A new report has urged the government to do more if the country is to reach its low-carbon potential – but British business must take the initiative too
The UK’s first ever National Infrastructure Assessment has called on the government to embrace green energy and smart technology as a way of cutting carbon emissions and avoiding higher costs for consumers in the future.
The new report from the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) said that speeding up the transition to low-carbon and renewable sources – as well as a move towards electric vehicles – would mean that businesses in 2050 will have experienced no real-term increase in what they pay for energy today.
Calls for action come despite the government having put significant emphasis on decarbonisation over recent years, including various ambitious sustainability objectives.
However, the authors of the report stress that the government will have to “ramp up” its efforts to improve the energy efficiency of buildings, enable a rapid switch to electric vehicles, and change the country’s energy dynamic “radically” over the coming decades in order to meet legally binding carbon targets.
The authors remain upbeat that there remains a “golden opportunity to make our country greener, and protect the money in the pockets of consumers long into the future”. Nevertheless, the government “needs to act now to realise the full potential of what can be achieved.”
What is being recommended?
Delivering the UK's climate targets for the power sector in the cheapest way possible will need to involve high levels of renewables, combined with smart, flexible technologies such as interconnectors, batteries, and demand side response services, says the NIC.
The Commission recommends that no more nuclear projects should be considered until after the completion of Hinkley C, while established green sources such as wind and solar should be "moved to the front of the queue" for government support. It also recommends that if a target of delivering 50 per cent renewable power by 2030 is to be met, then the government should set out a clear, budgeted pipeline for future green power auctions.
The Commission has endorsed improving the energy efficiency of Britain’s buildings stock, including a call for the Government to triple their existing funding for energy efficiency. Delivering a model for low-cost heat in the UK, meanwhile, is a "major outstanding challenge", according to the NIC. Boosting energy efficiency would be the most immediate way of slashing the country's emissions from heat.
The NIC argues that to drive widespread electric vehicle (EV) uptake, the government should make sure that recharging is as easy as refuelling a petrol or diesel motor. The commission recommends therefore that the government should focus on installing a core network of fast or rapid chargers across the country, as well as endorsing the subsidisation of EV charger installations in order to encourage EV adoption.
What does this mean for businesses?
Though the onus is clearly on the government to create the necessary conditions that will allow the country to meet its ambitious decarbonisation objectives, British businesses have a big part to play in this process also – and not just through environmental compliance.
Of course, the major incentive for businesses to proactively participate in achieving a more sustainable future for Britain – aside from boosting their green credentials – is the promise of cheaper energy and operational costs in years to come as a result of a smarter, more efficient energy system.
The most intuitive businesses will already be taking steps, not only to reduce costs and improve efficiencies now, but also to prepare in the best ways possible to reap maximum advantage from our low-carbon future.
How we can help
Aside from our work to assist the government and energy suppliers in establishing the foundations for the low-carbon energy system through the deployment of smart meters around the country, we are also assisting business in joining the smart energy revolution – and helping Britain seize its “golden opportunity” to decarbonise in the process.
On top of our Smart Metering & Data services, we are working with the private and public sector through our:
Smart Energy Services
Providing a full spectrum of energy services to minimise consumption, improve sustainability and facilitate the introduction of greater energy flexibility through self-generation, storage and demand response projects.
Smart Utility Services
Providing connections management for smart grid and energy infrastructure developers in the areas of embedded generation and storage, as well as connections expertise and meter asset funding for electric vehicle charging projects.
Ready to join the smart energy revolution?
If your business is serious about sustainability, we can offer you expert advise on how to minimise your consumption, or provide support in implementing your smart energy projects. Get in touch with us today.