RWE’ chief economist – transparency the key to capitalising on energy efficiency

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The chief economist at RWE told an audience of power industry professionals this week that clarity in terms of statistics is vital for utilities keen to capitalise on the transformation to an energy-efficient Europe.

Graham Weale spoke at Platts European Power Summit on the theme, Energy Efficiency – Challenges and Opportunities for electric utilities.
Graham Weale of RWE
In his presentation Germany-based Weale pointed to the UK as an example of the ideal in terms of facilitating utilities wishing to grow their efforts in energy efficiency. “The way the British government is going about it – in terms of transparency and statistics is to be welcomed.”

Pointing to the comprehensive nature of statistics compiled in the UK with regard to insulation, boiler improvement, double glazing, and central heating systems, he said, “If you want to catch the low hanging fruit statistics are of the utmost importance.”

Energy efficiency initiatives are being planned at EU, city and company levels and Weale pointed to the work being done by the European Covenant of Mayors in terms of cities taking the lead on policy action throughout Europe as one such key to understanding where opportunities exist.

“These network of European cities are committing to reducing energy – reducing emission targets – exceeding the EU 20 per cent objective. Very large cities aim to reduce emissions by 40 per cent versus 2005.

“The mayors of 30 large cities have unveiled plans for joint public procurement to intensify efforts ahead of COP21.”

Weale said, what he called the ‘Green DNA’ of a company had increased in importance and made a direct contribution to company bottom lines, and added that utilities should look more to technologies such as condensing boilers, CCGT, combined heat and power, heat pumps and electric vehicles as the entire sector attempts to ‘recalibrate its models.’

The housing market is not, at least initially for heat pumps, where opportunities lie as there is a limited number of new buildings and gas prices are also detrimental.

If per annum reduction continues in power consumption, he said there may well be great potential for investment in electric vehicles, with power utilities in line to benefit.

“If 1.5 PA reduction continues – and by 2030 there is 20 per cent less energy consumption, the message is that half the loss could be compensated by electric vehicles and heat pumps. That would amount to 3 million sales of heat pumps per year and Electric Vehicles (EVs) accounting for 20 per cent of the car fleet.”

Weale also mentioned the results of recent analysis by the Dutch Association of Engineers, which looked at what changes would need to occur for energy demand to be halved.

In terms of where electricity demand was forecast to increase it was in the 100 per cent electrification of light transport, low temperature heat and the extensive use of combined heat and power.

“A plethora of legislation is working its way into the market with tentacles everywhere including directives to reduce emissions by building performance, eco design and energy labelling.”

“Some countries are doing better than others but it’s all starting to work and that is why energy demand is going downhill even as recession effects level off.”

Weale concluded his presentation by reinforcing the importance of access to comprehensive statistics. He said it would enable money to be spent more effectively through accurate monitoring and subsequent cost-benefit analyses.

He also had a warning for the political classes, in terms of fair and coherent taxation.

“Taxation of energy carriers has to be coherent with policy and provide the basis for the cheapest long term decarbonisation. So far taxation of different fuels is, to my mind, arbitrary.”

“Taxation of energy carriers need to be analysed root and branch to make sure of coherence with overall objectives. Electricity should not be prevented from playing its correct role in energy transformation.”

 



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