Chris Huhne’s first annual statement to Parliament on energy policy correctly identified that reducing demand is far more cost effective than building new generating capacity whether renewable, nuclear or burying the carbon problem in the ground. However, no mention was made of undoing some of the damage done by ill thought out legislation already on the statute books.
For example, should you be tempted by the forthcoming renewable heat incentive to invest in solar water heating, you will not be able to buy a washing machine that can use the carbon free hot water thanks to a botched piece of previous legislation (see here).
Before the Coalition Government introduces further tiers of legislation and incentives they really should re-examine the impact of previous regulations and develop a coherent approach to energy efficiency. We can make substantial inroads into our excessive energy demands through the application of some basic science to the design and refurbishment of buildings and their services. This will yield the desired results far more economically and without the unintended consequences that come about through manipulation of the market for low carbon technologies.
The Coalition now has the opportunity to reverse the approach of the previous Government by actually consulting with industry experts in order to examine the broader implications of their policy ambitions and so avoid such un-intended consequences. I do hope that they take it.