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How Are UK Renewable Energy Rules Changing?

Aug 07 2017 Comments 0

The government energy regulator Ofgem has announced changes to its legislation which will come into effect over the next year. By adjusting the rules surrounding the purchase and sale of solar power to and from the National Grid, the changes will save millions of homeowners money – especially those with solar panel technology in their homes.

What changes are proposed?

At the same time as the industry is considering a fresh approach to natural gas network surveys, Ofgem has announced an overhaul of its renewable energy policies. At present, every time a homeowner with solar panels fitted onto their roof imports electricity into their house or exports it back to the grid, they are levied a small tariff.

However, the government have realised that this system is counterproductive, since it discourages flexibility in the owner’s use of their electricity. According to the director of the National Grid Nicola Shaw, if commercial businesses and private households made small tweaks to their energy consumption habits, then fluctuations in the grid could be slashed by between 30% and 50%.

Obviously, this could have a massive beneficial effect both financially and environmentally, since energy use at peak times could be reduced. As a result, Ofgem has announced that it will be re-evaluating its tariffs in a bid to encourage more homeowners to lessen their energy consumption when the grid is in its highest demand.

Who will benefit?

Initially, those who have solar panels connected to their homes will be the first to reap the benefits, as the charges which are currently levied when selling energy back to the grid will be lessened or waived altogether.

However, in the longer term, there is scope for everyone to benefit. If a home or business owner is able to connect his appliances to a Smart-enabled device, he could optimise his energy use and slash his bills. For example, he could switch off his freezer (for only a few minutes, so as not to compromise the edibility of its contents) or turn down his air conditioning during peak times of energy consumption.

Collectively, these changes to the legislation could save consumers all over Britain anywhere between £17 billion and £40 billion over the next 33 years, say Ofgem. Meanwhile, the National Grid can also benefit; traders will be capable of accumulating all of the tiny savings made by individual consumers and selling them back to the Grid in one huge energy-saving package. As such, the changes spell good news for everyone.

Smart technology the way of the future

Greg Clark, who currently works as the UK’s Business Secretary, announced a further £246 million investment into British industry, focusing primarily on energy. Among other incentives, he unveiled a competition for start-ups to develop battery technology, at which the UK is currently lagging behind other countries.

One possible solution could be the widespread adoption of Elon Musk's solar roof tiles, which combine photovoltaic technology with Tesla’s battery innovation, but the UK is hoping to find its own answer to the conundrum.

Combining sophisticated battery solutions with Smart-enabled devices could certainly enhance efficiency and save consumers and companies vast sums of money. However, critics have warned that bringing the energy industry into the digital age could make it susceptible to hackers, spyware and malware. Ofgem has indicated that it intends to put measures in place in order to prevent such eventualities.

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