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Government backs new industry smart power alliance

Power market stakeholders have united to form a new alliance on smart power that has received ringing, cross-party endorsement from government.

The Smart Power Industries Alliance, launched officially at an event in Westminster on Monday afternoon, brings together the UK’s leading energy trade associations to collaborate with the system operator National Grid to further the cause of a more decentralised energy economy.

Leading the initiative will be former energy minister Charles Hendry. Speaking at the launch event, Hendry said that SPIA promised to be a “unique gathering” bringing together representatives from across the energy industry.

“This is the chance for the UK to be a leader in energy, but it does mean we have to work together to predict and overcome the challenges that will be there,” he said.

The event was also attended by numerous MPs, including Labour’s Chi Onwurah and the Conservative MPs James Heappey and Richard Harrington.

Harrington, the current energy minister, described the initiative as a “fantastic thing” and welcomed the industry’s collaboration.

“Some people in the Conservative Party may say we’ve got enough experts. This is a sector where we certainly need them. I’m very pleased to be hearing what the experts in this room say over the weeks and months ahead. I wish you all the best of luck with it,” he said.

SPIA’s stated aim is to demonstrate the “positive consensus” for smart power across the entire electricity industry and also communicate the benefits of smart power with the general public.

To do so it has developed a list of five key asks for both government and energy regulator Ofgem, including;

  • Putting consumers at the heart of energy policy by enabling households to play an active role in the energy system;
  • To facilitate the creation of new markets for smart services, ensuring that all participants can compete on equal terms;
  • Taking a whole-system approach to power by creating incentives for heat, transport and power sectors to collaborate more effectively;
  • Accelerating the smart power transition by providing consistent policy and regulatory direction, and;
  • To make smart power a central cog within the industrial strategy, providing incentives for key sectors to invest in smart technologies.

Hendry also gave his opinion that the future power market would be defined less by natural resources, and more by technology and how it is deployed.

“The whole way we look at the market and our energy system is going to change. That means that we have a real focus on the determination to become a low carbon society and we need to do that in a way that engages consumers, but part of our focus has to be as well that we do this at the lowest cost, and how we drive forward the change that’s going to be necessary. That will need the government, industry and consumers working together.

“This is not something that’s unique to the United Kingdom, these are discussions that are happening in every country regardless of the state of their development.

“If we can do something here in the UK that gives them a real advantage, and helps us to move ahead of the crowd, then we have something we can show from the innovation of the UK and contribute to others,” Hendry added.

The full list of organisations involved in the launch includes; The Energy Networks Association, The Association for Decentralised Energy, The Renewables Energy Association, Energy UK, RenewableUK, Scottish Renewables, The Solar Trade Association, BEAMA, SmarterUK, The Electricity Storage Network and National Grid.