Energys Horizon Scan – October ‘21: As winter approaches, what’s on the UK energy efficiency agenda?

As winter approaches, what's on the UK energy efficiency agenda? We investigate in our October Energys Horizon Scan...

UK energy crisis

First this month, it would be remiss not to comment upon the UK’s energy woes. Stories abound across the media surrounding gas prices, energy bills and indeed fossil shortages in the form of transport fuels shortfalls.

The Guardian writes that a perfect storm of market forces threatens to rip through the economy from home energy suppliers to heavy industry, and from factories to farmers.

Economic bounce back from Covid and global gas supply issues, combined with the UK’s stark reliance on gas appear largely to blame.

But the impact of the energy crisis will not be contained to rising energy bills and struggling suppliers. Large steelmakers, chemical factories and manufacturers are all vulnerable to the impact of energy costs and are already feeling the financial pain of the energy price shock.

The Energy Intensive Users Group (EIUG), Energy Live News reports, has called on the UK government to act urgently on the escalating crisis in the domestic energy market.

The group, which represents the interests of intensive industrial energy consumers, including manufacturers of steel, chemicals, paper and glass has proposed a series of ‘urgent measures’ to ensure that industries continue to operate this winter.

EIUG wants winter cost containment measures on gas, electricity and carbon prices to help industries continue producing essential goods. It also suggests that Ofgem should replicate the tariff discounts which are available in competitor industries in Europe.

The Energys view

Kevin Cox, our Managing Director, makes his own analysis. “As the UK’s decarbonisation journey continues, bumps in the road are to be expected. We have successfully shifted off coal, but we have massive gas reliance.

“Decarbonisation can’t happen overnight, so whilst we await the government’s chosen options of nuclear and renewables to upscale, we have to minimise the energy we use.

“This is why energy efficiency is so important. It’s essential in the long term anyway, but in transitional times it minimises exposure to supply chain and spikes by limiting the energy we use in the first place. Our own work in this field – including the completion of over 70 projects under the Government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS) – shows what can be done.”

Funding opportunities

Talking of the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS), Phase 3 of this programme opened on October 6th. This programme provides grants for public sector bodies to fund heat decarbonisation and energy efficiency measures. Our message to eligible organisations – particularly to those that undertook (or, commissioned) a heat decarbonisation plan in the previous phases of PSDS, is to act swiftly – and to start a conversation with us to see how we can help. One thing you might not have spotted is that under Phase 3, there is no published limit on the size of the fund (this will be confirmed after the Autumn Spending Review).

According to PSDS administrators, Salix, the priority for Phase 3 PSDS is to provide funding for decarbonisation projects where the heating systems are at the end of their working lives and there is imminent need for replacement, therefore the majority of the 2022/23 grant funding has been set aside for projects that need to take place between Friday 1st April 2022 and Friday 31st March 2023.  It’s been made very clear that applicants will need to “ensure they have the necessary resources and suppliers in place, required to deliver the project by the agreed dates.”

If your organisation wants to discuss how we may be able to help – then please do get in touch.

More on funding… IETF

In other funding news, the Government has announced its Industrial Energy Transformation Fund (IETF) Phase 2: Autumn 2021 funding is being deployed.

It offers grant funding for feasibility and engineering studies, and for the deployment of industrial energy efficiency and deep decarbonisation projects.

Up to £60 million of grant funding for feasibility and engineering studies will enable companies to investigate identified energy efficiency and decarbonisation projects, prior to making an investment decision, plus deployment of technologies to reduce industrial energy consumption.

Money is also available for deep decarbonisation technologies to achieve industrial emissions savings. Applications for all streams close Monday 6 December 2021, apply here.

Office energy ratings

EDIE reports that a new energy rating scheme for UK offices has launched, in a bid to help businesses reach Net Zero  by bridging the gap between the design and in-use energy performance of their buildings.

NABERS UK, EDIE writes, was introduced in November 2020 to help address performance gaps in current energy efficiency ratings that don’t necessarily account for the difference between design intentions and actual, real-world operational performance.

Managed by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) the scheme replicates the well-established NABERS Australian rating scheme and currently provides energy efficiency ratings for office buildings across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Importantly, NABERS UK measures and verifies recorded energy usage from existing buildings, rather than estimates, to provide more accurate energy performance data for building owners. Additionally, NABERS UK also covers a Design for Performance (DfP) framework for developers that can help in putting actual energy performance targets to work.  This scheme is one to watch, for sure.

And finally… Business way behind on Net Zero

EDIE also covers important analysis that 17 of the UK’s biggest sectors are recording either stable or increasing emissions, jeopardising the nation’s chance of meeting Net Zero by 2050.

The report states that, collectively, the 17 business sectors will need to mitigate 382 megatonnes of CO2e by 2035 to align with the UK’s Sixth Carbon Budget. They are likely to deliver cuts of just 131 megatonnes, 34% of this figure.

To solve the problem, the report calls for larger scale investment in key low carbon technologies and infrastructure, plus guarantees that incentives are long term and consistent, to give businesses the confidence they need.

It also recommends that the Government takes the lead in developing a standardised carbon accounting methodology that properly reflects emissions across the value chain.