One more Horizon Scan before Xmas; what’s hot in energy efficiency as winter power usage rises?

This month, the government is under scrutiny on buildings and energy efficiency progress.

Utility Week reported that the Chair of Parliament’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) committee slammed the government for being “too slow” in its efforts to improve energy efficiency of the country’s building stock.

The criticism comes alongside a probe into whether the government’s efforts to improve the energy efficiency of buildings matches its ambition to curb carbon emissions.

The inquiry will examine whether the government’s current delivery of energy efficiency improvements is consistent with meeting targets set out in the Clean Growth Strategy, and the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, which cover the decade ending in 2032.

Not so smart roll-out

The National Infrastructure Commission has recommended that the government should be installing 21,000 energy efficiency measures a week by 2020, more than twice the rate of 9,000 currently being achieved.

EDIE quoted BEIS Committee Chair Rachel Reeves MP: “Our inquiry will examine the government’s approach to energy efficiency; whether it is showing enough ambition in helping to tackle fuel poverty and in encouraging homeowners, businesses and landlords to upgrade.

“We will also be keen to explore the additional measures which may be needed to deliver energy efficiency improvements that could bring significant benefits for individuals, the economy and the environment.”

Our Managing Director Kevin Cox welcomed the investigation. “It’s imperative that as we enter the winter, when energy efficiency is most required, we keep a tight eye on how the government performs on delivering vital energy saving measures.

“These can be so simple, from LED lighting to more complex upgrades and refits. But no matter what the scale, the key is this; improving our building’s energy performance – fast.”

EU aims to be ‘climate neutral’ by 2050

In a major move, the BBC is reporting that the European Union is aiming to become the first major economy to go climate neutral by 2050.

Scientists say that net-zero emissions by 2050 are needed to have a fighting chance of keeping global temperatures under 1.5C this century. The EU says the move will also cut premature air pollution deaths by 40%.

But it remains unclear how the efforts will be achieved; energy efficiency, carbon capture and solar and wind energy are among the suite of solutions being targeted.

The EU believes that the measures will help achieve the goals of the Paris agreement, and boost economies by 2% of GDP by 2050 and reduce energy imports by over 70%, saving up to three trillion euros a year.

Sweden has legislated to achieve net zero emissions by 2045. Other countries are looking at it, including the UK which has asked the Committee on Climate Change to report on the idea.

MEES tweak

Key changes to MEES regulations have been passed. ‘Since April this year, landlords who own some of the coldest privately rented homes have been required to improve these properties with energy efficiency measures where support is available to cover the costs,’ wrote the National Landlords Code of Excellence.

‘The new measures, announced yesterday following a public consultation, will go further requiring landlords to contribute to the cost of upgrades. The consultation considered what the cost cap should be set at; the government concluded that the cap will be set at £3,500 (inclusive of VAT).’

The higher cap should lead to more buildings gaining better energy efficiency at greater pace. It’s another indication of the UK’s hastening commitment not only to energy efficiency, but to its social benefits.

With dark nights upon us, what’s the cool news in UK energy efficiency?

Budget focus on business energy

The Chancellor didn’t mention energy efficiency in his actual speech, but behind the scenes there’s evidently been some considerable focus.

Among this year’s Red Book measures are an Industrial Energy Transformation Fund and a new Business Energy Efficiency Scheme.

‘As part of the Industrial Strategy, the government will establish an Industrial Energy Transformation Fund, backed by up to £315 million of investment, to support businesses with high energy use to transition to a low carbon future and to cut their bills through increased energy efficiency,’ read the proposals.

Further; the government will issue a call for evidence on introducing a new Business Energy Efficiency Scheme, focused on smaller businesses.

Over time, this scheme will reduce business energy bills and carbon emissions. The call for evidence will seek views on a range of possible delivery options.

Plainly this is all good news for the low carbon transformation. That said, there have been a number of measures aimed at building efficiency in recent years, and a number of funds, but once announced many seem slow to actually make it out of the starting blocks.

“We welcome any added focus on energy efficiency across UK business,” comments Kevin Cox, Managing Director, Energys.

“It is important that once announced, measures don’t linger on the backburner. We need them to actually kick in and catalyse sustainable change.”

The Chancellor also promised UK PLC will continue to pay for its carbon emissions if a no deal Brexit occurs, through a new carbon emissions tax.

