What we should give up for lent: pretence that the UK has any sort of a rural energy strategy

Rural energy strategy…do we actually have one? It doesn’t actually make a massive difference off-gas or on-gas every single rural community is affected by this blight: the pretence that the UK has anything that even slightly resembles a rural energy strategy.

We are in the transition era but for some reason this critical issue has been overlooked, entirely left out of DECC’s business plan, consigning thousands of communities and millions of people to live with an energy system rooted in the last century.

If we were to design energy delivery for rural areas in line with the way other energy mechanisms have been designed then we create thousands of jobs (within local communities), we reduce the UK’s carbon emissions by millions of tons a year, we attack fuel poverty on a massive scale and we create safer, more sustainable places to live.

Energy that is delivered on a truck – most people living in urban areas would not believe that we even still have such a thing and you would have to agree it does sound like an utterly proposterous statement in 2012 – so, energy delivered on a truck…must be redesigned. The business in which that energy mechanism has been allowed to continue will naturally redesign with it, IF we adopt a really simple twelve step plan:

  • smart meters – every single OIL and LPG tank must be connected up so that it can communicate with the delivery network
  • web access – every tank must have its own dedicated webpage, showing the number of days fuel remaining, so that levels can be seen easily at any time meaning no interruption to supply will ever occur again for anyone
  • energy saving – both systems will trigger a monitoring process that when wedded to an energy waste/saving educational campaign must ensure that energy use drops dramatically
  • energy security – the remoteness of the tanks should not mean that vulnerability to theft and security of supply should be any less sophisticated than the security provided for the energy we pump into urban homes, the technology already exists to secure every tank and to monitor that remotely
  • carbon emissions reduction – in addition to the reduction of emissions by eradicating energy waste the archaic delivery process must be set stringent targets, either self imposed or directed from central government, to bring down CO2 levels in the delivery process
  • reinventing the ordering process – we should simply expect more because if the Big Six went about taking orders and moving those orders along the system for their energy delivery in the same ad hoc, unintelligent and last century method as truck delivered energy then our opinions of them would be even lower
  • reinventing payment – all energy forms should be pay as we go and the process should be redesigned so that tanks are filled and the end users are charged as they use it on a monthly basis, simply squaring the circle of smart meter monitoring and security
  • virtual delivery reports – somehow thousands of aborted deliveries occur because delivery is attempted with the incorrect vehicle, this is completely surmountable by using existing technology – a combination of GPS and virtual delivery reports showing measurements and distances easily accessible via remote mapping
  • streamlined coordination – millions of litres of fuel are transported needlessly around the UK and returned to the depot unused, many million of miles are wasted needlessly as trucks are sent across many different communities on a single delivery route rather than coordinated deliveries to one community to drop their entire cargo to those homes ready to accept a top-up; remote monitoring completely redesigns both of these challenges and creates a streamlined transport/delivery system that fits with the 21st century and the UK’s ambitious carbon emission targets
  • job creation – rather than resisting change because it will cost jobs, this industry must embrace change, it will allow suppliers to diversify, it will create economic growth and it will generate thousands of jobs: right where we need them – in local communities; for people that really need them – the young, the old and those wishing to retrain; and in the sector that every one knows we have to develop a skilled labour force – the green economy
  • unforeseen outcomes – change once embraced can create endless possibilities, who knows what serendipitous outcomes will occur when this massive rural issue is resolved, there are so many connected positives that reach far beyond just the price of energy.

That’s it…extremely simple isn’t it?

Support: all we need is for DEFRA, DECC, BIS, OFT, CAB, FPS, ACRE, HAs, NFU and a whole list of other acronyms to lend their support, because there is one thing for sure the energy companies won’t. They don’t like change too much when the odds are currently stacked completely in their favour.

Delivery: there is only one way to deliver this rapidly across the UK, from the bottom up. Community Buying Groups can deliver this led by the revolution that the RCC movement is already creating and by every other independently run community buying group – either new or existing.

This is a people’s revolution that starts with making a dumb delivery mechanism smart and to get that moving I defer to my last blog: we just need a million pounds.

Lent is for giving up something – let that be this pretence, but it is also for making a positive change – let that be making a noise for those who remain without.  It really is as simple as this: when we connect up the dots of the rural communities reliant on truck delivered energy we begin to create a movement that can lead to any type of rural energy revolution…one that will be a move away from fossil fuels to renewables and a low carbon rural energy market – that sounds like the foundation for a strategy.