Taking back control

17th May 2021

 

You may know that EUA is working with Carbon Connect to pull together a paper on how to deliver Net Zero in the UK. The paper looks at governance arrangements, such as the creation of an over-arching body responsible for delivery; what skills are required along with training and how consumers are engaged in the debate and final delivery.

The latter is the trickiest I feel. This week we met to explore the thinking around it. What struck me most was that in the energy world there appears to be two divergent views – no, not heat pumps v hydrogen, but consumer choice v central direction. This argument is not going away in the short-term, but ultimately, there will be only one winner. Consumers being offered a choice, a real choice, will be where we end up.

To me, that means offering a choice of options going forward – so long as they meet our Net Zero ambitions, then in a country that recently expressed its desire to “take back control”, it is the least consumers will expect. If Parliament wants to take a lead, without choosing winners and losers, then it needs to spell out its desire to offer that choice. Then let industry and consumers work within the market to achieve the outcome that best suits them and their circumstances.

So it means an absolute commitment to the future of the gas network if it is Net Zero compatible; an absolute commitment to upgrade electricity networks with the capability to deliver the increased load expected; regulation to facilitate heat networks by protecting consumers. Putting these in place shouldn’t be controversial, Government is just creating the environment in which to achieve Net Zero.

But creating that certainty is so important. It unleashes the private investment from business that requires some protection over its outgoings. It enables the new thinkers as well as the established players to make plans and harness new opportunities.  

Imagine the two futures, one where an individual can choose between direct electric heating, a heat pump, a hybrid-heat pump, a district heating scheme, a hydrogen boiler or one where your postcode determines what appliances you have and fixes you into lifestyle and cost you cannot escape from. It is about taking back control.

Best wishes

Mike Foster CEO