Energy strategy undermined by absence of energy efficiency measures

07 April 2022, Ross Matthewman

CIEH has expressed dismay that much-needed energy efficiency measures have been excluded from the UK Government's new energy strategy, but has welcomed the ambition to improve the UK's long-term energy security.

The new strategy aims to reduce the UK's reliance on oil and gas, especially imports, by creating eight new nuclear reactors, with a new body overseeing their delivery. It also outlines plans to speed-up approvals for new offshore wind farms and for the doubling of targets for hydrogen production to support cleaner energy for industry as well as for power, transport and potentially heating.

The UK Government has also announced that it may reform the rules for installing solar panels on homes and commercial buildings to help increase the current solar capacity by up to five times by 2035.

A key element of the new strategy to improve the UK's energy security is further developing domestic oil and gas production with a new licensing round for North Sea projects in the summer.

Whilst the strategy includes some small additional funding for heat pumps it does not include any new proposals or support for energy efficiency measures to help alleviate the spiralling cost of living crisis.

Tamara Sandoul, Policy and Campaigns Manager, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health said:

"It is positive to see the Government unveil a plan to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and improve the UK’s energy security. This is an ambitious plan, particularly when it comes to clean energy generation, which is urgently needed to achieve the long-term ambition of achieving net zero.

However, energy security that is based on fossil fuels can only be short term if the government heeds the warnings in the latest IPCC report published earlier this week.

In addition, the energy strategy is unlikely to do much in the short term to alleviate the hardship for many people struggling with high energy bills, and is undermined by the lack of funding allocated for energy efficiency in homes. This will be devastating for many poorer households when Winter comes. It is a missed opportunity not to use the next 6 months to accelerate the installation of insulation measures in homes to prepare for the winter months. The Treasury has many questions to answer about why these steps are not being funded.

The UK urgently needs is a long-term investment strategy into energy efficiency measures for homes. This should include grants, zero interest loans, and other incentives for households, across all tenures to reduce their energy demand as well as assist with the transition to renewables where this can be achieved.

Previous short-term schemes like Green Homes Grant failed to deliver because industry were not prepared and schemes were not well designed. However, the principles were good and should now, more than ever given the climate emergency and the latest IPCC report, be revisited as a matter of urgency."

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