Ecobuild: Solar to be included in energy efficiency program

The context for Energy Secretary Ed Davey’s remarks on solar PV, delivered today at Ecobuild, was as the U.K.’s current and future energy efficiency policies. The energy efficiency market, said Davey, has changed in nature, developing many more aspects than purely providing insulation for homes. It now includes all technologies concerning the various ways to reduce homes energy needs and also generate energy on site. Thus, the current energy efficiency policy framework is to include various tools such as solar PV feed-in tariffs (FITs) and renewable heat incentives.

?In an interesting spin on the discussion, energy efficiency and energy demand reduction are not solely the result of our climate change and economic decarbonization targets; they are the mediators to social good, the Energy Secretary said.

?The average U.K. household has saved approximately £90 a year (US$138) on energy bills thanks to this government’s policies, Davey argued. “And we intend to do more to tackle fuel poverty,” he added.

Davey then went on to announce a new fuel poverty strategy, which will address the current framework’s shortcomings, aiming to create more green jobs, reduce energy bills and enhance social justice.

The strong focus on addressing fuel poverty as a social justice goal is in keeping with the policy platform of the Liberal Democratic party, of which Energy Secretary Davey is a member. Naturally the platform will only be pursued if the Liberal Democrats remain in power, as a part of the current coalition government or in some other coalition configuration. Britain will head to the polls on May 7 in a General Election.

?A labyrinth of regulation

Davey outlined some practical steps that should accompany the bold ambitions he set out, to address fuel poverty on a national level.

"The market alone will struggle to achieve our fuel poverty targets, so regulation is necessary to boost the sector" Davey argued. “Such is the need for new regulations a segmented regulatory approach is needed to address the various sectors.” One of these will be the so-called ‘magna carta’, consisting of five laws that would provide additional financial incentives for the greening the U.K. households.

Solar PV is set to be included in this ‘magna carta’ as a part of a bolder solar electricity target, said Davey.

All in all, the promised labyrinth of new regulations and state intervention will, according to Davey, lead to 10 million U.K. homes to undergo ‘green improvements’ by 2025, with the corresponding public expenditures creating a more competitive and sustainable economy.

Based on the Energy Secretary’s Ecobuild keynote speech and the following event debating the greening of the U.K.’s electricity grid, attendants gathered the impression that residential solar PV remains in the agenda, particularly at the residential level. Disappointingly, large-scale solar PV was totally ignored by Davey and during the subsequent debate.