Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the energy sector has remained relatively resilient thus far. At the beginning of the initial lockdown back in March, several health and safety provisions were put into place to safeguard workers to guarantee the reliability of the energy sector.
In this blog, we’re going to explore the different steps we could take to ensure the lights stay on for everyone as this pandemic progresses.
Tackling Energy Efficiency & Fuel Poverty
Despite seeing a reduction of around 20% in total commercial electricity demand during the UK-wide lockdown earlier this year, domestic energy consumption has inevitably increased.
As workers up and down the country are working from home, it’s thought that the average utility bill has increased by an extra £16 a month. These figures are likely to be far higher for those who live in properties with lower energy efficiency.
According to figures from 2018, fuel poverty already impacts 2.4 million homes across the UK. But given that the pandemic has had a detrimental effect on many people’s finances, the current pandemic is likely to exacerbate this further.
While we were quite lucky to experience the first wave of COVID-19 during the summer months, the second wave we’re currently experiencing may seriously impact many low-income families.
It’s thought that nearly 10,000 people die each year due to cold homes, which have also been found to worsen respiratory diseases. This is why it’s so important that as we move into winter, we’re tackling energy efficiency problems and fuel poverty.
As per Ofgem, 4.3 million households in the UK rely on prepayment energy meters. This has become an issue for some during the lockdown and will continue to be for those in stronger lockdown areas or those who are forced to self-isolate.
While the Government were quick to act on this issue when consulting with crucial energy sector stakeholders, in order to protect those in potentially vulnerable situations, more may need to be done as we move into the winter months. Financial implications and those who are unable to go out to the shops may experience complete energy disconnect.
While the scheme has helped to support many households during 2020, more must be done to reach out to those most vulnerable, who may not have the means or knowhow to make contact with their energy supplier themselves.
This could be achieved by raising awareness of the support offered and decreasing the need for customers to contact their suppliers. Although most of us would be aware that making contact with energy suppliers is necessary when times are difficult, there may be many vulnerable and elderly people out there who do not.
The onus then moves onto the suppliers to use their data and intelligence to make contact with those who are most vulnerable.
Green Energy Should Remain on the Agenda
Although COVID-19 should quite rightly reprioritise certain agenda’s, in our view, it’s still imperative to continue to strive towards net-zero carbon emissions in 2050.
Net-zero is a fantastic opportunity, not only to help the planet and relieve the burdens on natural resources, but it could also become crucial for the economy in a post-COVID-19 world. This is because, by focusing on the Green energy sector, we can create more jobs, enhance skills and tackle the issue of fuel poverty once and for all.
What We Can Learn
Over recent months, a lower electricity demand, along with a higher than usual penetration of renewables in the energy network, has created a challenge for the network operators.
This has, in actual, fact, created a rehearsal for the 2025 coal-free target, which will create new measurables for energy management, new inertia products, and preparing for a long-term future without fossil fuels.