Ending Fuel Poverty

Nationalisation

Through nationalisation our aim is to break up the verticals to ensure no companies own source to supply and that all renewable supply is publicly owned. The energy market can be broken down to these streams:

 StreamDescription
1SourcingRenewable sourcing from wind and solar tend to be privately owned. The model allows for price gouging.
2Generation and StorageGeneration can be from both renewables and non-renewables. It should be thought of as the consolidation of any source comprised of a number of suppliers or installations.
3TransmissionKnown as the National Grid, it is actually made up of two main arms. The National Grid Group manages the Grid while the National Grid operates the delivery infrastructure.
4Local DistributionOwned by a number of companies. Handles the energy from the grid to the local community.
5RetailThe companies that charge you, the customer.

The retail stream doesn’t have any intrinsic value except for its billing software. Key to its success is that it has credit availability. Credit allows it to purchase the energy in advance as the customer consumes it and then to charge the customer at a later date. Rise will not nationalise the retail stream as we simply will make it unnecessary. We will create a publicly owned energy retail company. Because this will be part of a vertical publicly owned energy network from source to supply there will be no need for customers to use the energy retail giants. We can provide our energy at much lower prices. In terms of electricity, we dictate the price through our ownership and as demand for gas will be declining we’ll simply legislate to stop them price gouging.

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Who will own what:

  • Renewable sourcing / generation / storage will be fully publicly owned.
  • Non-renewables sourcing will be left in the private sector with legislation to stop profiteering. We will increase the share of the market renewables, hold, and change the pricing formula so that renewable pricing is not linked to market rates (see section The Usage Threshold for details of our charging model). Our intent is to drive non-renewables out of the energy marketplace without investing vast sums and fighting legal cases.
  • Generation and storage will be publicly owned. The present model is that corporations build and own the facilities. In future they will be contracted to build, but the infrastructure will be publicly owned.
  • Transmission is owned by a number of companies under the umbrella of the National Grid Group. Local distributors often hold shares in the National Grid. We will bring the National Grid into public ownership. It is important to note that with public ownership we will put protections in place to ensure that the public have a golden share that ensures the National Grid cannot be sold off at a later date. In short we’ll make the public the controlling shareholders not the government.
  • Local Distribution will be brought into public ownership.

The Local Distributors will be part of the publicly owned retail company.

Closing The Renewables Gap

There is a misconception for many that the UK is doing an excellent job of replacing fossil fuels with renewables. After all, in 2018, the United Kingdom was ranked sixth in the world on the Environmental Performance Index.

In reality, renewables provide around only 6% of our present energy usage. That leaves 94% of energy provided by fossil fuels. With the current government’s plans, based on present electricity usage, even if we achieve 100% of electricity provided by renewables, it’ll still only provide 12 to 15% of our overall energy usage.

I suspect the fossil fuel giants aren’t overly scared of the expansion of renewables provision and in any case they are trying to push gas as a renewable by promoting blue hydrogen, a solution that is fossil fuel intensive and more polluting than present methods of providing energy. They promote blue hydrogen on the pretext that they’ll capture the carbon, but as things stand we are a long way from being able to capture the necessary levels of carbon.

Rise will deal with this on two fronts. We will radically increase renewables, while also ending the use of hydrocarbons for energy purposes over the shortest timescale possible. Even if you are a climate change sceptic, this will still bring massive benefits, such as less noise and air pollution as well as much cheaper energy bills.

Oil and Gas

The oil companies swim in money and they will continue to do so for as long as they can. Oil is predicted to run out in approximately 60 years and their aim is to stretch that as far into the future as possible, so they’ll continue to open new oil and gas fields where allowed. They won’t stop, regardless of environmental damage.

The European oil giants are putting aside some of their spending for renewables. Renewables are bound to grow and if they can own a share of a market that can be incorporated into their present model it makes complete sense. The problem with the oil giants is that they only have one interest at the end of the day. Profit!

By owning a share in the renewables market the oil giants will look to detach the cost of production from consumer price. We see this already where the price of renewables are being linked to oil prices. For the giants, it suits them if renewables have a large share of the market, but oil and gas holds the whip hand in pricing. Also if they own the verticals (source to supply) they are better protected from volatility in the market. The price of oil may well plummet, but if they have control of the generation they can keep the retail price extremely profitable. It also provides oil companies and government a perfect outcome. Prices rise meaning usage is reduced. The oil companies still make massive profits, but with the advantage that the supplies last longer. The government can point to a reduced carbon footprint simply because people are going without needed energy.

Biofuels

Rise does not regard biofuels for transport as a long-term viable solution. We are particularly keen to end the growing of crops for fuel and will put a ban in place, with a year’s grace to allow present providers to adjust. We will allow the use of waste to create biofuels, but this too is not regarded as a long-term solution to energy for transport (1).

Research is being carried out into the viability of algae biofuels. The killer for algae fuels is that more energy needs to be put in to what can be harvested. We’ll monitor the progress of algae biofuel, but don’t see it as a mainstay of renewables and in the case of the oil giants involvement, may well be them just greenwashing (2)

Biomass for electricity

We would introduce an immediate ban on creating electricity through the burning of wood / biomass. Energy suppliers like Drax power station would be given six months to clean up their act and convert to a cleaner and more ethical fuel. Even gas is cleaner than wood pellets and frankly more ethical. All renewable subsidies to Drax would be stopped immediately. Burning wood is not renewable. Forests are cut down and replaced with managed forests. These forests sequester far less carbon than the forests they replace. (3) 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Biomass-1.png

Graph 1 shows the amount of energy which solar PV (conservative figure) can generate from one hectare of land in the UK compared to the amount of energy contained in the annual growth of UK conifer plantations on one hectare.

