Business leaders and experts from across the West Midlands came together to discuss how to better secure and manage energy supplies at a more local level helping to shield households and businesses from sudden and massive price hikes in the future. The event, sponsored by SSE Energy Solutions, showcased Energy Capital’s mission to implement a place-based approach, meaning the challenges for energy are dealt locally so the West Midlands can handle its own energy supply and help keep future energy bills low for their residents and firms.
This approach would also look to support green economic growth and broader partnerships with the local businesses. The event, at the Library of Birmingham, came as the Government announced a cap on wholesale energy bills for businesses for six months starting on 1 October.
A new energy price guarantee had already been announced for UK households meaning the average household will save at least £1,000 a year based on current energy prices from October and is in addition to the £400 energy bills discount for all households. Energy Capital was launched in 2016 by Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA to establish new models of regional energy governance and delivery and bring together both local government and industry leaders.
The event also saw the re-launch of Energy Capital’s partnership that combines energy providers like National Grid and Cadent Gas, with businesses, local authorities, housing associations, universities and representatives of central government and its agencies. As well as supporting the work to tackle fuel poverty and climate change, the programmes being led by Energy Capital will also help build a thriving market for clean tech innovation, helping to drive new business and job growth.
The Mayor, who gave a keynote speech at the event, said: “Recent geopolitical events abroad and cost of living pressures here at home have underlined the critical importance of our energy sector.
“Alongside the substantial and immediate support from central government that our local residents and businesses are understandably calling for, we must take the right medium and long term steps in order to place our region on much surer footing for the future. That’s why it’s very good news that - in Energy Capital – we have a dedicated regional convening entity drawing together the relevant experts and stakeholders, influencing the national agenda, and working alongside key industry players in order to identify the steps we need to take to enable a clean energy future that is more cost effective and energy efficient for our residents and businesses.
“The £50m Energy Capital has already helped our region to win will support local authorities and housing associations to retrofit our region’s historically energy inefficient housing stock in the coming weeks and months. I’m pleased to welcome SSE as an organisation to the Energy Capital family and thank them for their sponsorship of this important re-launch event.
“Getting energy right will help us to reduce bills for consumers, create new green jobs, and decarbonise our local homes and industries. As we work together to tackle the climate emergency and meet our #WM2041 net zero commitment, we also need to encourage a more domestic and more sustainable energy supply so that we reduce our reliance on provision from overseas. Energy excellence will help to ensure the West Midlands leads the coming Green Industrial Revolution.”
Since declaring a climate emergency in June 2019, the West Midlands has been focused on developing and delivering a clear action plan.
Cheryl Hiles, director of Energy Capital, said: “Our vision is to create a net zero energy system that is fair and affordable to all. To do that, we need the right partners alongside us – providing the insights, information and powers to make sure that investment is made in the right way.”
Nathan Sanders, managing director of Distributed Energy at SEE Energy Solutions, added: “SSE Energy Solutions is proud to support the re-launch of Energy Capital as we begin collaborating with the partnership. As champions of UK clean energy, SSE and Energy Capital share the ambition of enabling the transitions we need to achieve the UK and Ireland’s net-zero targets by 2050.
“SSE’s net-zero acceleration plan will see us invest £7m each and every day until 2030 on low carbon infrastructure to provide the backbone for decarbonisation through energy, and that investment will benefit regions such as the West Midlands, who are leading the way in setting out a clear path for tangible change.
“We pride ourselves on our whole systems approach which combines energy solutions to deliver the decarbonisation of energy, heat and transport and we look forward to working with Energy Capital partners to accelerate the transition to net zero.”