Rebecca Pow: We can bring down energy bills even further with new clean tech

By Rebecca Pow MP

By Rebecca Pow MP

The Government has a great record on bringing down bills - and new clean tech offers us the opportunity to cut them ever further

We know that policies to tackle climate change are both popular and necessary. Yet the untold story is how much money we are saving as a direct result of cutting emissions - and how much more we could save yet. British homes are now paying nearly £4 billion less for electricity and gas than they were in 2008. A significant proportion of this can be attributed to more efficient appliances and better insulated homes. The old energy trilemma - balancing up cost, carbon emissions and security of supply - could be solved: it turns out measures to tackle climate change are saving us money on our energy bills. The same dataset above shows that the average dual fuel bills was £6 lower (when adjusted for weather conditions, £36 without adjustment) in 2017 than in 2016, and more than £150 lower than in 2013.

I support the Government’s energy price cap - which should be seen as an intervention to rebalance a lopsided market. As the founder of clean tech firm Octopus recently said “For too long, the Big Six have been using every trick in the book to overcharge 17 millions households, with customers throughout the UK overpaying to subsidise the inefficiency of these bloated giants.”

Yet the deepest cost reductions will come from private sector innovation and new clean tech. Our Government has made a real commitment to promoting innovative technology, with significant investments in storage and offshore wind. As the massive cost reductions in wind power have shown this support is delivering results, and as the costs of renewables and batteries continue to fall, so too will our bills. However there is more that can be done. That’s why I’m calling for a public consultation on new technologies to enable companies to illustrate to the Government how their inventions can help achieve energy policy objectives - stimulating further investment and even greater innovation. It’s vital this covers applications not just for domestic households but also applications for business and commercial use.  

Take one example - Stored Passive Flue Gas. This British invention significantly improves the efficiency and domestic hot water performance of A rated condensing gas boilers, thereby helping households save around £100 a year on their gas and water bills because the boiler will be more efficient.  If fitted into every home with a gas boiler, we also could see savings of 2.6 million tonnes of CO2 each year. Reducing emissions and cutting bills.

Or take another snappily-named device related to gas systems - Metrology for Acoustic Recognition of Gas Optimised services (MARGO). Another British invention, this new smart billing system can more accurately measure the gas supplied to, and therefore the Co2 produced by, households already installed with existing mechanical gas meters. If widely installed it could reduce reported household CO2 emissions by 10% a year - equating to households saving 4 % a year on gas bills.

These are just two examples - smart technology from heat pumps to hydrogen boilers will soon be helping to cut emissions and costs across the country. The National Infrastructure Commission estimate that the new decentralised, flexible, smart grid could save consumers £8bn every year.

I hope that a new public consultation on clean tech could stimulate further ideas and investment and so lead to lower fuel bills and less emissions of CO2. This will benefit not just my constituents in Taunton Deane, but people everywhere by reducing fuel bills and creating a cleaner environment. With our technical expertise and existing experience UK has the opportunity to become a hub for investment in new clean technology. We should seize this opportunity to maintain our position of climate leadership and bring down bills for consumers.