The UK’s new industrial strategy, released today, “reaffirms government’s position that local energy systems demonstrate real value and have a clear role to play in the future energy mix,” according to the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE).
In its 250-page document, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) cites local smart energy systems as a development priority and says it will establish local energy plans “that identify and build on strengths across the country”.
The strategy identifies clean growth as one of the four biggest challenges for the nation as it heads into Brexit, reinforcing the Clean Growth Strategy announced last month.
It also adds more, including the need to remodel the national electricity grid to enable the various different kinds of renewable generation that are coming on-stream.
Initiatives to be taken include a ‘Prospering from the energy revolution’ programme, which will aim to create jobs and exports; a ‘Transforming construction’ scheme, which will focus on energy efficiency in buildings; and a ‘Future of mobility’ challenge which seeks to lead in electric vehicle technology.
For energy-intensive industries, the strategy pledges investment of £162m ($216m) in innovation for low carbon industry and says the government will “work with industry to stimulate further market investment in clean and efficient technologies and process,” partly through a new scheme to support investment in industrial energy efficiency.
“This scheme will help large businesses install measures that will cut their energy use and bills, as well as improve their productivity,” it states.
The government also intends to embrace new technologies that enable far greater storage of electricity and the management of demand.
“Smart systems can link energy supply, storage and use, and join up power, heating and transport to increase efficiency dramatically. By developing these world-leading systems in the UK, we can cut bills while creating high value jobs for the future,” the strategy states.
In line with its goal of taking a ‘whole-systems’ approach to the energy market, BEIS aims to support the development of local smart grids in order to encourage decarbonization of the heating and transport sectors. The government has also promised significant investment in low-carbon technologies and energy efficiency.
The strategy’s support for electric vehicles will include a £400m investment in charging infrastructure and an extra £100m to extend the plug-in car grant. Investments in transport, housing and digital infrastructure will be supported by a £31bn investment in the National Productivity Fund.
Dr Tim Rotheray of the ADE said his group welcomed the strategy’s focus on “ensuring local energy users can implement new technology solutions to access new revenue streams and ‘prosper from the energy revolution’.”
He said the strategy “clearly values the cost and carbon benefits of local, user-led systems, but there needs to be a stronger link with how businesses can use energy market revenues to improve their competitiveness and productivity”.
And he warned that “care needs to be taken to ensure there are clearer price signals to drive the local energy and efficiency investments needed to create a low carbon competitive economy”.
Dr Nina Skorupska, CEO of the Renewable Energy Association, said the strategy “recognizes the technological revolution taking place across the energy and transport industries, and the value that specific sectors such as the bio-economy, energy efficient construction, and electric vehicles bring”.
And Louise Kingham, CEO of the Energy Institute, said she was “encouraged to see that resource efficiency in business, industry and construction have such a prominent place, and that the government is committed to taking a whole systems approach to decarbonizing our energy infrastructure.”