It is claimed that the world of energy is changing more quickly and more fundamentally than at any point since the Industrial Revolution.
With the uptake of electric vehicles and other developments in technology, from a smarter grid to energy storage as well as micro and macro forms of electricity generation, such as solar power, the lines between energy producers and energy consumers are becoming less clear.
GUERNSEY IS NOT ALONE IN KEEPING PACE WITH THE CHANGING ENERGY WORLD
We are increasingly seeing a collective of ‘prosumers’ who both produce and store electricity, whilst also intermittently consuming from the grid. The rapidly improving economics of renewable power supported by the growing prospect of cost-effective electricity storage has been hugely influential to the change. Moreover, commentary on energy transition is concluding that these changes are enabled by technology and government policy, but are driven by social imperative. The pace of change may therefore be a lot faster than historic precedent in the energy world.
Given the importance of the electricity sector to our functioning society, there is an urgent need to ensure the transition into the future is smooth, affordable, effective and delivers the best outcomes for Guernsey.
To achieve this, a complete review of the structure of customers’ bills is critical to ensure that everyone, the ‘self- generators’ and those who rely solely on Guernsey Electricity’s services, pays fairly and equitably for their use of the electricity infrastructure. Continuing with the existing structure of bills, created in 1993, puts customers at risk of increasing prices to cover the costs of those who generate their own electricity but still rely on the grid for backup.
Moreover, changes in the energy market must be understood within the context of any new policies on energy and security of electricity supply.
As the States of Guernsey develops its energy and environmental policies, which will inform renewable energy targets over the next five years, our community must be heard to ensure affordability of utilities is at the forefront of decision making.
Early policy direction for the island, including environmental aspirations, will also be pivotal, especially in setting the direction for future infrastructure investments in the power, heat and transport markets. This direction will be instrumental to to what will be Guernsey Electricity’s largest ever capital investment, a proposed second subsea cable direct to France, increase Guernsey’s access to affordable, low-carbon electricity and improve security of supply for the island.
Guernsey is not alone in keeping pace with the changing energy world; other countries in Europe are also making significant strides to ensure policy aligns with these changes. In many European countries the use of coal for power generation is being phased out by government intervention, the use of hydrocarbons in transport is being reviewed with targets set for phasing out of petrol and diesel vehicles, and most countries are installing large levels of renewable generation, with the first few non-subsidised projects planned. It is clear that there is much we can learn from our European counterparts.
Therefore, the island and Guernsey Electricity must keep pace with the significant changes in the energy market to protect customers from being on the receiving end of unfair and higher than required utility bills. We should continue to strive towards supplying low-carbon electricity from renewable sources in Europe and on-island solar power, securing the island’s electricity supply and reducing our reliability on harmful fossil fuels. However, early policy direction from the States is fundamental to such investments and how we progress as an island in the future energy world.