2022 has been an unprecedented year for international upheaval and political turmoil here in the UK. Energy has rarely before been the focus of so much attention of almost every person across the world and for so many different reasons. That is why the REA has worked tirelessly throughout the year to campaign on behalf of our members in several key sectors, with numerous policy wins – outlined in the summary below.
The year began with the REA publishing a six-point plan to tackle the energy bill crisis, and four of our six recommendations have been taken up, including:
- Expanding eligibility and increasing value of the Warm Homes Discount – ensuring additional support for those who need it;
- Removing VAT on all domestic renewable and clean technology – helping households move away from fossil fuels (this was partially achieved but not on energy storage standalone installs;
- Establishing an effective home insulation scheme by Spring 2022 – ensuring all houses to be EPC rating C at a minimum, where technically feasible, by 2024/25 (this was partially achieved with the announcement of the new expanded ECO+ Energy Efficiency scheme from 2024);
- Introducing a Commercial Loan Scheme to support energy suppliers to manage elevated wholesale gas prices and protect customers from additional costs.
Following on from these positive moves, the REA continued the year with many cross-sector policy interventions on behalf of our members.
- Government listens to REA calls and moves to annual CfD auctions – A long-running REA campaign to increase the frequency of CfD auctions and provide an improved route to market for the industry.
- The REA was amongst the stakeholders who contributed evidence to the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee’s plastic waste inquiry. We were pleased that their report recognises an ‘emerging consensus that compostable material could serve a purpose in specific, targeted applications’, and now recommend that government make a decision on their role and make a number of recommendations important to their potential better understood and supported role in the circular bioeconomy.
- REA welcome the extension of Plug-in Van Grant after joining an industry coalition joint letter urging the government to provide more support to the nascent electric van market.
- Government listens to REA calls to cut tax on domestic renewables. This follows a long-running REA campaign that called for the reduction of VAT on all energy efficiency and on-site renewable installations, including low-carbon heating installations like heat pumps and biomass boilers.
- Reduced Business Rates for Onsite Renewable energy Generation and Storage. The government brought forward Business Rate exemptions for machinery used in onsite renewable energy generation and storage.
- REA welcomes EV infrastructure Strategy – In particular the focus on improving customer experience.
- Commitments to a Five-Fold increase in solar deployment by 2035 and new funding for hydrogen within the Energy Security Strategy.
- REA welcomes prospective change to Solvency II rules to ensure renewable and clean tech projects are deployed quickly.
- REA secures extensions on the introduction of new fuel quality standards for biomass heat applications to ensure compliance across the industry.
- REA contributed to a working group on organic fertilisers for Defra – receiving a thank you from the Secretary of State.
- REA Organics team were invited to two ministerial round tables – one on the targets for the Environment Act (and gained a partial win on targets under this legislation) and the other on the waste and resources consistency reforms (we are still awaiting the final policy decisions on this).
- REA hails record low CfD prices.
- REA Establish a Review of Electricity Market Arrangements (REMA) Working Group to Directly inform the Government review.
- The REA establishes a Working Group for Alternative Hydrogen Production Pathways to ensure their inclusion in the Hydrogen Business Model.
- REA welcomes National Grid’s Winter Demand Flexibility Scheme, as we had long called for an acceleration of smart system and flexibility policies that deliver benefits to the energy system and consumers.
- Government commits to developing an investable market for Long Duration Energy Storage by 2024, following REA Report calling for a cap and floor mechanism.
- Ban on the sale of peat for amateur horticulture. We supported the proposals in the consultation and called for peat to be banned for amateur horticulture. We are about to get involved with a project looking at suitable peat replacements.
- REA welcomes Government’s decision not to change the GGSS scheme tariff and submitted a firm and comprehensive response to this Call for Evidence, strongly discouraging BEIS from using the ATR mechanism to make significant changes to decreasing the GGSS tariffs.
- Publication of the EA’s appropriate measures guidance and SEPA’s BAT guidance – REA responded to both consultations and some of our recommendations were incorporated into the final version.
- The REA feed into the development of carbon capture business models.
- REA submit a comprehensive response to the Review of Electricity Market Arrangements.
- REA welcomes news of the Energy Bill driven forward in parliament.
- Publication of both the REA REview 2022 and the third edition of the Energy Transition Readiness Index Report.
- REA response to EV updates in the autumn statement. The Autumn Statement also offered several positive outcomes for the EV sector, including maintaining BIK incentives, a campaign that the REA participated in, and are delighted at the confirmation that they will increase by 1% per year.
- Following concerning signals from Government that solar developments would be de facto banned on agricultural land, Thérèse Coffey MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs stated in front of the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) that she would not be seeking to ban solar developments on 3b land. No formal policy as yet.
- The REA was offered and hosted a dedicated Roundtable with Chris Skidmore MP on his Net Zero Review, offering Policy Board members the chance to speak to him directly, and we followed up with a further meeting and consultation response.
- News that possible damaging proposals for the solar farm sector were reversed following REA, and wider stakeholder, interventions.
- The REA gave Oral Evidence to the BEIS Select Committee on the important role of Biomass in reaching Net Zero Targets.
- The REA secure improvements to Electricity Generators Levy (EGL) – REA and industry help secure key changes for the fuelled generators sector and indexation of proposals while continuing to oppose the proposals and offering constructive alternatives.
- Following a dedicated report, a long-running campaign and being invited to give evidence in Parliament and numerous parliamentary meetings, support for geothermal in the UK may be returning, with recommendations that Government commit resources to a dedicated support scheme from an influential Parliamentary committee.
- REA welcomes BEIS’s release of new hydrogen policy publications following joint industry campaigning and letters to get the Energy security Bill back on the political agenda.
Media Coverage, Political Engagements and Industry Events
As well as the REA’s work with Westminster, the REA has featured across a wide range of coverage in national outlets in 2022 including the Times, the i, the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Express, Financial Times, Politics Home, the Guardian and CapX, as well as on TV radio and online. You can listen to our CEO Dr Nina Skorupska CBE feature in Ed Miliband and Geoff Lloyd’s podcast ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’ here.
Furthermore this year, Nina gave evidence at the Environmental Audit Committee’s Inquiry into Deep Geothermal and gave evidence to the UK House of Lords Economics Affairs Committee on UK energy supply and investment. Most recently, she also provided evidence to the BEIS Select Committee on the role of bioenergy in helping to decarbonise the UK power system. Finally, alongside the REA being the secretariat for the Electric Vehicle (EV) APPG, Nina spoke at the most recent Hydrogen APPG, keeping up the momentum for hydrogen following our 2022 Hydrogen Conference.
Lindsay Barnett, REA Director of Membership, Marketing & Events, reflects on the REA’s jam-packed year of events, both big and small:
“Thank you to all members and sponsors for your support and for making our events such a success this year. It’s been a great pleasure working with you all. We hope you’ve found them interesting and extremely valuable! From continuing industry favourites such as Green Gas Day which has been running since 2012, to running an official side event at COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, the REA has continued to deliver for our members and the sector as a whole, when it comes to the vast array of events, meetings and webinars we’ve held throughout 2022.
“Personal highlights included, the REA Organics Conference and its extremely chilly site visit – it was great to see you all again and we’ll be launching the 2023 conference in January – and, most recently, our Hydrogen Conference which had a jam-packed agenda shedding light on current and future plans in the sector, as well as celebrating industry excellence at the British Renewable Energy Awards (BREA), which is always extremely rewarding.
“Do keep an eye out for our superb array of events and member meetings in 2023 which we believe will bring real value to your business. The REA looks forward to seeing you at these, and in meantime, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!”