Think piece - Paul's take on the national energy picture & what it means for PEC

As PEC approaches it’s 1st birthday, we look back at the last year and the key national policy changes that have shaped the activities of PEC.

The energy policy landscape is continually changing. New policies and revisions to existing strategies means any organisation wishing to deliver energy related programmes has to be flexible and able to adapt to new ways of thinking. Take the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) for example; this obligation on the energy companies was supposed to address the lack of insulation in the 6 million solid walled properties across the country. PEC seized an opportunity with the City Council and British Gas to tackle this problem in Plymouth, and following months of hard work got a programme off the ground delivering insulation to those properties that needed it the most. Enter George Osbourne and the autumn statement which changed the ECO to such an extent that it made our scheme unviable. PEC has moved on from that, capitalising on the changes made in the autumn statement, and now offers free loft and cavity wall insulation to Plymouth Residents.

So, ECO has been a mixed bag in terms of national policy, but what else is government doing to help PEC? Two new policies spring to mind – The Community Energy Strategy, and the UK Solar PV Strategy. The first positive thing to recognise is the fact that these strategies now exist – government is pro-actively looking at community energy and solar power. For PEC this means that it’s aims firmly ally with national strategy – a good thing when trying to increase support for PEC.

The Community Energy Strategy sets out government’s vision for community energy groups. It suggests that there are four key areas for groups to be engaged with;

• Generating energy (electricity or heat),
• Reducing energy use (saving energy through energy efficiency and behaviour change)
• Managing energy (balancing supply and demand)
• Purchasing energy

It’s fair to say the strategy is light on action, other than setting up a specific unit to deliver the strategy. Though we should in the first instance be happy that government know acknowledge the potential impact community energy can have.

The Solar PV Strategy sets out government’s intention to ‘make the rooftops of the UK the power stations of the future’. Whilst keeping aspirations high for small scale domestic installations the strategy also moves PV onto mid sized commercial rooftops. It considers the barriers to this happening, such as planning permission, and proposes methods to remove these. It also makes clear that the current trend for solar farms is not one that will be supported long term.

The future of PEC and PEC Renewables will be shaped by these and subsequent strategies.

By Paul Elliot, Home Energy Advisor to PEC

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