Queen’s speech: the industry responds

Jess Ralston, Senior Analyst, Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU):
“The big risk with the Energy Bill is that government gets distracted with technologies like hydrogen and nuclear that might play a role but not for years to come.
“Steps that give immediate help to families struggling with rising energy bills, like insulation, seem to be falling by the wayside with Treasury blocking extra support and leaving the government open to criticism from voters who are feeling the pinch now.
“British renewables and home insulation are the only logical ways to both shield households from surging gas costs and isolate Putin.”

Sue Ferns, Senior Deputy general secretary, Prospect:
“An Energy Security Bill was the minimum we needed from the government to get through the current energy crisis and secure our future generating capacity and climate goals.
“So far we have had plenty of warm words about the desire to ramp up new nuclear but lacked a clear plan as to how that will happen.”
“Security of nuclear fuel supply and the development and preservation of nuclear skills are essential to our future energy security but were sadly absent from the proposed bill. The bill must set out a plan to maintain sovereign capability in fuel, through the protection of the UK’s only nuclear fuel producer Springfields, and ensure we are giving people the skills we need to power our energy secure future.
“The suggestion of increasing competition in electricity networks, may have unintended consequences and serve as a distraction from reaching Net Zero. We will urgently trying to clarify what the government intends.”

Dr Howard Porter, CEO, BEAMA:
“Alongside any legislation for technology – much supported by the industry – it is essential that consumers and businesses are given support to make real improvements to the buildings we occupy. There are many improvements that can made now, both to reduce energy usage and allow building owners more influence in their future energy costs”

David Smith, Chief Executive, Energy Networks Association:
“While an independent future system operator will help shape our energy system, it’s important that introducing competition into the networks will benefit customers and not hinder progression.
“Tackling emissions from the way we heat our homes by boosting the market for heat pumps, giving Ofgem powers to regulate heat networks, and enabling the first ever large-scale hydrogen home heating trial are all essential and very welcome.
“We now need the government to take further action in the Energy Security Bill by giving network companies the ability to make early, vital investment in infrastructure, and giving Ofgem a Net Zero mandate, which will enable a clean energy system to be delivered at best value for customers.”

Nick Molho, Executive Director, Aldersgate Group:
“Addressing the energy efficiency of the UK’s built environment and accelerating our transition away from volatile fossil fuels in heating is crucial to support households through the ongoing cost of living crisis. Today’s announcements make some progress in this area, with the welcome intentions to boost consumer protections and trust in new technologies by setting up a market standard and trading scheme for heat pumps, and appointing Ofgem as regulator for heat networks through the new Energy Bill.
“However, it is critical to roll out a comprehensive programme for energy efficiency in parallel, as the quickest way to reduce demand for gas and bills in the short term.
“… we welcome the new measures outlined in today’s speech to introduce business models for CCS, transmission and storage infrastructure and hydrogen, which are key in driving down costs and boosting investment in these new low carbon technologies.
“… the role of Ofgem in facilitating net zero delivery must be clarified, with a focus on allowing greater levels of anticipatory investment in transmission infrastructure to build an effective net zero energy system. It is also crucial that introducing competition to the UK’s onshore electricity measures delivers higher investment and cost savings, and does not lead to delivery delays.”

Dhara Vyas, director of advocacy, Energy UK:
“It’s vital to have the legislation and frameworks in place that will enable delivery of the ambitious targets set out in the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan and Energy Security Strategy
“We can help customers by reducing the dependence on expensive fossil fuels that is leading to record energy bills right now through expanding sources of domestic clean power and supporting the development of low carbon technologies like carbon capture usage and storage and hydrogen on the production side, as well as those in the home like heat pumps – which will also boost our economy, create new jobs and help us reach our climate change targets.”

Dan McGrail, CEO, RenewableUK:
“It’s vital that new legislation announced in the Queen’s Speech enables us to build cheap new renewable energy more quickly, as speed is key to boosting home-grown energy and cutting bills for consumers.
Government has put low carbon power at the heart of Britain’s Energy Security Strategy, including a target of quadrupling offshore wind by 2030, so we need to ensure that the frameworks for planning and connecting new energy projects supports this target, as well as longer-term growth needed for net zero”.

Anthony Ainsworth, COO, Npower Business Solutions:
“With no major updates to energy legislation in almost 10 years, the inclusion of the Energy Security Bill is a welcome announcement. While we will await to see the detail of the Bill, its focus on delivering the plans laid out in the recent British Energy Security Strategy to ensure a clean, secure and stable energy supply for the UK is undoubtedly a good thing.
“However, as we have said before, any new legislation also needs to include measures to help businesses now as well as in the future, by protecting them from future volatility. This could include policies that encourage businesses to reduce energy consumption through greater energy efficiency, or reforms to make it easier for them to become more self-sufficient by installing renewable on-site generation.
“While the Bill may help deliver the UK’s long term energy resiliency, it also needs to support businesses who are struggling right now.”

Laurent Schmitt, Head of Utilities and European Developments, domestic solar and EV charging company dcbel:
“The government has promised to deliver the transition to cheaper, cleaner and more secure energy in today’s opening of Parliament, but we must consider how we update our grid systems to ensure they’re working to optimal sustainability so that we can diversify how we produce, gather, and use energy.
“… Emphasis must shift to what we can produce and store energy at home, not just per-country but per-person. This means greater implementation of residential solar and wind energy production, and ensuring all EV chargers within the UK/EMEA are bidirectional, providing the grid with another support during peak times. ..
“While the UK government has consulted the energy sector on what would be required to deliver V2X as fast as possible, complexity and technical requirements have stalled these changes from happening and modernising the grid, but the stark reality that the conflict has highlighted means that we now must act quicker than ever to ensure our energy production and consumption are reliable, affordable and most importantly, sustainable.”

Benedict McAleenan, Founder, Helmsley Energy:
“Although the new Energy Security Bill is prompted by the Ukraine crisis, there’s a lot in here that’s been needed for some time. …
“The UK currently has a cost of energy crisis. It’s largely avoiding a serious threat to energy supplies. But that could change overnight and it’s right to be thinking again about how robust our supplies of oil and especially gas are. This Bill looks like it will give Ministers more powers to step in and guarantee supplies from big fuel companies. I imagine the government is also thinking about how to re-open the strategic gas reserves that were closed down just five years ago.”
“The government needs to address the single biggest political problem it faces: the cost of living, in which energy bills are a leading factor. There are lots of possible solutions, but mostly it means shifting a big chunk of the costs away from the least well-off and onto everyone else. That’s the right principle, but doing it means a lot more than just extending the price cap. And an even bigger political question is whether the Bill can pass through Parliament, then start to take effect in time for the next General Election, which is only a couple of years away.”

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