Can a new UK government supercharge clean energy’s revolution?

Jul 1, 2024 | News

A pioneering green company believes that a new UK government can bring the clean energy revolution to the forefront. Its policy leader outlines’simple’ and ‘affordable’ plans he believes will be transformative.

Could a clean energy revolution return to the UK? With energy prices expected to fall for the very first time since 2022, and an election that has shaken up the political landscape in the UK, could it be on the cards again? Kit Dixon, the head of policy for Good Energy, a company that only uses renewable energy, says there are many reasons to be optimistic. He says that a new government can transform our energy system in an affordable and easy way. He has also spotted climate-friendly policies in the manifestos of the main parties.

Dixon says that the energy policies of the major parties are mainly focused on the big issues – system reforms, net-zero goals, offshore wind, and hydrogen. While it is important that those who are responsible for the infrastructure of our energy systems take full responsibility, Good Energy believes that local and personal changes will be crucial in the coming years. What might the political support look like for that smaller-scale shift?

Start by looking at the roofs of Britain. The cost of energy has risen since 2022, partly because we have been buying it from abroad. Decentralising the system, and investing in local solar, is a cost-saving, sustainable solution for Good Energy. Dixon explains that installing solar on roofs is a great idea because the electricity travels a shorter distance. “It uses space that would otherwise be unused, and allows homes and businesses to benefit, as well as potential neighbours.”

Good Energy has all you need to make your home greener. Learn more about solar power, heat pumps, and truly renewable energy. Save 125 PS with a 50% discount on a heat-pump design consultation when you quote POSITIVE50.

This type of green energy improvement could be a good fit with other areas that need development, like housing. Take the Labour Party’s pledge to build 1,5m homes in the next five year. If developers were forced to install solar panels on the roofs of all the buildings they created, the impact would be enormous: “By installing a typical size 4kW array on every roof, this new capacity could provide about 5% domestic electricity consumption,” Dixon explains.

The new government does not have to take on the transformation our energy system. A shrewd policy can encourage suppliers to play a role in the transformation of our energy system. Over the past 25 years, suppliers have introduced green energy tariffs in response to a growing demand for renewable energy. Dixon says this is a good step, but better regulation would help us achieve the scale of renewable systems we’ll need in order to meet our net-zero goals. “The problem is renewable energy certificates aren’t always directly tied to the actual energy purchased,” he says. “Suppliers are able to purchase power from the wholesale market that may have been produced using fossil fuels and then buy renewable certificates in order to be able to sell this carbon-intensive power to their clients as green.

“Another problem is that certificates are valid for a full year. Certificates generated during periods of high wind or sunshine can be used to ‘green up’ electricity consumed at times when the majority of power is actually generated by gas power plants. A supplier, for example, could purchase a certificate related to solar generation during a Sunday afternoon of August when electricity demand was low and solar production was high. It could use that certificate to inform a customer that their power is renewable during a dark and cold December evening,” Dixon explains.

Kit Dixon, the head of policy for Good Energy, says that a new government can transform our energy system in a cost-effective and easy way. Image: Good Energie

Dixon explains that Good Energy is different from other energy providers because they respond to the consumer demand for greener energy by “finding renewable generators to work with, and contributing additional capacity to grid, instead of just using what’s there,” explains Dixon. He and his colleagues are in favor of a policy requiring others to do the exact same thing. The power generated would be cleaner, but more importantly, the generators that resulted would contribute to an overall renewable energy system that is more robust.

He says that energy suppliers and consumers can also work together to use electricity more sustainably. This is why Good Energy welcomes political support for smart meters. They consider the devices to be key in the adoption of energy-saving solutions. Why? Dixon says that they can provide the data necessary to allow suppliers pass on incentives to their customers (as well the cost savings resulting from this) to use electricity during certain times of the day.

The price difference for charging an electric car, for example, is significant. Dual rate meters allow customers to share with their supplier if they are using energy during peak times (usually the daytime) or off-peak times (usually the night). These windows of several hours offer less detailed information than smart meters, which can update every half-hour. Customers can adjust their energy usage to save money, while suppliers are able to record usage more accurately and pass on the savings.

“Putting solar on roofs makes perfect since the electricity travels a shorter distance.” Photo: Good Energy

It also works in the opposite direction, allowing those who are able to generate their energy, such as those who use solar panels, to get more accurate payments for any energy they export to the national grid. Dixon believes that solar panel owners can earn more money with a smarter reader and more detailed data.

Good Energy would also like to see other simple energy switches in manifestos to help bill payers save money. Take the levies that are often added to electricity bills to support social initiatives such as renewable obligation and warm home discount. The Good Energy team acknowledges the positive impact these schemes have, but believes that they can be funded in a more equitable way.

Decentralising your system and investing in local PV is a cost-effective, sustainable solution

Dixon points out that “often fuel-poor households live in homes with poor insulation, resulting in high energy consumption, so they will pay more on these social programmes than those who can afford it.” If we instead moved the levies to general taxation, “it would be a fair and equitable way to pay for essential green infrastructure that we need to decarbonise the energy system while maintaining support delivered through some schemes “.

What else does the manifesto of the major parties have to offer? Dixon is pleased that Labour has pledged to reinstate the ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 and praises the Liberal Democrats’ proposal for “rooftop Solar Revolution” solar panels on housing. He also applauds Labour’s target of a zero-carbon electric system by 2030 and the Conservatives pledge to triple our offshore wind power. Other parties have also made election promises, such as the SNP’s pledge to decarbonise one million homes by 2030 and the Greens’ commitment to achieve net-zero energy by 2040.

If these policies are followed, they could help tackle the climate crisis. “If these kinds of numbers and capacities can be achieved, then it will reduce the UK’s carbon emissions,” says Mr. Henson.

Main Image: artistGNDPhotography

Be part of the Solution

Positive News helps more people than ever get a balanced, uplifting view of life. While other news outlets are dominated by doom and despair, our solutions journalism is here to empower you and support your wellbeing.

Our reporting is not free and as an independent, non-profit media organization, we depend on the financial support of our readers. If you appreciate what we do, and have the means to do so, please support our team by making a regular contribution or a one-off donation.

Donate once at PS1 or join 1,400+ other contributors who average PS3 or more each month. You will directly fund the production and dissemination of our stories, allowing our solutions journalism to reach more people.

Join our community and together we will change the news for the better.

Support positive News

Share to:

Recommended Articles