The UK government has pledged to set out new energy supply measures in response to the energy price crisis and Russia’s war in Ukraine. As energy prices have surged the government has come under increasing pressure to draw up an updated energy supply strategy. This strategy has also been called an ‘energy security strategy’ and ‘emergency energy strategy’.
Analysis from E3G, the independent climate change think tank, has shown that energy efficiency and clean heat are the quickest way to reduce dependence on expensive fossil gas, eliminate Russian imports and therefore bolster the UK’s energy security. It said that a rollout of energy efficiency, clean heat and renewable technologies would not only have the net effect of reducing customer bills but would substantially shrink gas consumption between now and 2025.The research has revealed that if the UK was to embark on a rapid rollout of domestic energy efficiency upgrades, clean heat installations and clean power technologies it could match the amount of gas imported from the UK from Russia four times over. It said that this could be achieved in less time than it takes to construct a new oil or gas field.
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Green business groups are calling for the government to strengthen their policy on the net zero transition and make efficiency measures and clean tech central to their response to the energy crisis.
The government has been swamped with letters from leading figures across the green economy and civil society hoping to persuade ministers to significantly increase their efforts to insulate homes and deploy clean energy technologies in response to soaring energy prices.
Letters have been received from the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA), the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC), the Net Zero Support Group of MPs, a coalition of more than 50 bishops as well as a major alliance of civil society groups. The business backed Electrify Heat campaign is calling for the government to put an ambitious, long-term electrification programme at the heart of its upcoming energy security strategy
The most recent letter from the REA and the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) is backed by 25 companies including such companies as Octopus Energy, Ecotricity, Good Energy, British Electrotechnical and Allied Manufacturers’ Association (BEAMA) and the Energy Saving Trust.
The letter calls for an immediate relief package for households facing an unprecedented almost 50% increase in their energy bills, outlining several measures to mitigate the effect of the energy bill hike. At the same time the coalition is appealing to the government for the provision of new ‘catalysts’ that improve the insulation of homes and rapidly increase the installation of domestic renewables and clean technology. The coalition would like to see more support for the installation of millions of low carbon heating devices.
Dr, Nina Skorupska, CEO at the REA, said:
“The government must take action before it’s too late. That is why in parallel with increasing support for households being pushed towards the poverty line, the government must urgently reduce the UK’s dependency on gas and other fossil fuels. That means boosting home insulation, replacing gas boilers with green alternatives, and ramping up the installation of renewables and clean tech. This would support the transition to Net Zero, deliver new jobs and investment and protect consumers from volatile energy prices.”
The UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson is believed to be in the process of drawing up plans to increase domestic renewable energy generation alongside domestic fossil fuels. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has stated that increasing domestic wind and solar generation is now “a matter of national security”.
In a recent newspaper article Boris Johnson declared that “renewable power is a crucial part of the solution” and set out the government’s intention to double down on new wind power and greatly accelerate the rollout of new offshore farms. He said that more would be done to exploit the potential of solar power, pointing out that it is now remarkably cheap and effective. He also said that the government would work to modernise the National Grid and our distribution networks.
However, although the government promised to spend £9.2bn on energy efficiency during this parliament it is yet to launch and deliver successful schemes backed with this level of funding. The Green Homes Grant closed last year having badly underperformed and the government has not yet announced a home energy efficiency scheme that equals its promise to replace it. Though £2bn was pledged for the Green Homes Grant, a total of just £950m has been promised by 2025 under the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS). The Climate Change Committee (CCC) are also asking for more clarity on, and support for making public and private sector buildings more energy-efficient above and beyond what was announced last October in the Heat and Buildings Strategy.
UKGBC’s CEO, Julie Hirigoyen said:
“Making domestic energy efficiency a priority is not only the responsible thing to do for public finances, but it will help towards the government’s energy independence and levelling up agendas, not to mention accelerating our journey towards a net zero carbon economy. The government must invest now in long term solutions to stop vast amounts of energy being wasted by heat leaking from the UK’s homes.”