Take VAT off energy efficiency

Also this month, Energy UK asked the government to remove VAT from energy bills and energy efficiency measures after Brexit.

The trade body is also calling on the government to launch a new National Energy Efficiency Programme.

It says there has been a 53 per cent fall from £6.8 billion to £3.2 billion in annual energy efficiency investment and an 80 per cent reduction in improvement measures between 2012 and 2015 from 1.74 million to 340,000.

Chief Executive Lawrence Slade said: “We are calling on the chancellor to help energy customers with measures which will help reduce their bills and ensure that the continuing drive to reduce emissions across the whole economy comes at the least cost to households and businesses.

“Almost 80 per cent of the cost of an average energy bill is outside suppliers’ direct control and with wholesale prices continuing to rise significantly, a National Energy Efficiency Programme would be the most effective way of keeping bills down in the face of such increases.”

Energy plans ‘not enough’

Finally this month, National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) chair Sir John Armitt has told The Telegraph the government’s £300m investment in low carbon heating and its energy efficiency plans are “not enough” to cut carbon emissions fast enough to meet the UK’s tougher climate targets.

“Improving insulation of buildings could have a drastic impact on emissions; we need to invest now to find the best approaches,” he added.

Advisers have called for over £3.8bn of spending before 2030 on upgrading Britain’s drafty housing stock and developing new low carbon heating systems.

“Energy efficiency is always the finest investment option; the money you don’t spend on energy saved is by far the greatest metric for benefit,” comments Kevin Cox.

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With autumn upon us, what’s in store for energy efficiency?

Fossils fall again

New BEIS energy statistics for 2018 q2 show that fossil fuel generation fell as renewables’ contribution rose, with coal dropping to a new record low.

Coal fired power’s share of the grid hit another record low, accounting for just 1.6% of generation over the period, although gas power remained the largest single contributor to UK’s electricity during the second quarter at 42%,’ writes Business Green.

A BEIS Spokesperson told Energy Live News: “We’ve hit another landmark record, with this summer’s intense sunshine generating enough solar power to fuel over a million homes.

“With less dirty coal being used than ever before and plans underway to phase out coal power completely by 2025, our modern Industrial Strategy is supporting thousands of good jobs in new clean growth industries.”

Overall primary energy consumption in the UK also fell by 1.3% to a record low during the period compared to the same time in 2017, driven by warmer weather, the ongoing shift from renewables from fossil fuels and improvements in energy efficiency, Business Green advised.

“Here is yet more news of the hastening within the UK towards low carbon power,” comments Kevin Cox, Managing Director, Energys.

“We know that energy efficiency has a major role to play in this ongoing transformation and stand ready and willing to deliver.”

Labour and energy efficiency

Jeremy Corbyn aimed to reposition Labour as the leader on UK low carbon, with a swathe of promises made at the party’s conference.

Corbyn has called for a new commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero by the middle of the century.

Responding, Lawrence Slade, chief executive at trade body Energy UK, said his association supported the Labour leader’s focus on low carbon energy.

“We have also long called for a national energy efficiency programme and the important commitment to provide additional funding to help improve the energy efficiency of our housing stock, recognising that this is ultimately the best way to keep bills down.” he said.

Scotland leads the UK

In more statistical analysis, EDIE writes that The Committee on Climate Change’s annual progress report on carbon reduction north of the border has been published.

It says Scottish net emissions were 41.5 MtCO2e in 2016, the last year for which data is available, below the climate target figure of 44.9 MtCO2e. Total emissions fell by 10% in 2016 alone.

The news could position Scotland as a best practice exemplar. Lord Deben, chairman of the CCC, said the Scottish government has made some progress on tackling issues raised in the committee’s report in 2017.

“However, challenges remain. Greater effort is now required across other areas of Scotland’s economy.

“This includes policies to drive down emissions in sectors where they are either flat or rising, such as transport, agriculture and energy efficiency in buildings.”

Evidently, energy efficiency remains a top priority when it comes to decarbonisation both north and south of the border.

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7 things Bloomberg and EEVS’s September Energy Efficiency Trends report tells us

Bloomberg and EEVS’s latest September Energy Efficiency Trends report is live. What does it tell us about the sector today?

1. Market confidence

Smiles are back on the face of UK energy efficiency. An estimated 10% uptick in energy efficient project commissioning for the last quarter brings welcome relief, following five consecutive quarters of below average consumer investment.

