I am pleased to be here this evening to say a few words at your annual Summer Reception.
It is always important to look back on what has been achieved in order to set our future course. I want to thank the Micropower Council, with particular thanks to Dave Sowden, for his contribution to the development of proposals and policies in support of the microgeneration sector.
I want to make clear the Coalition Government is committed to green growth and has high ambitions. The decarbonisation of our homes and the move to renewable and low carbon technologies is critical to our future energy goals. We know that the microgeneration sector has a part to play, with the potential to provide opportunities for business and jobs.
We have seen significant growth on the back of the Feed-In tariffs. I am pleased that working together we have made the necessary changes, which means the scheme is affordable and in a position to continue supporting the growth of the industry over the coming years.
With over 285,000 solar PV installations and the UK moving past 1 GW of installed capacity is no mean feat.
Under our new, improved scheme, we expect to get an additional 3.6 GW of capacity (620,000 installations) by 2015, but costing just £0.5 billion more. That’s three times as much electricity generation for less than one third of the cost.
I am also delighted to announce that we are on track to meet the RHI delivery timetable and will be shortly publishing our longer term proposals for budget management as well as proposals on biomass sustainability and air quality. I am also pleased to confirm that we are on track to launch the Domestic RHI consultation in September.
I want to recognise the work of the Microgeneration Government Industry Contact group. Micropower Council and many others in the industry have made contributions to its work programme, ably steered by the Energy Efficiency Partnership for Buildings. I think what we did last year to publish a Microgeneration Strategy was an excellent example of Government and Industry working in partnership - working in a mature and constructive way. And I am very pleased to report that we have maintained that positive engagement in the last year, and are keen to do so into the future.
I was pleased to see the Interim Report which the Microgeneration Government Industry Contact group produced, and to hear about the achievements over the year. We have now published the group’s Report on DECC’s website.
Let’s make no mistake. Tackling the non-financial barriers is important to the sustainability of the sector. Concentrating alone on the financial side, without building an industry and supply chain that is focused on quality with people having the right skills, will not do. The quality and reliability of installations will be fundamental to the prospects of attracting investments in the microgeneration market.
Let me very briefly highlight some of the achievements:
- Closer links between microgeneration and the development of Green Deal including input to the summer leaflet on Green Deal
- constructive dialogue between the Green Deal Sector Skills Alliance and the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS), on the development of competency requirements;
- input into the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) consultation on issues affecting microgeneration;
- increased focus and momentum on the design of microgeneration systems, and the development of design qualifications;
- the review of the warranties, guarantees and other consumer protection offers in the marketplace including the development of a guide for consumers; and
- the development of technology fact sheets building on work the Energy Saving Trust has done.
The Green Deal will help bill payers make energy saving improvements to keep their homes warm and cosy. With the Green Deal people will be able to pay for some or all of the work done with expected savings on energy bills. The Green Deal will open up the energy market. It will unlock unprecedented choice for consumers and it will empower small and medium sized enterprises - the engine of our economy - to enter and to innovate. The Green Deal will be a massive opportunity for businesses of all sizes. One of my priorities is to see the smaller businesses get a slice of the action too.
We’re on track to have the Green Deal framework in place by October allowing the market to come into being. We are continuing to work with delivery partners to start the Green Deal with an early period of focussed testing ahead of Green Deal plans being available to consumers from January.
I know that we still have work to do on policies where DCLG lead, such as, zero carbon homes and permitted development rights for ASHPS and micro wind turbines. In terms of Zero Carbon homes and non- domestic buildings, the Government remains committed to the 2016 and 2019 timescales.
I understand the interim Part L building regulations step remains on track for introduction in Oct 2013 but as DCLG said in the consultation, it is subject to addressing the previously published ‘one in one out/spending review’ commitments.
I can assure you that Ministers will reach a view on the 2013 uplift in due course, having analysed consultation responses, however, I am not in a position this evening to speculate on that.
Permitted development rights is in force for domestic installations and DCLG will be reviewing the last 12 months’ experience before making decisions on possible changes to the current requirements or extending these rights to the non-domestic sector. It is important that we constructively engage with this review.
In the coming months - Let’s begin to think outside the box and consider what an affordable, high performing de-centralised energy system would look like.
What do we need to do in the next 12 months to make that vision a reality?
What should be the scale of our ambition? How much of our total heat and electricity demand should come from microgeneration?
What is the deal for the consumer? For how long can we justify making consumers pay more for their electricity to support small scale generation?
Can microgeneration help with our energy balancing challenges? What sort of options for storage can we get from microgeneration?
Are we doing enough yet to tie our energy efficiency policies and our microgeneration policies together? Is there more we should be doing at the community level?
I will be saying more at the Nextgen conference in October when I hope we can set out an innovative and exciting programme to make that vision a reality.