The SPIA launched in Parliament’s Portcullis House yesterday
Cross party group of MPs, National Grid, RenewableUK, the REA, Solar Trade Association and others establish joint body to promote decarbonisation via smart technologies
MPs and ministers from across the political spectrum have given their backing to an “unprecedented” new energy industry-wide partnership aimed at promoting and developing the role of energy efficient smart power technologies in the UK’s low carbon transition.
Officially launched in Westminster yesterday, the Smart Power Industries Alliance (SPIA) is made up of several renewable energy trade bodies, as well as network operators, electricity storage and flexibility providers, IT firms, tech bodies, and the National Grid.
The new body is aimed at giving households, businesses and communities “greater control over the way they use and consumer their energy”, by working to boost development, uptake and regulatory support for smart technologies. Such technologies include those which enable users to sell their own electricity, boost efficiency, support electric vehicle use, store clean power, manage demand, and trade power between countries, the SPIA said.
SPIA chair and former Conservative MP Charles Hendry, who served in government as energy and climate change minister until standing down in 2015, said the size and breadth of the new body “reflects consensus across the power sector that the future of energy is smart”.
“This is a long-term change programme, so we will be working together to ensure smart power has cross party support and that it remains at the top of the energy agenda,” he explained, adding that the SPIA was already working on a range of projects to help deliver a smarter UK energy system.
Members of the new Alliance include RenewableUK, the Renewable Energy Association (REA), the Solar Trade Association (STA), the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE), Scottish Renewables; the Energy Networks Association (ENA), TechUK initiative SmarterUK, the Electricity Storage Network, Energy UK, and IT and tech trade body BEAMA.
Don’t tell me that the energy sector can’t speak with a common voice. Industry bodies unite to talk #smartenergy at the launch of #SPIA https://t.co/s1GaAbzBWP
— Emma Pinchbeck (@ELPinchbeck) October 23, 2017
The members are calling on the government to put into action five key principles to boost the smart energy transition over the coming decade: putting consumers at the heart of energy policy; facility creation of new markets for smart tech; taking a whole-system approach to smart energy; supporting a rapid transition to smart power with consistent policy and regulatory direction; and making smart power central to the UK’s Industrial Strategy.
“We want to explain the huge environmental, social and economic benefits to the public, and to help ensure these benefits are accessible to all in the new era of smart energy,” added Hendry. “Many people are already generating their own power and engaging with smart applications, but smart power has the potential to transform all our lives for the better, in ways that are creating real excitement today.”
The SPIA said the development of smart infrastructure could deliver £13bn of Gross Value Added benefits to the UK, as well as £5bn of potential exports through to 2050, and the creation of around 8,000 to 9,000 jobs in the 2020s and 2030s through the development of smart grids.
Moreover, the body highlighted Imperial College London research showing that a smart energy system could save businesses and households up to £8bn per year by 2030 through more flexible and efficient processes that use fewer generators and less network capacity.
Supporting the launch in Parliament yesterday were Energy minister Richard Harrington, Conservative MP James Heappey, and Chi Onwurah, Labour’s shadow minister industrial strategy, science and innovation. Lord Adonis, chair of the National Infrastructure Commission and former transport secretary under the Labour government, also appeared that the launch event.
Speaking at the launch, Harrington described the new Alliance as “absolutely fantastic” adding that he would be “delighted any time in the future” to work with it.
“Some people in the Conservative Party may say that we’ve got enough experts, well I think in nearly every sector we don’t have enough experts, and in this one we certainly need experts,” said Harrington. “I’m very pleased to be hearing what the experts in this room have to say over the days, weeks and months ahead in this sector.”