Horizon Scan What's hot in energy efficiency

This month, we find that Government has released its long-awaited Energy Security Plan, to some mixed reaction from both industry and commentators.

It seeks to build on ambitions set out in the British Energy Security Strategy and the Net Zero Strategy, to enable the transformation of the energy system so it is secure, low-cost and low-carbon.

The Government says it will move towards energy independence by aiming for a doubling of Britain’s electricity generation capacity by the late 2030s, in line with the aim to fully decarbonise the power sector by 2035.

Published alongside the Security Plan, the Net Zero Growth Plan responds to the expert recommendations made in the Independent Review of Net Zero, chaired by Chris Skidmore MP.

Industry commentator EDIE worries that buildings and heat were found to be some of the slowest British sectors to decarbonise by the CCC last year. The Committee warned of “glacial” progress and “major failures in delivery programmes”.

This, says EDIE, hasn’t been addressed, noting Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has maintained that there will be no new funding for buildings energy efficiency before 2026.

Worryingly, EDIE also says that a carbon budget delivery plan, published along with the other two documents acknowledges that, without further policy interventions, the UK will narrowly miss its sixth carbon budget, delivering some 97 per cent of the emissions reductions required.

Also noted in this plan is the fact that the UK is likely to miss its international climate commitments under the Paris Agreement for 2030, delivering a maximum of 92 per cent of the emissions reductions it is committed to. Green Alliance has stated that 92 per cent would be a “very generous” estimate.

Carbon Brief said the overall package includes 44 documents running to 2,840 pages, including confirmation that the UK will continue its policy of expanding fossil fuel production in the North Sea, despite mounting calls from UK academics and some Conservative politicians for the country to follow others in ending new oil and gas licences.

Searching the Government’s documents does find mentions of energy efficiency, but within the context of previously launched schemes.

The BBC was candid, saying Government has unveiled a new Net Zero plan which has been met with intense criticism from experts and environmental groups.

New business efficiency campaign

A new push aims to help businesses boost their energy efficiency, cut costs and increase their cashflow as Government ads hit the airwaves in April.

The campaign, which includes a new website, is targeted at small and medium sized businesses. It will offer guidance on how organisations can make significant savings while cutting emissions, from installing light and heating timers, to turning down boiler flow temperature and changing light bulbs.

In ongoing connected work, eligible energy and trade intensive industries will be able to apply for a higher level of energy support through a GOV.UK portal later this month. This is expected to save some businesses 20 per cent of predicted wholesale energy costs.

“We welcome any moves to hasten energy efficiency in the commercial sector,” comments Kevin Cox, Managing Director, Energys. “I am keen to see this new website and the details within.”

Energy Efficiency Taskforce meets

Government has announced its new taskforce to turbocharge energy efficiency met for the first time in March.

The new Energy Efficiency Taskforce is chaired by Minister Lord Callanan and NatWest CEO Alison Rose, and has a clear target to support cutting energy use in the UK down by 15 per cent by 2030, from 2021 levels.

The membership of this group includes Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission Sir John Armitt, head of leading housebuilder Barratt Developments, David Thomas and leading experts from the University of Salford, the UK Green Building Council and National Energy Action.

Public sector rollout

The Government has announced how it is allocating the latest tranche of funding from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, totalling some £409m first confirmed last September.

The funding will be divided between 114 public sector bodies across England, who have placed successful bids for projects to improve the energy efficiency of hospitals, schools, universities, museums and leisure centres.

The Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (as part of which Energys Group delved over 70 projects) aims to support the government’s commitment to reduce emissions from public sector buildings by 75 per cent by 2037, compared to 2017 levels. It provides public sector bodies with up to 100 per cent of the upfront costs of a range of energy-saving projects and low-carbon heating projects.

“Public sector efficiency is a must win,” comments our CEO Kevin Cox. “These buildings are intrinsic to UK life but many are aging and not fit for purpose from an efficiency standpoint.

“Carbon wins and wins for people are available at rapid pace and with minimal upfront spend. We are delighted to support and offer advice on any public sector efficiency improvements and installations.”

And finally…

The FT argues that Ofgem’s powers must change in order to hit Net Zero targets for 2050, according to a new report. In addition, grid constraints and infrastructure need urgent attention, without which decarbonisation risks running off track.