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‘Directive needed to force energy reform’

A new European directive may be needed to force the UK and other countries to reform the way energy is managed, monitored and delivered, according to a respected building services expert.

Former president of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers Terry Wyatt believes progress is too slow on preparing for the large-scale uptake of renewable microgeneration.

He believes the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Berr) must be forced to reduce pressure on the grid through the introduction of dynamic demand management (DDM).

He made his comments as Berr confirmed it had missed its August deadline for issuing a report on the viability of DDM.

If implemented in full, DDM would require manufacturers to include electronic controllers in domestic and industrial appliances, such as fridges, air conditioning and heating systems.

This would allow peak demand to be managed and balanced by switching off equipment which is not time sensitive in its energy needs. The grid could then operate more efficiently, need less back-up generation and integrate more renewables.

Mr Wyatt, a partner at Hoare Lea and special professor of Building Services Engineering at the University of Nottingham, argues the National Grid and energy companies are not pursuing the issue effectively.

He added: “A directive from the European Union requiring dynamic demand management, smart grids and incentivising tariffs is essential and urgently required. And this is needed across Europe, as few governments have sufficient control over their electricity industries.”

Berr had previously indicated it might try to roll out DDM in the next few years and last July the secretary of state said a report on its potential must be issued no later than August this year. But a Berr spokesman said this week the report would be released in “early autumn” at the earliest.

A spokesman for the National Grid said Mr Wyatt was underestimating progress. He said the company was already undertaking trials with dynamic demand specialists RLtec and was including DDM in its forward planning for 2020 and 2030.

He addded: “We believe dynamic demand offers an exciting new tool to help us balance supply and demand. We are actively developing smart metering, which is the key prerequisite to facilitating both dynamic demand and microrenewables.

“We are not convinced a directive would be helpful against the background of the Government’s climate change strategy and the fact that we and other companies are already actively developing dynamic demand.”

But Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace, said the energy market had to be opened up to dynamic demand and other approaches such as decentralised energy networks.

He said: “Dynamic demand will be useful in collaboration with other measures. But it illustrates a wider problem – that the system is not up to what we need in the future and innovation is being excluded.”