Power cuts plans by energy regulator Ofgem gives us a clear signal to cut consumption while keeping quality.
The plans, publicised in articles in the Financial Times and Daily Mail, would allow Ofgem to pay companies to halt production or curtail energy use between the hours of 4-8 p.m. The energy curfew would take pressure off the National Grid at peak time for household electricity consumption in winter periods.
Ofgem has repeatedly warned that Britain faces increased risks of blackouts and power shortages by the middle of the decade as the country closes a fifth of its power-generating capacity, with many coal and gas-fired power stations being closed or mothballed to meet government promises to cut carbon emissions.
While the Government has committed £110 billion of investment in new energy infrastructure, mainly in offshore wind farms and nuclear power stations, the full effect on energy production will take some years to be felt.
The voluntary power cuts plan is not without considerable cost and the Daily Mail advises that the burden of running the scheme is bound to fall on the shoulders of consumers through their bills.
The article says: “Hundreds of firms could sign up to the scheme, with the National Grid giving them a total of around £10 million for agreeing to take part. The bill could double or treble if the requirement to cut energy use is triggered.”
The amount paid would be determined through a tender the Grid aims to run this year.
Clearly, the effect of business power cuts on economic recovery would be substantial and we think there are better, more sustainable ways to take the strain off the Grid by cutting consumption of energy without affecting quality in both business and at home.
We have worked with businesses in the UK to cut their energy consumption by a massive amount, focusing on lighting, heating and water use. Our work with a wide range of clients in 2013 shows how energy consumption has been reduced by up to 85%.
And for a typical home in the UK, simply refitting with LED lighting would reduce annual energy consumption by 1699 kilowatt hours (kWh), from 2063.3kWh to just 364.4 kWh.
Remember too that these huge energy savings are achieved without affecting quality.
Surely, it is time for a concerted campaign to cut consumption, cut bills and cut carbon footprint and the costs would be swiftly repaid while being substantially less than inducements to turn off the power.
While the governing Coalition moved swiftly to reassure people that there was no threat of the lights going out next winter, key spokespeople advise that the UK faces an acute energy problem.
According to the Financial Times, Jeremy Nicholson, director of the Energy Intensive Users’ Group says: “Ultimately, the solution is to build more conventional power stations, rather than trying to constrain industrial energy demand,”
Last June, Ofgem warned that the safety cushion of spare power generating capacity – electricity margins – would fall to 2 to 5% in the winter of 2015-16, from more than 15% in 2011-12.
And Alistair Buchanan, Ofgem’s former chief executive, has said that even a 5% margin would be “uncomfortably tight”.
The FT also quotes Andrew Wright, Ofgem’s interim chief, saying that with power capacity being squeezed more quickly than previously expected, the measures were “an extra insurance policy” to protect consumers’ power supplies.
“Britain has one of the most reliable power systems in the world, but with margins tightening there can be no room for industry complacency on security of supply.”
We agree with John Redwood, the former Tory minister, who advises that the measures signal an imminent energy crisis.
In the FT, he says: “I have been forecasting that the previous government failed to take the decisions to keep the lights on, and we still haven’t managed to get the new power stations into place. It is inevitable that we are going to run out of energy. This is the first warning sign of what is happening.”
Talk to us about ways to cut your energy consumption, reduce your bills and cut your carbon footprint on 0333 123 5464.