Can we learn from energy efficiency market failures – and should interconnectors be under more scrutiny? Input to the BIEE Policy Conference

Ahead of BIEE’s biennial Policy Conference in London on 22 September we have been asking you to join the discussion – and you still have an opportunity to do so.

With the support of Arup, we are seeking views on four Key Questions, which will feed in to discussions at the conference. With two weeks still to go until the conference – and time for opinions to change – I took a look at early answers to our questions.

You can give your views on one or all of the questions here and sign up to attend the conference, in person or remotely, here.

Our first session will discuss the current situation for households and businesses and our Key Question 1 is what immediate action government should take to alleviate the pain. By far the most important action, according to responses so far, is to help consumers insulate their buildings and use energy more efficiently. Currently that has come out as slightly more urgent than providing targeted support via (for example) Universal Credit. This may be because the industry knows that energy efficiency will reduce bills at source and permanently – but as price rises bite and time ticks away, will the balance shift? At  the moment, reducing energy taxes has got as much support as speeding up deployment of wind or of solar installation, and it is more popular than adding electricity storage.

Our second session looks at current markets and how they are changing. That debate is hugely important now – discussion of how the electricity market should change has reached as far as mass-market tabloid press. Judging by answers so far to our Key Question 2 that discussion should have interconnectors high on its agenda. The question looks ahead to a bigger ‘whole energy system’ and asks what it should encompass: interconnection comes a very close second to heating and cooling networks. Should it be higher up the agenda at BEIS and Ofgem?

In our third session we will be debating the role of markets and our Key Question 3, asks about market failures. Energy efficiency is mentioned often here and other scars have been left by the slow implementation of wind, solar and storage.  These responses are a real concern, when we consider these are the immediate measures identified to help lift us out of the energy crisis.

Our fourth session looks at how the energy system is changing at different scales and Key Question 4 asks which needs most urgent action from government. Consistent with earlier questions, action on the retail market comes highest. But responses that call for a focus on local and regional scale raise the issue of radical change in energy that see consumers or local services at its heart. Can we deal with the immediate retail challenge and open the door to new thinking?

We’d like to hear from more people on these key questions for the industry now and going forward. Please add your responses to the Key Questions, and register here to join the discussion at the Policy Conference.

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