The ADE hosted its Winter Reception on Wednesday 29 January. This annual event is always a fantastic networking opportunity, and a chance for the ADE to bring together members and colleagues to showcase the brilliant work being done in the sector.
This year was no different, with over 150 attendees working across a variety of decentralised energy technologies, descending upon the House of Commons.
Dr Alan Whitehead, MP for Southampton Test and ADE Vice President, opened the reception. As a long proponent of sustainable energy systems, he spoke of 2020 being “the year of decentralised energy”, with exciting times ahead for the industry.
Ian Calvert then took the chance share his initial observations in his new role as ADE Director, having taken up the position earlier this month. Ian stressed how important the ADE’s work is in ensuring that decentralised energy is positioned, as it should be, at the forefront of government policy as we look to achieve our net zero goals. He then went on to introduce our speakers for the evening, who would discuss the need for a just energy transition, looking at what is needed to achieve this in a national context, right down to the role of individual householders.
Next, the ADE was delighted to welcome Hilary Benn, MP for Leeds Central as guest speaker. With over twenty years of experience in government, he was able to offer perspective on the magnitude of the challenges we face, not only in our sector, but across society. Speaking on his time as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and his involvement in the development of the Climate Change Act (2008), Benn reflected on how far both policy and public opinion on climate change have come in only ten years. He noted that we do still, however, have a long way to go.
In order to achieve consensus on climate action, it is crucial that nations, localities or individuals are not made to feel guilty, and that we instead look for opportunities to empower and create positive change. - Hilary Benn
We can look locally to find examples of positive change, as Benn is seeing in his Leeds constituency where several heat networks have already been installed and are providing low carbon heat to buildings and homes across the city. Everything we do – how we eat, travel, play and work – relies upon energy, and the decentralised energy sector must play a key role in the transformational change towards a low carbon energy system, ensuring that no one is left behind.
To lead on from Hilary Benn was Ken Hunnisett of Triple Point, who kindly supported the ADE in hosting the Reception. Triple Point specialise in heat networks investment mangement, and have been instrumental in administering the HNIP funding scheme in partnership with BEIS. Echoing his fellow speakers, Ken spoke of record levels of support for clean energy and that this, coupled with the very real global climate risk, should drive the political will for action.
Support for clean and renewable energy is at an all time high. As a sector, we must look to harness this. - Ken Hunnisett
Ken went on to reiterate the positive impact that the HNIP scheme has had, boosting investment in the heat networks sector and enabling innovative projects to be progressed. We must use these positive case studies to push for further investment into clean energy systems.
To bring the conversation down to the individual level, Dr Joanne Wade OBE, Deputy Director of the ADE, addressed the audience to launch the ADE’s new report: “Laying the foundations for net zero: Putting households at the heart of the energy transition”. This report explores the role that householders play in our current energy system, and how we can ensure that they are empowered to play an active role in a just energy transition. It forms the first of three reports to be launched by the ADE in 2020; the following reports will explore the roles of businesses and the public sector in the energy system.
Joanne highlighted the importance of the three key pillars on which a successful transition for the household energy user can be built: better data, better buildings and better finance. While these are not the whole solution to decarbonising home energy use, they are fundamental within every solution.
Joanne ended with a clear call to action. As a sector, we have the solutions to decarbonise our energy system, we just need to ensure that they are heard by those who can make the necessary changes and come together to make it happen.
The ADE would like to extend its thanks to Triple Point and all speakers for their outstanding contribution to the evening.
Fnd out more about Triple Point.
Read the "Laying the foundations for Net Zero" Report.