Energy Efficiency Mission Launch Event Summary

Report from the Energy Efficiency Mission Launch Event, The Royal Society, Monday 4 February 2013. Department of Energy and Climate Change

This was Energy Minister Greg Barker’s show – and some show. He pulled in high level support and you don’t get much higher than ex-President Clinton, Arnie Schwarzenegger and a surprise personal appearance by David Cameron. Not to mention the Secretary of State for Energy Ed Davey, the chair of EEDO (The Energy Efficiency Deployment Office) Peter Boyd and the Deputy Mayor of London Richard Blakeway.
Barker seemed on relaxed form announcing this major government initiative to make sure that energy efficiency is no longer the Cinderella of the energy sector, pointing out a strongly supporting letter from Bill Clinton. Barker claimed the Coalition’s level of commitment, exceeding their initial 10% lead-by-example savings target, could not have been achieved without buy-in from the PM… and to reinforce the point here, we got suave Dave himself to say just that…

“But first… I nearly forgot” (Barker had forgotten) a video contribution from Arnold Schwarzenegger – Governor of the state of California which is 40% more energy efficient than the rest of the United States. After initial back-slapping praise for Cameron we had classic Arnie ending with “I am in Vienna so unfortunately I can not be with you – they don’t clone people yet and [stares] I’m not really the Terminator. But remember if you need help [stares] I’m here for you.”

Next on, Cameron rightly asked how you follow that and quipped about never getting Arnie to say “Hasta la Vista Gordon”, then came the Mission statement:

  • Firstly there’s a lot going on in energy efficiency but we need it pulling together with some real drive.
  • Secondly a new mantra that with all the energy issues of supply and high prices, energy efficiency provides the best way to… economic growth! Also extra competitiveness for UK plc providing us with services and products which all help win the international race.
  • Cameron ran through the wide range of existing initiatives and pointing out that Renewable Heat payments, the Green Investment Bank, the CRC and the Green Deal are all unique internationally ending “I want Greg to bring together a coherent plan…” using experts and the consultations to build a framework so that Britain is open for business winning the global race and doing it in a way that is green.
  • The Sun newspaper asked the Prime Minister how, after a modest start by the Green Deal, the public can be persuaded to participate given the very high interest rates offered. The reply was that the scheme required a steady start and that it will take time to build up understanding of the scheme’s benefits.
  • Greg Barker then spoke of his efforts to bring Energy Efficiency to the forefront, noting that the Department of Energy had sections for Nuclear, oil and gas but not energy demand reduction: The Energy Efficiency Deplyment Office had been created a year ago; the Electricity Market Reform legislation and the Energy Bill consultations will ensure that the Market takes energy efficiency seriously.
  • Talks by the ministers and worthies were followed by workshops in six key areas: Electricity Demand Reduction (a recently closed consultation), green growth, finance, the power of data, getting to the Board and the power of communities. Barker’s subsequent summary of their conclusions was predictably bland. A final set of talks included the Deputy Mayor of London offering the GLA as a one-stop shop for those looking to achieve energy reductions in the Capital.
  • Measurement and Verification was rightly hailed as the key issue – to establish both the savings achieved and for electricity demand reduction.

So where does this get us? Is this Groundhog Day (all over again) or is this the blinding LED light of the energy efficiency future? We will see but there was considerable promise in the array of “faces” and the idea that energy efficiency is seen as a route to economic competitiveness and also growth, the current Holy Grail.

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