Key Points from the Thematic Hearing on Energy and Waste

Key points:

  • Model what a net-zero energy and waste Devon looks like in the long term. This will help identify the actions that are ‘no-regret’ that can be delivered now.
  • Involve communities. Everybody needs to be encouraged to do what they can.
  • Wind is the cheapest form of energy – the National Planning Policy Framework needs strong, joined-up lobbying to remove this restriction.
  • Grid reinforcement is necessary, combined with storage, flexibility services and demand reduction to minimise the extent of reinforcement.
  • Public sector has an opportunity to fill the void left from the removal of subsidies by purchasing energy direct from new generation.
  • Commercial waste is a problem – needs better regulation and more incentives to move up the waste hierarchy.
Key ActionsBarriers / issuesOvercoming barriers / Opportunities
Quadruple renewable electricity supply in order to meet the UK Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) recommendations to decarbonise heat and transport · National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)essentially embargoes new onshore wind development (the cheapest form of energy).
· Grid is approaching capacity in certain locations. 
· NIMBYism
· Subsidies have been withdrawn, and the subsidy free business models are only just emerging, not helped by uncertainty over future prices of grid electricity.
· Competition for land – about 10% of Devon’s
agricultural land will be required to produce onshore renewable energy.
· We’ve got institutions with vested interests that prevent rapid change.
· There is no smooth, coordinated process to take renewable energy projects through a consenting process. There is capital investment waiting but there isn’t clarity on how and when to connect.
· Devon County Council discourages schools from using Salix finance for low cost loans for renewable energy schemes.
· Fossil fuel energy is too cheap.
· Lobby government to fundamentally revise the NPPF, quickly.
· Grid reinforcement
· We need to get battery projects brought up the queue for grid
connections as this would enable more renewable energy to be connected using flexibility services.
· Community energy projects need further support – local
authorities to put loan funds in place.
· Encourage public-sector consumers to pay a small premium for renewable energy through Power Purchase Agreements direct with local generators to encourage local development of new capacity.
· Emphasise the energy demand reduction and energy efficiency messages to minimise the amount of new generation we will require – 62% of the measures in the CCC’s scenario require behaviour change at individual level.
· Incentivise commercial renewable energy deployment through business rate relief.
· Minimise VAT on renewable energy technologies.
· Focus on communities and their needs.
· People do not seek to use energy or create waste – they need services – cooking, warmth, lighting. How do we provide these in the lowest CO2 way? We need narratives that are empowering that will bring excitement to enable change. We have to talk about inequality at some stage – some people don’t have enough; others consume too much – we have to bring about change that is fair to all.
· Make the consenting process for new projects more straightforward and transparent.
· Encourage Devon County Council to enable schools to use Salix funding.
· Project payback has to be considered holistically and include health and carbon benefits.
· Develop guidance for renewable energy developers to help them understand the requirements of the planning system.
· Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks can be appropriate for the sighting of onshore renewable energy.
· Council tax changes could be used to incentivise renewable energy retrofit to homes.
Utilise biomethane – south west England is
currently the green gas capital of the UK.
This has a role to play in decarbonising
transport and heat, particularly as part of a
hybrid heat-pump and gas solution.
· Bleeding-edge innovation
· Need to understand the land-take implications
· Restrictive regulation – e.g. Wales and West can’t charge domestic heating consumers to get revenue to improve the gas distribution network for fuelling vehicles.
· Research the extent to which biomethane can be integrated into
a holistic energy and spatial -planning system.
· Lobby OFGEM for necessary changes.
· Learn from Nottingham – operating a fleet of gas buses.
Concentrate on promoting the waste hierarchy – reduce, reuse, recycle, energy recovery, landfill(30% of waste in household residual bins is food waste – 7 of the 8 local authorities are already collecting this).· Markets for recycled products.
· Need more local recycling and recovery facilities in the South West
· Commercial waste has much less regulation than local authority collected waste, and much still goes
to landfill.
· Quality of recyclate needs improving – right waste in the right bin.
· Recycling is currently incentivised by weight. Instead, incentivise the materials by their carbon intensity.
· Work with communities to improve understanding of recycling systems & how to use them effectively.
Enhance gas capture at landfill sites· Business case to recover landfill gas long-term is not good enough.· Provide incentives to landfill operators to recover landfill gas.
Decarbonise Energy from Waste Facilities · There is no business case for carbon capture and storage currently· Provide incentives to the Energy from Waste operators to use carbon capture technologies.
Engage communities more on energy, waste and carbon issues. Encourage individuals to take personal responsibility to calculate their carbon footprint.· Funding· Use payments from developers to raise awareness locally of carbon issues.
· Environmental levies tend to be placed on electricity bills. Perhaps these should be reallocated to other energy forms to encourage behaviour change?
Develop a holistic energy strategy for Devon· Spatial planning system is not designed to respond to a climate emergency – it doesn’t allow onshore wind, it doesn’t allow local energy standards for new buildings, it measures performance of local authorities on housing numbers not quality of place.
· Changing it will take a long time.
· Learn from local examples such as Cranbrook. But caution is advised – even if every home in Cranbrook had rooftop solar PV, 30ha of land would be required for solar PV to meet the energy requirements of the buildings.
Encourage pension funds to divest from fossil fuels· Fund managers are required to manage the funds for the best return.· Help fund managers identify diversification opportunities.