2. Lighting is the no. 1 technology– and BEMs are on the rise

Lighting remains the number one choice for respondents implementing energy efficiency projects. Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) come second and are on the rise – these are now being commissioned by more than 60% of the report’s active consumer respondents.

Boiler controls and lighting controls fall within the top five energy efficiency technologies commissioned.

3. Returns come fast

More and more customers are prioritising quick returns on their energy efficiency spend; a typical expectation is now in the region of 4 years.

4. Prices on the up

In a material change to the long term trend towards static pricing across the sector, this quarter some 40% of respondents reported price increases.

5. Government action required

On energy efficiency policy, supplier sentiment remains firmly in negative territory with over half of respondents considering the current policy framework to be ineffective.

That said, the report’s interviewees were keen on the recent BEIS consultation ‘Building a market for energy efficiency: call for evidence’, but under 20% think the government is managing the economy well.

6. Large scale projects are on the rise

The uptick in customer spending this quarter is primarily driven by a jump in large scale projects of over £500,000. These made up 42% of the total projects kicking off.

7. Measurement and management

Over 60% of energy efficiency customers are now reporting the inclusion of good practice performance analysis and verification, to help demonstrate the savings returns attributable to their investments.

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The Energys Group September Horizon Scan: energy efficiency in brief

This month, The Telegraph brings good news, reporting on how businesses are increasingly backing clean energy.

The broadsheet writes that while new technology represents an investment, many businesses that are embracing energy efficiency are doing so with clear commercial imperatives.

It cites the example of Sainsbury’s, which announced last summer that it will deploy brighter, more efficient and more long-lasting LED lighting in more than 450 stores.

And, The Telegraph observes the supermarket chain said it was investing in new aerofoil insulation technology for its fridges, to keep food cool without unintentionally icing customers moving down its aisles.

The upshot is this; business leaders are finally realising that investment in clean energy, and energy efficiency will help to improve green credentials, cut operational costs and contribute significantly to future-proofing their organisations in ultra-competitive markets.

But there remains some way to go. Richard Braakenburg, Senior Vice-President of energy solutions at the Green Investment Group, told the Telegraph:

“The money spent on industrial energy consumption in the UK remains among the highest in the group of 26 countries that make up the International Energy Agency’s membership. That is £1.6bn too much every year on UK plc’s bottom line, by some estimates, all due to energy inefficiency.”

For Kevin Cox, Managing Director, Energys Group, it’s all about the opportunity of energy. “Braakenburg is right, but so is The Telegraph when it points to the great work UK firms are doing.

“Now more than ever is the time for optimism as regards clean, low carbon energy and energy efficient interventions across the UK. We have the knowledge and the expertise. More and more firms are coming onside.

“We are ready to help deliver change. The Telegraph writes that British industry leaders and SMEs are taking action and rethinking their energy strategies. It’s true, and Energys is here to help them.”

Local authorities plan £100m energy fund

The Energyst is reporting on the development of a new fund to enhance energy efficiency in the South West.

A group of local authorities are collaborating to create a £100m fund to invest in energy projects. The South West Low Carbon Fund aims to improve energy efficiency of local building stock, but also invest in distributed generation, storage, demand-side response and EV infrastructure.

As well as cutting carbon emissions, the aim is to create jobs and enable local authorities to earn a return from the savings enabled by funding investments; savings that in most cases will be guaranteed via energy performance contracts (EPCs).

Energy costs worrisome post Brexit

The Financial Times is warning that UK energy suppliers are about to offer long-term contracts without knowing what regulations will apply after Brexit, creating the risk of higher costs for households and companies, an industry body said.

The FT also raises concerns about how energy will function post Brexit, given that the UK is, for the moment, part of a connected system with rules on how energy is traded and managed, effectively balancing supply and demand across the continent.

Drax goes for energy efficiency

Finally this month, Forbes reports that Drax is committed to low carbon.

Drax accounts for 6% of total power generated in the UK, but the Group’s Chief Executive Officer Will Gardiner told Forbes Drax is very much about supporting the UK’s low carbon journey.

Drax is helping its customers with efficiencies by assisting with the usage of less energy. It is also acting as an intermediary for small scale renewable energy generators by helping them sell their power into the system by buying from them via its retail arm.

“Drax used to be about coal. Now it’s about low carbon futures,” comments Cox. “And, this represents the path that, thankfully, the whole of our country is now walking.”

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