Boosting energy efficiency and engaging consumers were the main topics under the spotlight at the latest event within the Guardian’s Big Energy Debate programme.
"Overall, it was a well-attended event with a thought-provoking discussion."
Richard Court, Head of Commercial for Gas Distribution.
Head of Commercial for Gas Distribution Richard Court represented National Grid at a Parliamentary round table at the House of Commons, hosted by Shadow Energy Minister Tom Greatrex.
The panel included Board Member for the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology Lord Oxburgh, Lib Dem Peer Lord Teverson, Labour Peer Lord O’Neill, Energy & Climate Change Committee chairman Tim Yeo MP, and John Robertson MP, who also sits on the committee.
During the event, the panel members discussed the policy drivers required to ensure a better level of engagement with consumers in order to understand how barriers to energy efficiency in the UK can be overcome.
They were generally in agreement on the benefits of demand-side reduction, with Tim Yeo suggesting that hospitals could play a key role in that market.
However, the advantages of smart meters and concerns about the growth of fuel poverty in Britain were the main bones of contention, with John Robertson asking what industry was doing to help families struggling to pay energy bills.
Richard Court explained that, with homes that were off the gas grid facing higher-than-average fuel bills, National Grid was supporting the work of the Fuel Poverty Advisory Group and a national database of off-grid homes was being developed.
Richard told the panel that National Grid recognises that extending the gas network isn’t always the most commercially viable option to future proof energy-inefficient UK homes. However he stressed that, the company is committed to identifying viable and affordable solutions in order to address fuel poverty in these off-grid homes.
Summing up after the event, Richard said: “John Robertson also suggested using information from smart meters as a tool to ensure vulnerable customers were safeguarded against potential hypothermia during winter and weren’t left unable to use their heating. Overall, it was a well-attended event with a thought-provoking discussion.”
The Guardian has teamed up with National Grid, Siemens, the Crown Estate, the Nuclear Industry Association, Energy Networks Association, Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Institution of Engineering and Technology to lead The Big Energy Debate and explore the energy crisis facing the UK.
Discussions at previous events around the UK have ranged from the short-term nature of political decision-making to the barriers preventing businesses investing in energy-efficiency measures.
Click here to read a previous report on a round-table event in Bristol.
Click here for more on the Guardian Big Energy Debate.