Why the Micropower Council became the Sustainable Energy Association

Self-production from users of sustainable sources of heat and power within energy efficient buildings has made striking progress over the last decade.  We have moved from a simple range of promising technologies and ideas – taken up by a small number of early adopters – to a fully fledged, mass market for low carbon innovations and renewable technologies.
Along the way, we identified that a suitable political narrative was needed to aid this transition and combat the climate change critiques that condemn the very purpose of these technologies.  So during this period the Micropower Council (now the Sustainable Energy Association) developed detailed policy framework to execute that vision, at all times taking care to advocate energy efficiency and microgeneration.
As part of this process we have long championed the vision of a more sustainable future that embraces all aspects of a building’s energy usage; the building fabric, the sources of heating, sometimes cooling, and electricity production. However, as I stated at the launch of the Sustainable Energy Association; “people don’t get into microgeneration because they have always dreamed of buying or selling a heat pump, a clever boiler or a solar panel; they do so because it either makes financial sense, or because they also believe in that more sustainable future. “
It is this economic argument that the newly launched Sustainable Energy Association will carry forth.  We certainly have a very good economic story to tell – namely that the government’s own figures indicate that energy measures taken in buildings are cheaper and normally cleaner than almost every large-scale, supply-side solution for meeting the country’s energy needs. We of course recognise that both are needed, but are keen to put forward the case for the demand side with particular emphasis on its underlying economic rationale for UK plc.
The carbon narrative is still critically important, and though based on a consensus that is scientifically unbreakable, is wounded politically. We must continue to be an advocate for these measures as the most economically efficient way of securing energy supply and reducing carbon emissions in the UK.
This is a very real economic argument, with energy saving measures and demand side heat and electricity production clearly costing less per MWh than many of the large scale options that seem to be receiving far greater political attention.
The Sustainable Energy Association will use this analysis and subsequent research to secure a step change in the policy attention given to that intelligent blend of energy efficiency, low carbon heat and electricity production by end users, as well as their interface with the wider energy system. We will be creating a fully joined up and properly-researched approach to industry’s transition to integration of government policy across departments, in doing so, promoting energy efficiency and self-production of low carbon energy by end users as a single, unified, and well-integrated, “demand-side” narrative.
The Association is run by the same team that successfully ran the Micropower Council for ten years, and was behind significant policy change for Microgeneration. We will look and feel very familiar to those with whom the Micropower Council already works closely, and we are already involved in joint campaigns with colleague trade associations and others on a range of policy issues. That co-operative working style will absolutely continue, but with a step change in the effectiveness of a well-integrated and technology-agnostic demand-side narrative.

Dave Sowden is chief executive of the Sustainable Energy Association. The SEA will be launched at the House of Commons on 24 March. To attend visit www.sustainableenergyassociation.com or contact [email protected]

This article is taken from New Power, February 2014 edition.  Also in this issue:

Interconnectors -  plans, progress and barriers to implementation

Myths of the GB energy market explored

Rising costs at the DCC

Experience of demand side response

And much more. For a sample issue: [email protected]