Friday, 8 December 2017

The 'natural monopolies' of district heating networks and Big Energy >>> competition watchdog to investigate

There are many ways out of our quandaries over energy:
Futures Forum: "Energy economics are changing rapidly and so the momentum is towards decentralised, smart and flexible energy systems."

But what do we mean by 'decentralised, smart and flexible energy systems'?

One way would be to challenge the big power wielded by the big power companies:
Futures Forum: How to beat the Big Six >>> deprivatise energy

Another would be to cut ties with them altogether:
Futures Forum: Going off-grid
Futures Forum: Going off-grid with Ben Fogle

What might be a way between would be 'community energy' projects:
Futures Forum: "Community energy offers a long-lasting solution that protects against ‘big six’ price rises and pumps money back into local areas.”
Futures Forum: "In most other countries, renewable energy projects are owned by local communities: and so there's a huge groundswell of support for them."
Futures Forum: Local energy can be very profitable: "Seizing the opportunity of decentralised energy generation can provide new income streams for communities and councils."
Futures Forum: "From ‘dirty’ energy to sustainable energy" >>> UK Energy Policy and the role of community energy >>> Prof Catherine Mitchell to talk in Exeter Tues 10th February

Especially if they rely on renewables, as is happening elsewhere:
Futures Forum: District heating systems run on waste... from Scandanavia

And indeed, 'district heating systems' seem to be the way ahead - and more of them are being set up - as reported in the Independent yesterday:

... heat networks – systems that heat multiple homes from one central source – currently supply about half a million UK homes through about 17,000 networks. Between now and 2030, the number of customers using heat networks is expected to grow significantly to around 20 per cent of all households...

And the Association for Decentralised Energy is very much behind these:
The Association for Decentralised Energy | Combined Heat & Power, District Heating & Cooling, Demand Side Services

Particularly in the light of a new survey out:

The survey results were welcomed by director of the Accociation for Decentralised Energy, Dr Tim Rotheray. "This report demonstrates that heat networks can alleviate fuel poverty at the same time as move to a low carbon energy system," he said.

However, 'decentralised' is a bit of a misnomer, when it is big energy who is behind it: Siemens, for example, are a member of the ADE. 

And EON are the company behind the network in Cranbrook:
Futures Forum: District heating is locking Cranbrook residents into 'a costly scheme who have no right to switch' > the story continues

Because, there are other issues:
Cranbrook: bad news for E.on? Regulator to investigate district heating networks | East Devon Watch

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is concerned many customers, a large proportion of whom live in social housing, may be unable to easily switch suppliers. It believes they could also be locked into very long contracts – some for up to 25 years – and there is a risk they may be paying too much or receiving a poor quality of service.
The competition watchdog will examine three themes: whether customers are aware of the costs of heat networks, whether the networks are natural monopolies and the impact of differing incentives for builders, operators and customers of heat networks and the prices, service quality and reliability of the networks.
Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli said: “Heat networks can play an important role in cutting carbon and keeping down energy bills for customers. However, we have concerns that this sector may not be working as it could be for the half a million homes heated by these systems now and the millions that may be connected in the future. That is why we’re taking a closer look at this market to ensure that heat network customers get a good deal on their energy now and in the future.”
The CMA is inviting comments – until 12th January 2018 – on the issues raised from interested parties such as heat network builders, operators, suppliers and their representatives as well as consumer groups.

Energy Live News – Energy Made Easy – Competition watchdog launches market study into heat networks
UK domestic heat networks face major review by competition regulator | The Independent

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