The Usage Threshold

Nationalisation of our energy supply chain will provide opportunities that we fully intend to take advantage of. It means we can carry out major investment in renewable energy, save money by no longer subsidising the fossil fuel industry and importantly, end the scourge of fuel poverty.

In order to ensure that nobody goes without energy Rise will introduce a tariff system that ensures households are only charged for excessive use of energy. This will be based on an algorithm of the total energy used now. The measure used will be prior to the energy price rises. If should be thought of like a tax allowance on income where part of a wage is protected from tax.

We will create a threshold where if a consumer steps beyond, they will be charged for their energy use with the tariff rising the more the household exceeds the threshold.

For example let’s say an average 3-bedroom household uses 120 units per month. We would calculate that to meet comfort levels we’d ensure 80 units of energy is free. Then 40 units would be at the rate prior to the price hikes and anything above the 120 units would be charged at something like double to treble present rates. This provides security of energy, while also incentivising consumers to minimise energy usage. Somebody who had their heating on full, but at the same time kept all their windows open would end up with a very large bill.

The energy charging model isn’t described in detail here. It is obviously much more complex than shown in the previous paragraphs, with different house sizes, industrial models of charging and the fossil fuel to renewables ratio to be included in the algorithm. We are in the process of producing a much more detailed policy paper on how energy allowances and capping will work.

Insulate

Many may have issues with how Insulate Britain get their message across, but the fact is that they are absolutely correct that we should be carrying out a massive retrofit of insulation in the UK. It wouldn’t be that expensive and would have a massive impact on fuel poverty and people’s comfort.

Rise would work with Insulate Britain and other groups to create a national insulation project. In fact we would see this as an integral part of our plans to provide energy allowances where a percentage of energy usage would be free.

Renewables are growing up nicely

While the level of yields from fossil fuels has been maximised over 100 years and so have pretty much reached a plateau, in the case of renewables it is still a maturing science. It was thought at one point that the maximum energy yield from solar panels had been reached but advancements are radically increasing capture.

Battery technology improves daily. In fact the renewables market is vibrant and innovative. It is a market that Rise would ensure the UK is embedded in, ensuring do we not only take advantage of using new technologies but also play a large part in the research and manufacturing of new technologies.

We recommend the Just Have a Think channel for a look at some of the exciting technologies.

Local Energy Networks

We are committed to Local Energy Networks (Community Networks) and will invest heavily in their expansion. We see this as a valuable way of increasing renewable energy generation. Rather than provide grants we will provide full funding and will create a department within our energy company to work with communities to establish networks. This will include provision of renewable energy solutions for single households and industry where this is a better solution and can be part of the Local Energy Network.

The only reason we don’t have a much higher level of household and local energy provision is due to poor government policy which has destroyed a once flourishing industry. 

Policies

Just a few of our policies that deal with energy. Links open in a new tab.

GF028Build new offshore and onshore wind turbines
GF032Trial and expand tidal energy
GF034Upgrade UK homes to the highest energy-efficiency standards
GF035Eliminate fuel poverty
GF036Introduce a carbon standard for all new homes
GF038Invest in district heat networks using waste heat
GF039Expand power storage and invest in grid enhancements and interconnectors
GF040Introduce and expand free distributed and community energy
GF041Immediately and permanently ban fracking
GF047Bring our energy and water systems into public ownership
GF066Strengthen our green manufacturing and engineering sectors and ensure a green supply chain
GF083Build a free, sustainable, accessible and integrated transport system

References

1. Saeed, Sara Stefanini and Saim. The good and the bad of biofuels. Politico. [Online] 19 July 2016 . https://www.politico.eu/article/the-good-and-the-bad-of-biofuels-first-second-generation-wood-crop-waste/.

2. Is Algae The Fuel Of The Future? . Answers With Joe. [Online] 27 Jan 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwHdl2cD5bk.

3. What are the problems with big biomass? Bio Fuel Watch. [Online] 2018. https://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/2018/biomass-basics-2/?

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2 thoughts on “Ending Fuel Poverty”

  1. I am impressed by the article regarding Rise policy on the re-nationalsation of Energy. Do you have articles on how you would re-nationalise water and transport and your manifesto on the NHS?

    1. We are yet to write an article on re-nationalising water, but yes it is in our manifesto to do so. Only this way can we ensure that utilities serve the people’s interests. We’ll write something on water fairly soon.

      We have an article on transport but will write more on this subject as time goes by. For example we don’t cover ferries particularly well in our original article and would like to update this area. You can find the article at https://riseparty.org.uk/transport/

      Our manifesto has much on the NHS, but unfortunately our policy database is down at the moment, so at this time I can’t provide you with a list of specific policies. However we have a list of overarching key policies at https://thepolicyhub.org.uk/wiki/Key_policies_health or https://riseparty.org.uk/#kp that provide a clear insight into our aims for the NHS and the NCS.

      Hope this helps but if you have any questions / comments, please don’t hesittate to contact us.

      Warm regards, Michael

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