The Energy Institute’s Energy Barometer 2019 suggests the continued political focus on Brexit is taking up too much “political bandwidth” and preventing important energy and climate policy decisions from being made.
In the organisation’s latest annual survey of experts from across the sector, a third of respondents identified leaving the EU as more of a challenge than any other issue.
The Energy Institute says its impacts are compounding “perennial concerns” about UK energy policy as a whole, and warns it is slowing progress on decisions being made surrounding economics, competition, security of supply, investment risk and the future of the grid.
The Energy Barometer 2019 survey provides a representative sample of the EI's UK membership and for the first time highlights the challenges and contradictions facing policy makers and industry leaders in ensuring consumers get the most from rapidly advancing technologies.
Energy efficiency "first port of call" for cost-effective, low-risk decarbonisation
The report finds that half of EI members believe better promotion of the opportunities opened up by smart technologies for household consumers and businesses is needed to help capitalise on the lower bills and system benefits promised by these technologies.
While 82 per cent of EI members support incentives for system flexibility such as battery storage to accommodate the rise of renewables and other causes of variability on power networks, the study highlights frustration amongst energy professionals about a "lack of supportive regulation" holding back progress.
As a result, energy efficiency measures continue to be the first port of call for cost-effective, low-risk decarbonisation - a view repeated for the past three years and shared by professionals working in all areas of energy.
Sam Hunt, Principal Energy Consultant at SMS Plc, commented:
“SMS’s experience of working with industrial and commercial energy users indicates significant scope for continued cost-effective carbon reductions from energy efficiency improvements.
“However, government measures such as energy performance certificates (EPCs) and the Energy Saving Opportunities Scheme (ESOS) are largely not being used by businesses to generate valuable insights into opportunities for carbon reduction.
“SMS is supporting its business customers to improve their understanding of energy performance in their operations and to plan energy reduction programmes, achieving compliance with regulations such as ESOS as an integral element of wider energy management good practice.
“Unless energy users take this approach they risk being exposed to further regulatory burdens and higher energy prices as government has to look for additional levers to improve efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.”
To make the transition to a low-carbon economy it will be necessary for all relevant actors to collaborate and support long-term and innovative projects and programmes. From policy makers to regulators, and energy experts to businesses, the burden of this transition sits across the economy with everyone needing to play their part.
Smart technologies and flexibility, as well as energy efficiency, will be required to enable a low-carbon economy. This is a significant challenge and one that needs to be supported for the long-term.
SMS strives to assist businesses with this challenge, particularly as the impact of inaction when it comes to carbon reduction looks set to result in continually-spiralling costs and negative sustainability credentials.
In this context, we are helping business energy users leverage their compliance obligations to gain valuable insight into their consumption and identify real energy saving opportunities. By offering the resources, management and funding to deliver these opportunities, we can assist organisations with the introduction of flexibility and energy technologies that boost operational sustainability.
Businesses can discover the stark financial impact of failing to follow up on their energy saving opportunities by using our free-to-use Energy Risk Forecaster.