say that once again the Green Deal had the potential to cause more uncertainty for renewables investors.

Hunt argued that there was “no silver bullet” to address the problem of energy supply.

“Nuclear isn’t the answer and wind isn’t the answer: they are both part of an answer along with other technologies such as solar PV, heat pumps, biomass, anaerobic digestion, fuel cells and other developing technologies.”

He pointed to the CBI’s analysis that a third of the UK’s economic growth in 2011/2012 is likely to have come from green businesses.

“We need to see a Treasury seeing the growth opportunity that the CBI see,” urged Hunt.

However, there was good news he said. The renewable sector had made big steps so far.

In September of this year the UK onshore wind capacity reached 5GW with wind farms producing 10.8% of overall UK energy demand.

According to DECC, renewable energy output capacity soared by up to 42% over the past year to 14.2GW.

Hunt claimed that although feed in tariffs had been tampered with and the renewable heat incentive had experienced teething problems, they were still attractive options.

Live from the Energy Solutions exhibition at Olympia.

Conor McGlone

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