Call for Evidence out on ‘smart flexible energy’. Clark promises industrial strategy ‘in next few months’

“We have to make sure the rules of the energy system don’t get in the way of innovation,” secretary of state Greg Clark told EnergyUK’s annual meeting as he announced publication of a call for evidence on ‘A smart, flexible energy system’. The long-awaited Call for Evidence was published jointly by BEIS and Ofgem.

Responses are required by 12 January.

Clark spoke about the “dramatic change” in the electricity industry since he was shadow energy secretary six years ago, saying that the scale of industry change now was as great as the rollout of the high voltage network. The consultation also said “We need to ensure that the interventions we make are resilient to a wide range of potential demands for power from heat and transport whilst being proportionate and cost-efficient.”

“We need the cheap option to be the clean option. How do we do that? By innovation”, he told the meeting. “New business models could challenge incumbents and how they operate. Where these could bring overall benefits to consumers, we should allow them to do so.” Clark promised changes in energy codes and regulations that would enable storage, demand side response and interconnectors.

He was dismissive of “past fears over intermittency” in the power system saying that now 14% of our electricity came from  intermittent sources “but still our electricity supply is the most reliable in Europe”.

“Exciting as innovation is, it is there for a purpose,” whether that was to improve services or reduce costs, he said. “The opportunities created by new energy technologies are the backbone to a thriving economy,” he said. He also highlighted the importance of energy as an industry and promised it would be part of an industrial strategy to be developed “over the next few months”, also promising to consult with the industry on that strategy.

Clark also said that government funding streams for innovation would be brought together in a new ‘Energy Innovation Board’ chaired by government chief scientific advisor Sir Mark Walport.

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