Spring Statement 2022: a comment from our founder Simon Daniel
The current global political landscape has sped up the need for countries to transition away from fossil fuels and to build a reliable energy sector that is powered by renewables.
Our founder Simon Daniel recently shared his thoughts on the topic with Clean Energy Pipeline, the leading independent news source for the renewables finance industry. He recognised that we must act now to avoid a climate catastrophe and create a cleaner and greener energy system. He discussed the possible solutions to address this energy crisis and the strain this is putting on UK households.
What are your views on the recent Spring Statement?
The Spring Statement recognised the declining price of solar as a solution to fighting climate change, with the removal of VAT on solar panels and other home energy-saving measures such as insulation and heat pumps. However, this needs to go further in light of the latest IPCC report and the UK’s own net zero goals. The VAT cut must be extended to other cleantech products such as home storage batteries and EV chargers if we are to considerably support the UK’s shift to clean energy.
The energy security strategy failed to address energy efficiency and support UK households in the short term. While some leeway is expected as we navigate the current energy climate, the government must remember that initiatives like cutting fuel duty for a year contradict proposals to move away from ICE vehicles to EVs by 2035, increasing the UK’s carbon footprint during a climate crisis.
Capping VAT and calculating the green levy based on last year’s energy and fuel bills will help in easing the cost of living while helping the country stay on track for its climate goals. To successfully deliver on these commitments, industries and businesses will need to closely collaborate and ensure all focus is on delivering them at a pace and scale we have yet to see.
Do you think technology can have a leading role in supporting the transition to a greener energy sector?
The focus currently must be on producing short term solutions to help us navigate the energy crisis. Digital technology developments will enable us to make faster changes.
AI will play a key role in managing real-time fluctuations in energy demand, utilising information and data to balance the grid and energy supply. Along with machine learning, AI can predict household solar generation and consumption to produce the right amount of energy at the correct times. This will ultimately save customers money on their energy bills.
Focusing more on innovation in smart technologies to connect and control large fleets of distributed solar, storage and heat devices is also crucial in the short term. However, the government needs to revisit its current barriers to adopting these technologies.
Should the public also change its behaviour in response to this energy crisis?
With rising energy costs, public tolerance for achieving our net zero goals has waned. By reducing prices for them in the short term, we can hope for better public support for long term strategies.
The government needs to urgently focus on changing behaviours within the public to ensure households create a daily change that will allow them to become active members of the energy landscape and create local energy security. It is simply not enough to nudge people in the right direction now; behaviour changes are needed financially and societally; therefore, a more extensive programme on government energy efficiency is crucial.
While cutting VAT on solar panels to 0% is a great start, the government should implement further incentives to encourage more people to change their willingness to adopt net zero policies. For example, the UK should look to countries like Italy, offering a 110% tax deduction for renovations that improve energy efficiency as a potential incentive.
Above all to reduce energy costs today, and properly plan to achieve net zero, we need solutions deployed today that help to reduce consumption and halve carbon this decade.