It will come as no surprise to readers when I say we are in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis.
Global demand and concerns on UK energy supply arising from the Russia and Ukraine conflict have led to energy bills alone rising by 54% on average in the UK, leaving many people faced with the devastating choice of putting food on the table or heating their homes.
We’re also under increasing pressure to seriously tackle climate change, with the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report warning the window to limit global warming to safe levels is rapidly closing.
Reducing global warming will require major transitions in the energy sector, but energy should be affordable for the end user.
In his Spring Statement, chancellor Rishi Sunak reduced tax on items such as solar panels, insulation and heat pumps from five percent to zero. The government states a typical family having rooftop solar panels installed will save more than £1,000 in total on installation, as well as £300 annually on their energy bills.
While AREG welcomes the intention to make the country more energy efficient and lower our dependency on imported gas, we recognise this initiative doesn’t help low-income households who don’t have the capital to make the initial investment.
AREG is calling for a scheme through local authorities to administer advice and services for low-income households looking to make their homes more energy efficient. Here in the north-east of Scotland the local authorities already have local energy advice services to make homes more energy efficient, helping the environment and household budgets.
AREG was encouraged by the UK Government’s recent energy strategy and we welcome the efforts being made to address the future security of UK energy supply including the development of renewable energy solutions.
Aberdeen City Council has already demonstrated its ability to be at the forefront of any renewable energy initiatives with its £19m Hydrogen Bus Project and the largest hydrogen fuel cell installation in the UK is now in place at P&J Live. The Donside Hydro Project at Tillydrone is harnessing energy from the river Don to create electricity which will be sold to the national grid – so it is happening at a very local level and AREG is well placed to support and promote these renewable energy projects.
In the last two years we’ve seen AREG membership grow from 140 to more than 240 organisations which represent every facet of the supply chain. We’ve also established networks to allow members to discuss and provide solutions within relevant forums.
These cover communications, supply chain, technology and policy, with plans to launch a new renewable energy young professionals network (RE-YP) soon.
We’re aware of the challenges ahead but will continue to work to represent our members to face climate change and the energy supply concerns together.